what way is the album Vande Mataram a symbol of contemporary India?
did it take you so long to venture into doing a non-film project?
Well, the primary objective of the album is to inspire a feeling for the
country. And the sentiments so aroused go beyond caste, creed and
colour. The feelings which inspired the album come from the heart, and
can solve a lot of problems. If people look beyond religion and caste
barriers, and think only of the country, that's enough. I personally
think Vande Mataram is an ongoing movement, and people will feel good
about it for the next 50 years.
Maybe because before I didn't think that the time was right for a
project of this nature. I was satisfied with doing film music. Vande
Mataram is a noble entry into the world of non-film music. It's
something different, something that won't be forgotten easily.
are your views on the Indian film music scene today?
In recent times I've done films with a similar outlook. These films are
aimed at the young generation and therefore have to be beat oriented.
Yet I've tried for a distinct sound every time.
Vande Mataram is being released in 27 countries. What is it about the
album that will make it appealing to such a wide audience?
I've tried my best to create something that will be appreciated
worldwide, without losing out on the Indianness in the music.
you started working on the album did you have any idea that it would
turn out to be such a huge international project?
working with international artists affected your style?
No, when we started out, only those involved with the album believed
that it was going to be BIG. When I told people what I was doing, they
would give me odd looks and ask me why I wasn't concentrating on films.
But my team and I were confident about Vande Mataram, we felt good about
it. We felt that it should go around the world and Sony promised us it
would be an international album.
Yeah, I felt I had to upgrade myself to reach international standards.
It gives you a new plane to work on. You are not limited by your own
imagination when you work with international artists. You see things
from different perspectives. They also felt very honoured to be working
on such a theme as Vande Mataram. The general feeling was that this is
not just another track but something special..
was it like working with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan?
When we contacted him, he readily agreed to do the song. He was very
co-operative and gave us half a day to record it. I modified the track
to suit his calibre, gave it more of a qawwali feeling so that he would
feel comfortable. It is very unfortunate that he is....
did you come into films?
My father, R K Shekar was a music director in Malayalam films. He
assisted Salil Chowdary, Devrajan and others. He died when I was nine.
At eleven I came into the field, playing on the keyboards and later as
an accompanist. I worked under various music directors in Tamil, Telegu
and Malayalam- Ramesh Naidu, MS Vishwanathan and Illayaraja. It started
becoming a bit monotonous. I thought advertising would be a good
alternative. This went on for three years. I built my studio and took to
different forms of music- pop, rock and so on. It was then that I met
producer Tirlok Shardha, cousin of Mani Rathnam at a party. He (Mani)
came to my studio and heard some of my tunes. We agreed to work together
though we did not decide on which movie. Only later he told me it was to
be Roja, which he was directing for K. Balachander.
Despite your success you do not seem to be working on a lot of films?
Rather than making money I believe in making people happy, all other
things are secondary. That is why I am not interested in a lot of movies
but only in one at a time. I like directors whom I can vibe with. Ten
years of experience in this field has made me quite frustrated. I've
evolved a technique, which requires a lot of time. Other music directors
record a song in 7-8 hours. But I am different. We do a basic sitting
and we record it. We record the voice and I add instrument by instrument
to improve the quality.
Do you use computers in your film tracks?
No, not computers. The technique is different. In fact they say the
music in Roja was computerized. As I said earlier the recording takes
time. You can hear the same flute in a different way. It is not
computerized music. Nearly 40% Veerapandi Kottayily (a song from Thiruda
Thiruda) that does not sound like computer music and Vellai Mazhai (from
Roja) is synthesizer oriented. I do not restrict the musicians but ask
them to play whatever they feel. Then I record what I want. I spend a
lot of time on lyrics too. It takes around 4 days. We write something in
the first instance and then improve. So it take about a week to complete