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is duniya ke sitaare - Interview appeared in 'Is Duniya Ke Sitaare' on Star Plus 26/01/99 - part 1

Farida Jalal: Welcome to LG 'Is Duniya ke sitaare'. Well your fans and all of us would like to know everything about you.

Before that I would like to tell you all that I am not fluent in hindi so...'main angrezi me baat karta hun'(laughs)

Vande Mataram, We would like to know about this album.

The whole thing came when I met Bharatbala my friend in some award function in Bombay.We just talked and we used to do commercials five years back and we thought we should do something together.Bala's father told why dont you do something for the country.We joined together and bala asked 'why dont we do Vande Mataram?'.I said if we do vande mataram it should reach out to the young people and bring about a sense of belonging to all the religions to all the people all around the world and to feel we have a home and to give a sense of belonging to ourselves .We combined everything and made the first song,a big song and Mehboobji wrote the lyrics.

Why did you dedicate it to the youth?

This was a beautiful song that was there for nearly 100 years and todays youth should relate to it without any bias.The whole thing was to grudge both.As you guys know it happened very well.It reached out to people.

We were all thrilled and pleasently surprised to see you before the camera instead of being in your studio or recording room under the sun and oing a bit of acting.How did you feel?

Initially I said I cant do all this and i'm not used to it and then Bala said ,You have sung the song and if you dont face the camera people cant relate to it.He said whatever you have done in the studio you just do it exept for a little makeup and wear a simple dress like what I wear normally a T-Shirt and Jeans.

What was your reaction when you were asked to perform Vande Mataram on India's 50th Anniversary?

I was really hounoured.I called my orchestra and we went to delhi and they gave us a slot of 10 minutes before the prime minister came and they said we cant perform after that.By the time the prime minister came,the previous parties were prolonging and the time was off and they said 'No everyone is hear do it now!'

I was told that before films you were composing jingles.

From the age of around 11 I started playing as a musician and I wanted to do something more since evry morning I was doing songs ..songs ..songs.I thought of doing something outside the film industry.I met a different crowd one that is entirely different from the fiilm crowd.Thats when I met Mani Ratnamji and got my first break

'Roja'.How did that happen

One of my commercials for Leo Coffee and we had a party in one of the hotels.Mani Ratnam came for the party and I asked why dont you come to the studio and listen to my music and exactly after 6 months he had an oppurunity to come and said we might do a film.In one week's time I gave him some tunes and he like it and we started 'Roja'.It was a blessing from lord that I got a very fine director for my Music Dirctorial debut film.He encouraged me a lot and he listened to my experimenting music and said this is sounding this is sounding old.He was like a school for me and it was like an own university and he made me blessed with the music which I have know .I was into all kinds of music like traditional music ,Pop music ,Classical music and he is like a brother to me.

The very first song in your very first film .What was it.

I think in 'Roja' it was 'Dil he chot Asha'.It was a simple and melodious song.

The Director is important to you or the artist is important picturise hone vala hai.

No.Everything particularly the script and the situations.The sounds are also important to a film .We feel a traditional sound may be suitable for this film and all that is decided before composing.

The difference in composing a jingle and a film song.

Everything dependes on that attitude in which you take.If you take a jingle like joke then it is like that and it sounds like, that but if you take it seriously and work on it and concentrate every second of the 60 seconds it is going to last it sounds good and thats the same attitude I take for a song like you have a muqda ,a BGM and then if this muqda comes again,what surprise can you get?I cant repeat the same thing so I would like to give a surprise there.I concentrate on each section of the song.Its an extra burden for you but gives you a joy and when people hear it they say 'Thats a surprise ,Thats a surprise' and they keep hearing to it 10 times and discover new things in it.Its not like once they hear and it is predictable.In a way it helped me to develop a new style in song making.

People say that your songs are repititive and once they hear it they can say 'Ah!this is A.R.Rahman combination'.

In a way it is good to have a recognition.What happens when I do a similar kind of film given the success of a film and when I do a similar kind of film rematched,thats where I get caught.They want the same kind of song 'OK give me another Chaiyya Chaiyya or another Muqabla' and it gets repititive.Even in 'Doli Saja Ke Rakhna' I tried to blend the old style of music with my style so it would sound different with an old melody with new music and I think it is slowly reaching out to the people.When you are into the same kind of things and when you are composing you should be free and shouldn't be bound by song situations, like when you are doing only Background scores, ads, art films.Working with Mr.Govind Nihlani is different from working with Mr.Mani Ratnam or Mr.Ghai. He is completely into a different kind of world.

Do you feel handicapped by the lack of knowledge of the language Hindi.

Not anymore because now i'm quite familiar with most words .Even the Bad Words (laughs)

Do you think that the director's hassling in your work has an ill effect.

Not Really.If we Music directors start to think lets do what we like and let the director keep shouting,then the music wont reach the people quickly.Directors like Shankar will immediately say 'No I want a song that'll reach out to the people'.He wants every song in his films to adhere to the serious subjects on which he takes.

What is necessary to make a hit song.

I think the basic thing is to be honest to it.You have to say something in it,not just to make it come to the charts .When you are honest to it and when you want to make a simple melody ,simple thought in it a simple lyric and good orchestrisation and immediately it will be a hit.I think it is in the way you go about it. You shouldn't get into the song to make a hit out of it but make it in your style and obtaining a hit from that.

You always opt for new voices a new kinds of tracks when there are so many accomplished singers in the south as well as in Mumbai.Why is it so?

When I was doing commercials I used to get a lot of voices and it was a very interesting part of my career which I loved using different kind of voices training them and ofcourse people recognise new talents.When the composition is new these new singers sing in their own style and sometimes the mistakes they make sounds good and when they sing completely or slightly off it is interesting.

How was the experience working with Lataji?

I wanted to give a nice song to Latji and not a normal one and it was timed perfectly and when Maniji wanted this song 'Jiya Jale', I asked him 'Why dont we let Lataji sing this one?' and he said Ok.Gulzar Ji finished and when we offered her she acceoted it immediately and it was a great honour for us.She stayed for two days and finished the song.

What did she say when she heard you r composition for the first time.Did she say something.

I was so scared since this was the first time, after finishing I just kept quite.She said 'Why dont you answer?Is it good or bad?'.(laughs).I said 'How it be bad if you sing?' and then she went to Bombay and said 'This composer is not talking anything.I dont know whether he likes it or not'.

People say when you are composing the music its a one-man show and its just yours.

I wouldn't say its just mine because first of all there's a director who gives the thought and there is a tune which is composed and there is a lyric writer who plays a very important role in making the song good and respectable and then I put a rough thing on a computer and take the voice and then I call the musicians .Mostly people dont see that part since they just come for the voice mixing and they see me taking it on the computer.After that there is a process where I call all the musicians with the real part to add life to that and we mix it in such a way it sounds new.

How would you describe A.R.Rahman in your own words?

A.R.Rahman is a failure and slowly he is trying to reach something

to be continued on 2/2/99 at 8:30 p.m

other interviews | part two



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