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interview: ndtv - shreen - june 2000


“...I try to break the conventional way of having a track.”

interviewed by shreen, ndtv

Is it true that, when singers come to your studios to record and later when they hear the final of product, there is a huge amount of difference?
The difference is there but not for all the songs. In some of the songs I try to break the conventional way of having a track and ask the singers to sing freely without any inhibitions, and there comes a point when the song elevates and at times by nearly 300 percent. I think we have a couple of songs like that in “Taal” which are slightly wild, singing wise.

There are rumours that you terrorise your singers?
No. I think they are very comfortable with me. Yes, initially when they come in, they think who's this guy but once they start singing, it is very easy for them.

How long do you normally take on a song, for instance how long did it take for the songs in “Taal”?
We started working on the songs for “Taal” in 1995 and the first song took 45 days, the second one took one week, then it became faster. I think it was because I had to compose Hindi lyrics.

So now are you well versed in Urdu?
I wouldn't say well versed but I am nearly at it.

Does that make a great difference to your music?
Definitely, there are much better nuances of Urdu poetry and stuff like that that I understand now.

So would you say this particular album, "Taal" is particularly influenced by that?
In fact, this album has influenced my other films, because working on this I have gained more Hindi knowledge and more North Indian music knowledge because the film required it.

When you talk about North Indian music what is that particular stream that you are hinting at?
It is a Kashmiri and Punjabi mixed kind of a thing with an international kind of background. Moreover, it is folk, classical and western all mixed together, just to suit the film.

After a director comes to you and explains the film to you, do you work independently beyond that?
Usually a director first talks about the script and then he tells me as to what kind of music he wants and I get a fair idea of what he is looking for. The director then tells me about what he liked in my previous work and what he didn't. So I know the Do's and don'ts and once you start working on the first song you realise that it's taking shape.

Do you keep in mind the actress and actors on whom the song is going to be picturised?
It's more important to keep in mind the character, if I think about the actor then it will sound the same for the actor for whichever film I am doing. For instance, in "Taal" Anil Kapoor plays a very different kind of a character and the music is to suit his role.

Since you are working on simultaneous projects, does it sometimes bother you that some of your sounds might overlap?
The director takes care of that, as they are mostly particular of how their films sound.

Do you always listen to the director?
Yes of course. The main thing is that I give them a lot of choices, and when they hear my tunes I am not inside the room with them, so they can choose whichever one they like. I heard some people say that I just give one tune, which is not true.

What has been the biggest influence on your music, through the years?
I think working with Mani Rathnam. Starting with him uplifted my energies because whenever I work with him he wants the best and something international, so you don't sleep for days. It's the same tension when I work with Subhash Ghai. He also wants something original, classy and international.

As you said songs could take 2 days to 45 days, so what is it about a song that convinces you this is it?
Instinct wise you know, it’s working even if other people don't agree. On the other hand, if they say its working and I don't feel right then I keep working on it and they feel very irritated. Finally when they realise that yes there was something, which was missing which I found out, they also accept it.

Do you have this reputation of being difficult to work with?
Yes difficult for the product but not as a person.

So what's next after “Taal”?
Film wise, after “Taal” I am doing “Pukar” “Thakshak” and Earth.

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