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A few more notes to hit
Shaan tries his hands at the drums at Spring Club. Picture by Aranya Sen

One of Bollywood’s favourite voices breezed through town recently. Armed with a smile, his easy charm firmly in place, Shaan spoke to t2 about his commitments, frustrations and the need for music that is fresh, tuneful and honest...

Both Antaheen and Jackpot release on the same day, both banking on music in a big way. What does this mean to you, having sung for both?

There’s a lot of new things happening in terms of Bengali films and music. I’m happy being a part of this change.

I’ve had the good fortune of singing some really nice Bengali songs for Antaheen and Jackpot. For Antaheen, it was back to acoustics; the music is very modern and catchy in terms of musical grammar and instruments used. Even lyrically, its music was very satisfying. Jackpot was special because I’ve sung a remake of Jiboney ki pabo na. I hadn’t heard the song till we finished recording and freaked when Jeet told me it was a legendary song by Manna Dey.

What prompts you to sing for Bengali potboilers?

If I had to catch a flight to come and sing for these films, I wouldn’t have. But it all happens in Mumbai. Often, it’s just a professional commitment which prompts me to take up what comes my way, be it Bengali, Assamese, Oriya or Hindi songs. I know that my Bengali isn’t as Bengali as it should sound. But often, as I’m told, the music director or composer purposely wants that twang in a song.

And well, you don’t refuse work.

Isn’t it tiring juggling playback singing and singing contests?

It’s called time management. You just switch on and switch off and that’s what I’ve been doing for all these years. What’s wonderful is that you can own a song, travel to different places, express certain emotions. Then you take your cheque and come back home to have dinner with your wife and kids. I think that’s fantastic. The best thing about being a singer is you come back home. I could never take up acting.

You’ve done exceptionally well in the past few years. What next?

I hope I’m still a long way away from feeling that I’ve done it all. There’s a lot more I anticipate as a singer, hitting a few notes or bringing in a few nuances to my singing.

When it comes on screen, it shouldn’t jar or sound entirely different from the actor’s personality either. As a creative person, I like to use that in my singing. If it’s Abhishek Bachchan, I wouldn’t be too jumpy, because he has a certain restraint to his style. Likewise, Saif has this Anglicised western space, which I try to bring about in the song without disturbing the aesthetics. I’m training under Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khansaab; it helps me maintain my voice.

What about the album with Sagarika?

We brought out a Bengali album last year based on our father’s work. Something went wrong with the distribution and it wasn’t well received. I don’t want to release my dad’s work like that. There should be reverence or respect for his work. We want to do something in Hindi as a tribute to our dad.

What about composing for films?

At the moment, I’m very low about my talent as a composer. My record label has rejected all my compositions for my new album! The company is serious about making music that is commercially viable and the creative person in me is being slammed — choor choor kore chhere diyechhe shetakey! I’m trying to bridge that gap. I am reworking the stuff and I have also asked Jeet (Ganguly) to compose a few tracks for me. There are certain signature things I want to write or talk about.

Mohua Das
What’s your favourite Shaan song? Tell t2@abpmail.com

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