Himesh Reshammiya is back on the small screen as mentor of the Indian team in the music reality show Sur-Kshetra, which has singers from Pakistan competing against their Indian counterparts. Pakistani singer-turned-actor Atif Aslam leads the team from across the border. In the judges’ seats is a star sub-continental cast of Abida Parveen from Pakistan, Asha Bhosle from India and the “neutral” Runa Laila from Bangladesh while actress Ayesha Takia Azmi does the hosting honours. Himesh, crooner-composer-actor, tells t2 about the first reality show to be simulcast by two Hindi general entertainment channels in India — Sahara One and Colors — and also Geo TV in Pakistan.
Are you happy that Sur-Kshetra is beaming on Colors and also on Sahara One? This will be my fourth show, and sixth if you count all the seasons. It’s very exciting that for the first time a reality show will be telecast on two separate channels. This show is building a programme loyalty which I believe will help reach the heights of TRP. I believe in the vision of Mr Boney Kapoor (who joined last year as the director of Sahara One) and Gajendra Singh (who has shows like Antakshari and Sa Re Ga Ma to his credit). This is my third show with Gajendra.... And the money was good.
Was there a period of uncertainly during the shooting about the fate of the show after Sahara One put it on the backburner?
Yes, it got delayed for six months. But big shows like this take time. There was no tension. We have done the shooting in Dubai, a neutral venue. Only the final is left.
Do you like the format of India vs Pakistan in a musical talent hunt?
Pakistani voices are now doing well in India. And this country-specific format has never been tried before in reality shows.
Among the Pakistani singers working here, who is your favourite?
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. I have done two sings with him (Teri meri from Bodyguard and Main jahan rahoon from Namastey London) and both have turned out to be goldmines.
|Himesh with Atif Aslam in Sur-Kshetra
Rahat is from a musical family. What is the standard of the average Pakistani singer?
Atif (Aslam) did the auditions in Pakistan. I will not comment on his team. I chose the Indian participants. The India team has mind-blowing talent. I am 110 per cent confident of victory.
How important was the success of Bodyguard given that you were making a comeback as a full-time composer?
Every venture is important. My last film (before he stopped composing for other heroes), which was my 100th film, Namastey London was a super success. My 101st film Bodyguard was a super hit. In my 102nd film Damadamm!, Umrao jaan was highest on ringtone. Despite releasing opposite Ra.One and with less prints, Damadamm! had a profit of Rs 3.5 crore, giving me my second hit as actor. Of my five films, two have done well. I took a one-and-a-half year break to get creatively reloaded. Now I am back with 500 songs! Bol Bachchan was a hit. Next year will be very busy with four films as composer, seven films as actor, three films as producer, two Hollywood films and an international album releasing in 122 countries with Edward Maya, Lil Wayne and Alexa Godard. The album is called @ Da Edge. Lil Wayne is the biggest rapper in the world and Edward Maya one of the hottest DJs.
Oh My God! has music by you as well as Bizan and Meet Bros Anjjan. Don’t you mind sharing credits?
No, why should I? I started the trend with Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya (the 1998 Salman Khan-Kajol starrer with music by Jatin Lalit, Himesh and Sajid-Wajid).... Go Go Govinda which is already a super-duper hit is my song, as is Hey Ram.
What’s coming after that?
Next will be the music of Son of Sardaar (starring Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha). After that, Khiladi 786 will release on Diwali, co-produced by Akshay Kumar and myself. Akshay will be the lead while I play Mansukh, a Gujarati character.
This will be the first time you will act in a film with someone else as lead.
This will be an out-and-out Akshay film. I will start shooting for my own 3D action film six months later. I have already started losing weight for it. It will be produced by my own company HR Musik. Shooting for another film will start in two months.
Did you launch your own company to have creative control over your work?
See, I am a multi-faceted person. I have produced TV serials, I have done composing, singing, acting. Now I am doing an international album. T-Series and I are back together after the fallout we had. These days there are various kinds of business like digital downloads. My company handles all that.
You are criticised for lacking emotions, especially for never smiling. How difficult was it for you to do a comedy?
I did a lot of workshops. Damadamm! got good reviews from 40 main critics across the country. I have 10 more releases coming up. Fifteen films as actor in three years is something no singer has ever done. Before dying, I will do at least 50 films as an actor.
Finally, have you patched up with Salman Khan [Salman mentored Himesh but fell out when Himesh didn’t make time to score music for his projects]?
Himesh and Salman never parted ways. He is my brother, mentor and godfather. I am thankful he gave me Bodyguard.
Sur-Kshetra airs on Saturday and Sunday at 7.30pm on Sahara One and Colors