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Param and his music men

I want you to sing Rabindrasangeet now,” said composer Indraadip Dasgupta as soon as K. Mohan, lead vocalist of band Agnee, walked in. For Parambrata Chattopadhyay’s Hawa Bodol, which releases on March 22, Mohan has sung Bhoy dekhas na please. Arijit ‘Barfi!’ Singh has sung the same number as well as Mone porle. Over coffee and kebabs at Rainey Court Residency, the music team of Hawa Bodol tuned into an adda with t2...

Tell us how this collaboration happened...

Indraadip: Well, I like Arijit’s songs (sang in Bojhena Shey Bojhena and Barfi! and is assisting music director Pritam). About Mohan what should I say? After Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, Banglay eto bhaari gola aar aasheyni!

Mohan: I know he’s half-sarcastic!

Indraadip: No, really. I haven’t heard his kind of baritone. Mohan’s voice has an edge. He has his way of speaking Bengali, which is why I wanted to work with him. Mohan came to Calcutta during a Diwali vacation and I gave him the song (Bhoy dekhas na). Both he and Arijit are music directors, so you can imagine how easy my job was.

Parambrata: For me, musicians have always been bigger idols than film actors. I have been listening to Mohan’s songs right from Shaam tanha, from their very first album (Agnee) way back in 2007.

Mohan: Thank you, thank you!

Param: I told Indraadipda, let’s have him for one of the songs. And Arijit, we fell in love with him after Raabta (Agent Vinod).

Mohan, despite being based in Calcutta, this is the first time you’ve sung for a Bengali film...

Mohan: Second time (Mukul Roy Chowdhury’s Taan was his first). The Bengali I can speak is very colloquial. I’ve sung Bhoy dekhas na, I think I dubbed it 10 times and Indraadip asked me to sing again! See, once we get into composition mode, I start living the song. I decided to take the Agnee team for the song with Aditya our keyboardist and Coco our guitarist, so now it’s an Agnee version. The composition is the same, we just changed the arrangements. There’s a live feel. That’s what we like doing because we are a band and it helped.

Why haven’t you done more film music?

Mohan: Why I don’t look at films as an option is because it’s a very simple career option for singers and I don’t see myself as a singer per se. I see myself more as someone who likes emoting a lyric. I like composing, which is why improvisation becomes an important part of what I do. I am not the best singer around. What I have is an identifiable voice and I try and exploit that.

Arijit: He is a fantabulous singer.

Mohan: Okay, leaving qualitative assessment aside, thank you! There’s happiness in doing songs you identify with. That’s why I keep saying I don’t want to look at playback as a career. Bhoy is so me and I’m so proud of it. Secondly, working with Indraadip is a different experience, it increases your understanding of music. His melodies are very simple but are actually very complex. He is a superb composer and a very grumpy music director!

Param, what was your brief for the music?

Indraadip: No brief, only briefcase from the producers!

Param: I’m sure everybody has their own way of working but I think I made Indraadipda’s life hell for the last five months!

Indraadip: Not for the songs but for the background score.

Param: For this film, I really wanted very simple acoustic sound, more like a live sound. There’s only one song which Vishal (Dadlani) has sung, which is kind of uptempo, programmed and arranged… I sometimes go to the extent of mentioning instruments! Like I told him I want a nylon string guitar...

Indraadip: His suggestions are not entirely wrong!

Param, it seems that music plays a vital part in Hawa Bodol. What do Vishal Dadlani and Mohan bring to the table?

Param: When people approach me to do their films, I always ask them if their films have songs. A lot of filmmakers, in order to be different, say no. I tell them that having songs in our films is a tradition that is unique. I am not talking about song-and-dance sequences shot abroad, but using songs as the background to help the story move ahead. I like visualising songs a lot. As an actor, I like being in song sequences. More than anything else, music helps create an added peg in your film. It becomes a lot easier to promote your film through music.

I didn’t really think about what Vishal or Mohan would bring to the table. We didn’t do it consciously. Even Sunidhi (Chauhan has also sung Bhoy)... since Neha (Panda) lipsyncs this song, we wanted someone whose Bengali pronunciation isn’t very clear, that’s why Sunidhi.

Arijit: Actually, songs decide the singer. You can’t decide a singer and make a song.

Indraadip, how difficult is it to create your own style of music?

Indraadip: Signature style is something which comes from within. If it’s there, it’s there. All women make pudding, only some make it very tasty. Signature style cannot be created. Music is basically a philosophy of life. It’s an extension of my being.

Mohan, do you keep track of Bengali film music?

Mohan: No. I grew up in Calcutta but never really heard Bengali film songs, never watched Bengali films. It’s always been Carnatic music.... I used to listen to Nusratsaab (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) and Ghulam Ali, so I grew up with them. Kishore Kumar had to happen in anyone’s life. I’ve heard his Bengali songs too but I think his songs are not Bengali songs, his songs are songs…


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