Another Bong connection

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By MOHUA DAS
  • Published 5.03.09
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Here’s a new voice from Bengal making himself heard in Bollywood. Calcutta boy Dibyendu Mukherji is all over the airwaves with his lounge version of Aa dekhen zara (remixed from Kishore Kumar’s Rocky track) for the March 27 release Aa Dekhen Zara starring Neil Nitin Mukesh and Bipasha Basu. The new singing star on the block was once a familiar face in the city music circuit before he decided to test the Mumbai waters. A couple of hours before the launch of his new band Rising floated by Eros International, Dibyendu opened up to t2 about his choices, chances and a double conquest

How did the song come about?

Remaking a popular old song in Mumbai and getting it accepted is hard but music director Gourav Dasgupta and I were able to do that. The music company loved the lounge version that I sang for the scratch. So we got down to recording it and I ended up singing another song called Paisa hai power also composed by Gourav. That’s a full-on hard rock and electronica-infused song, which will be aired two weeks before the film’s release.

If it’s a remake of the original song did you need to retain the old form or have you played around with the style?

It’s my style completely. Even if I sing hansini I sing it in my own style and that’s what people like. Gourav wanted a different texture and tonality in the singing voice for the remake of the song. It was meant to be softer and relaxing compared to the remix version, which Neil Nitin Mukesh has sung himself. We opted for Aa dekhen zara for its tune and not because it was a Kishore Kumar song. I was a part of arranging the song as well as singing it. For me it was more about singing a new song than copying it the way it’s already been done. There are a lot of Kishore singers in Mumbai who would have done a better job if that was the thing but to sing Kishore Kumar like a rock number without abusing the feel of the lyrics is more difficult. That was challenging for me.

Do you think this song might be your big break in Mumbai’s tinsel town?

Yes, it might just be because of the voice and the music. Neither of them overpowers the other. They’re both very balanced. I’ve been singing for directors who call me now and then to do a bit of background vocals here and there and I don’t even know whether they’ve ever come out. I sang the title track for Victory but it wasn’t publicised so people don't know much about me having sung that song. So, yes, publicity wise too, I’m kind of banking on this song.

But the going has been tough for you…

I arrived in Mumbai in July 2007 and till now I can’t say aami gaan geye phatiye diyechhi. I have to work harder. Singers when they come to Mumbai go door to door meeting music directors and handing out demo CDs which I haven’t done except for meeting Shantanu (Moitra) and Pritam. I got the chance to work as music assistant to Rajesh Roshan after a year of being in Mumbai but left in two weeks. Our wavelengths didn’t match and he didn’t seem open to the world genre of music. My voice has become very husky and heavy because of all the Latin American music I used to do back in Calcutta and some people are actually finding that texture well suited for the kind of contemporary alternative songs happening in Bollywood.

Do you miss the live scene that you were so much a part of in Calcutta?

I did leave live music in Calcutta to come to Mumbai but even here live music was still my priority. I got together with Gourav and Roshan Balu to work together as a team on everything from producing to arranging music for films. Gourav composes, I do the arrangement and layout of the melodies and Roshan engineers the sound. Aa Dekhen Zara would be our first formal release together. That apart, I was also doing some freelance music with Jarrod Woody, a lounge and electronica musician who plays the saxophone. But I didn’t present myself as a singer for these live shows. I’d only do percussion because if I started singing for live gigs in pubs and clubs, producers would not identify me as a recording artiste.

How’s it better in Mumbai?

I came to Mumbai to meet good musicians because Calcutta doesn’t have too much work that helps one grow. Singing Latin American for six years made them feel that was all I could do. I needed to prove that I could do other stuff. Here in Mumbai a lot of people go solo with music arranged and programmed on a laptop. Then it’s synchronisation of two or three musicians playing on that track and not six musicians playing on stage and fighting for a meagre sum of money. Here the bands are backed by good producers who take care of their requirements unlike Calcutta where band members run around for shows.

Tell us about your new band...

The band has been there for more than a year now but was restricted to our practice pad. Today Eros International is producing and managing a band for the first time and it happens to be us. The lineup includes Gourav, Roshan, Shweta Vijay and Mizo Dos. I’m playing the drums and singing. At first we called ourselves Fallen but Viki, our producer, changed it to Rising. He’s happy about us doing Doors or Deep Purple covers as well as Hindi originals. So it’s hip-hop and electronica coming together with hard rock. We have quite a few Hindi originals like Ranbhoomi, which is a hardcore rock song about the 26/11 attack. Also we turn a lot of unused compositions for films into our band song like Rubaru, Jazba, Tanha jiya na jaye. All rock-based ballads since we all come from that genre.

So band or playback singing?

My focus for now is going to be the band. We already have around eight gigs lined up at popular city pubs in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai and Dubai. I’ve sung a bluesy English song called It cuts like a knife for the Hrithik Roshan film Kites and I’ve sung two scratch songs for Ajay Monga’s kid film Padduram starring Darsheel Safary. The song I’ve done is a lot like Maa in Taare Zameen Par... just waiting for the final sanction.