?If a film has a heart it will reach out to everyone?
Q:Your fourth film, Black, is ready for release. How does it feel?
Like delivering another baby (laughs). Relieved, ecstatic and tense as it goes into the world. Initially, it was very tough making a film without songs. I can?t survive without songs. I listen to Lataji at least four or five hours a day. For me, a film without songs was inconceivable before Black. But I wanted the challenge of attracting audience without my habitual leitmotif. The presence of India?s greatest star-actor, Amitabh Bachchan, helped me immensely. I?ve realised there?s no actor like him in Indian cinema. I?ve three idols, Lata Mangeshkar, Birju Maharaj and Amitabh Bachchan. And I?m proud to say I?ve worked with two of them.
Black departs from Devdas almost diametrically. It was a spontaneous decision. After Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas I could?ve easily planned another film in the romantic genre. But I felt like moving away. My audience wants me to move on. Black is a subject I?ve lived with for six years. I just had to make it. Though Black has no songs, it?s treated musically. The lyricism is inherent in the scenes, which look like song sequences. A song isn?t the only way to interpret the lyricism. I didn?t miss songs in Black. They would?ve been a hindrance to the narrative.
Q:Your Devdas was selected as one of the best musicals by Sight & Sound magazine?
Finally, the hard work we put into creating the music seems to be paying off. I feel filmmakers need to create and cultivate tastes rather than pander to what the market thinks is the right product. For all the efforts that Ismail Durbar, Monty, Birju Maharaj and I put into creating the sound of Devdas everyone felt the music score in my earlier film, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, was better. But I feel we tend to revere the past unnecessarily. Jo pehle hua woh achchha hai, jo ab hai woh theek nahin hai? We can?t cling to the past and rubbish the present. Film music needs to grow. Songs don?t need to be designed for the television promotions. They must suit the film. Success on every other level must follow from that source. Images from the music should reflect the reality about the film. To get recognition for the music whose language is not accessible to the West is amazing.
Q:Do you think Devdas got the recognition it deserved?
I feel Devdas has come a long way. It was premiered at the Cannes film festival --- the first Indian film in years to get this chance. It got a BAFTA nomination. It got released in a dubbed French version in France with 50 prints with all the dances and songs. And people loved it! Everything went wrong during the making of Devdas. But it finally came out so right.
Q:Why hasn?t Ismail Durbar?s career taken off?
I wouldn?t want to comment on that. We worked for months and years to create the sounds for Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas. Others want overnight scores. That could be a problem for any composer. I think the honesty and passion of the filmmaker motivates the music director. Whatever work I did with Ismail I enjoyed. I wish him all the best. But now I feel I need to explore another sound. Movement is very essential for creative growth. In spite of working so well with Salman Khan in Khamoshi and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam I chose to work with Shah Rukh Khan in Devdas?. Monty is giving me that. His background score in Black is comparable to any international counterpart. It?s not as Indian as Devdas, but a more global sound. We?ve used whatever instrument and sound seemed right for the occasion. Music ka koi dharm nahin hota hai.
Q:Do you think Black has the potential to create the same impact as Devdas?
When Lataji sings she doesn?t know she?s creating a monumental melody. Creation is about being fully alive. The whole nation has a heart. If a film has a heart it will reach out to everyone.