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Last Updated 02.04.2020 | 3:53 PM IST
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“I suggested adding two more songs to Love Aaj Kal” – Pritam

He's not left the Top Ten chartbuster list for a single week for over three years now, and dominated them oftener than others. Hotshot Pritam strikes the jackpot again with Love Aaj Kal with the cream of assignments to follow in '09-'10

Love Aaj Kal consolidates your mega-successful association with Jab We Met director Imtiaz Ali. What explains the track-record?
For one, Imtiaz does not like anything conventional. He's different in his approach, always tangential, never linear. He's GenNext in temperament - chilled-out to an extent that he is Mr Cool himself. He never panics and that's his biggest plus-point. Not just in music but in all aspects - he trusts his technicians completely. He knows that while everyone works with the director's vision and film's demands in mind, they also work for themselves. Like he understands that a composer will never willingly make something sub-standard. Why should I intentionally make a bad song? And he chooses the best. I will give you two examples: one, when Irshadbhai (Irshad Kamil, the lyricist) and I watched LAK for the first time, we came out very depressed, thinking that our music was weak compared to the film as we had only five songs. I suggested two more songs in places where there were montages with background music. Imtiaz was open to them and so came in Aaj din chadheya and my personal favourite from the film Aahun aahun. Even for Jab We Met, I had told them that the Kareena Kapoor song would be my choice and he had agreed. The song I first made wasn't too good but he did not say anything. It was only when I felt that it was not good enough and made Yeh ishq haaye that he admitted that he had kept quiet only because of our pact! There was no panic or anything negative, which was remarkable for such a big director.

Twist and Chor bazaari are the new charttoppers. With that film and Aahun aahun you seem to have blended retro and contemporary perfectly.
That was the concept - the love story in two eras. A film's music has to be composed with the basic theme in mind. I have kept the retro elements in the melodies and blended them with hip-hop and other grooves. The Hemant Kumar-Kalyanji-Anandji Nagin hook was chosen for Twist after considering two more - Leke pehla pehla pyar and Jhumka gira re. And we all loved Irshadbhai's line Let's have some rounaq-shounaq. Chor bazaari has Neeraj and Sunidhi to get the right 'hep' voices for a melody that was rooted to the '50s and '60s. As for Aahun aahun, it was only a groove that we made into a song. This was a song that had us confused because we kept adding and subtracting while making it! Neeraj sings the modern part and Salim the traditional. Till today, I keep feeling that I did not give my 100 per cent to it!

Two points: one, with this film and his Kambakkht Ishq song Neeraj Shridhar evolves from an "item" song man to a proper playback singer. And two, the contrast between his soothing tones and Sunidhi's shrillness jars to an extent and reduces the charm of Chor bazaari.
Frankly, I wanted Neeraj earlier in only Chor bazaari and had others in mind for the remaining two songs. But we had a lot of internal discussion on this and in fact Imtiaz was more convinced about his doing three songs. He simply said, "If Kishore Kumar could sing three songs in one film, why not Neeraj?"
And frankly again, Neeraj deserves it all. He's such a lovely, attitude-free guy.

The Sunidhi Chauhan track, Thoda thoda pyar, is the most infectious track of all, though not as well-promoted. The antara is ingeniously fresh.
That is the wedding song. It has an interesting story to it - the antara was the original mukhda, but after that we decided to use the traditional chorus like the mukhda. Also, when we shot the song, all the characters in the sequence were actually singing the chorus and we incorporated that live chorus later in the audio too!

Mohit Chauhan's Dooriyan sounds very conventional and KK's Main kaun hoon very tame.
I like to decorate songs a lot, but Imtiaz Ali firmly put his foot down and made me keep Dooriyaan very stark. When I saw the film, I understood why he was so firm. We did realise that KK's Main kaun hoon was the weakest song in the film - and yet it could not be different because the situation was very weird by Hindi film standards and it was not designed as a "hit" song. Nevertheless I have received SMS-es that say that it is the best song in the film.
Actually, the best thing about Love Aaj Kal is that I have received feedbacks that say that everyone has different songs as favourites.

Wasn't that true about Jab We Met as well?
It was.

Aaj chaddeya is probably the best Hindi film song of Rahat Fateh Ali Khansaab after Omkara and Namastey London. You reportedly recorded this through the 'Net. But in view of the public sentiment, was it necessary to have a Pakistani voice?
I think that I am as much an Indian as anyone else, and am as concerned about the serious issue of terrorism and violence. But I am completely against banning or discrimination of artistes because of political issues. The Pakistani people are not anti-India. Otherwise Kambakkht Ishq would not have done business of over 50 lakhs there.Besides, I am too small a guy to take such decisions.

Among all composers, you seem to be having the cream of assignments lined up for '09 and '10.
This year, I will be having Abbas-Mustan's Life Partner and an out-and-out Punjabi score in Yash Raj Films' Dil Bole Hadippa!. It's so Punjabi that it will seem that I have worn a pagdi while composing it! I also have three songs in Venus' De Dana Dan. But I am a shade panicky about Mukesh Bhatt's Tum Mile and Tips' Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani, because they were to be released early this year and songs can sound old because today sound changes every three months!
Next year, I will be doing David Dhawan's Hook Ya Crook, Vipul Amrutlal Shah's Action Replay, Tips' Toh Baat Pakki and Parmeet Sethi's film for Yash Raj Films with Shahid Kapoor.
But right now, I am planning to take a break of two months with my wife. It will also be a time for professional stock-taking about my music.

Such as?
Like there are times when I feel that I am becoming repetitious.

An area that is a matter of concern in today's music is rather than the voice dominating over the orchestration, but the vice-versa happens.
I am personally not in favour of keeping the voice too prominent. To me that is not "new-age" because Hindi film music has been like that all the while. Also, I love decorating my songs and putting in a lot of thought into this. And slowly, production is becoming very important. Composition, lyrics and singing are the three pillars of a song and if any of them is weak you go totally wrong. But orchestration is equally important.

And yet even music people insist that songs live on only because of the lyrics, but those are drowned nowadays in the sound-obsession. Many Pritam-watchers feel that good melodies with the other assets too are pulled down by excessive dominance of sound.
If you say so, I will definitely give a thought to this and look into it.

Or is it that instant popularity and sales are important and enduring songs are no longer important?
Not at all. I am definitely keen to have my songs survive!

Screen India

More Pages: Love Aaj Kal Box Office Collection , Love Aaj Kal Movie Review

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