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29 Years of Mohra EXCLUSIVE: Viju Shah shares RARE trivia about the film’s music and its Shashi Kapoor and Dilip Kumar connection; also says, “I had told Rajiv Rai, ‘Hum yeh album buffet dinner jaisa bana denge. Jisko jo khana hai, khaayega’”

en Bollywood News 29 Years of Mohra EXCLUSIVE: Viju Shah shares RARE trivia about the film’s music and its Shashi Kapoor and Dilip Kumar connection; also says, “I had told Rajiv Rai, ‘Hum yeh album buffet dinner jaisa bana denge. Jisko jo khana hai, khaayega’”

Viju Shah, the iconic music director, who composed unforgettable songs in films like Tridev (1989), Vishwatma (1992), Mohra (1994), Gupt (1997), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998) etc exclusively spoke with Bollywood Hungama about his journey and in the process, shared fascinating trivia. He talked in detail about Mohra especially, which completed 29 years on July 1. It starred Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Raveena Tandon and Naseeruddin Shah and was directed by Rajiv Rai.

29 Years of Mohra EXCLUSIVE: Viju Shah shares RARE trivia about the film’s music and its Shashi Kapoor and Dilip Kumar connection; also says, “I had told Rajiv Rai, ‘Hum yeh album buffet dinner jaisa bana denge. Jisko jo khana hai, khaayega’”

29 Years of Mohra EXCLUSIVE: Viju Shah shares RARE trivia about the film’s music and its Shashi Kapoor and Dilip Kumar connection; also says, “I had told Rajiv Rai, ‘Hum yeh album buffet dinner jaisa bana denge. Jisko jo khana hai, khaayega’”

You surprised many when you said in an interview that you are not able to recreate the sound you used in Mohra’s song, ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’….
It’s always difficult to recreate because I don’t know what combinations I had done then. On the keyboard, you had to create sound on your own. There are no presets. Even at that point, a lot of musicians had asked me ‘Waisa hi sound chahiye’. I told them I’ll try to come closer to it though I don’t know if I can recreate it. It was a combination of 8-10 synth modules. Even if I get the same sounds, the balance between them is what also counts. We recorded the song in Film Centre in one go. Uss time pe kya balance hua hoga, I don’t know. I created this patch when I was dubbing for Anand-Milind on a film. The singer was dubbing the song. We were supposed to record our song the next day. I was preparing for it and listening to my headphones. Then I locked the sound and decided to make director Rajiv Rai hear it.

You had a small argument with Anand Bakshi over ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’ too…
It was not an argument as such. Rajiv used to approve the tune and then we would go for the lyrics of the song. He was comfortable with that arrangement. But there have been exceptions too. For instance, ‘Saat Samandar’ was written first and composed later. With ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’, Bakshi saab felt that the tune was too stretched. He gave an example of some song and insisted that ‘Chhoti tune banao. Logon ko fatafat yaad reh jaata hai’. However, we had worked for 3-4 days to come up with the tune. Moreover, if I would use a short tune, Rajiv would be like ‘Arre yeh toh bahut jaldi khatam ho gaya. Aur kuch hona chahiye’. ‘Aur kuch hona chahiye’ was his standard line! So, I insisted either Rajiv Rai okays it and we go ahead as per the plan or else, we’ll forget this tune and Bakshi saab can give us a mukhda. Bakshi saab decided to give the tune another chance. Suddenly, he chanced upon the line ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’. I sang it and realized that it fits the tune. In 15-20 minutes, the song was locked.

Is it true that ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast’ was based on love for alcohol?
The thought process behind the song was that ‘Aadmi agar mast ho jaaye, toh kya mehsoos karega’. This was the idea and not alcohol. It was a nice idea, but we wanted the use of the word ‘Mast’. Then, Rajiv insisted on using double words. He was adamant. Bakshi saab was finding it a little difficult. Rajiv told him, ‘Agar aaj aapka mood nahi hai, toh kal karengeMain shoot bhi delay kar doongaLekin double words toh gaane mein aane hi chahiye’. We finalized the song in 6 sittings. This is the longest time that Bakshi saab had spent on a single song! He had told me, ‘Meri life mein kabhi aisa hua nahi hai. Bhagwan karein, Rajiv acchi film bana le aur sab achha ho jaaye’.

A standout song in Mohra was ‘Na Kajre Ki Dhar’
We locked on it before ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast’. It was a very old song by Kalyanji-Anandji, written by Indeevar ji. It was recorded for a film, starring Shashi Kapoor, which was to be produced by the makers of Saraswatichandra (1968). It was sung by Mukesh ji. That film got shelved. I liked that song very much, as a kid. It remained in my mind. During Mohra, when Rajiv expressed his requirement for a romantic song for Suniel Shetty and Poonam Jhawer, I decided to pitch this song. However, the original song was very slow. I had to orchestrate it with some peppy rhythm. I worked on it and Rajiv liked it. However, it was a solo song, and we wanted a duet. We decided to call in Indeevar ji and ask him to write the female portions.

Interestingly, when Indeevar ji read the lyrics, it didn’t strike him that he had written the song! Nevertheless, he agreed to work on it. He told me, ‘Tum mere bachhe jaise ho. Tum kehte ho toh main likh deta hoon’! We used to call him ‘Kaviraj’. When he asked me who wrote it, I replied, ‘Kaviraj, mujhe nahi malum kisne likha hai. Lekin yeh lines rakhni hai. Aur ladki kya bolegi, yeh aapko likhna hai’. And he wrote. Finally, after the recording was done, I told him, ‘Kaviraj ji, yeh gaana aapne hi likha hai. Aapko pata nahi hai?’. He was stunned! I guess more than 20 years had passed and hence he didn’t remember.

Rajiv insisted that we should get Pankaj Udhas to sing as it’ll suit him better. It became quite a big hit. Pankaj ji would tell me “Whenever I perform, there are two songs which I have to sing – ‘Chhitti Aayi Hai’ and ‘Na Kajre Ki Dhar’.”

In the shelved film, one more song was recorded, sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It’s etched in my mind, and I am hoping to use it soon!

Ultimately, Mohra ended up having various kinds of songs. It was a wholesome album…
Yes. I had told Rajiv, ‘Hum yeh album buffet dinner jaisa bana denge. Jisko jo khana haikhaayega’!

An underrated song in Mohra’s album is ‘Aye Kaash Kahin Aisa Hota’
That song was to be used by Dilip Kumar in his directorial film, Kalinga. Bakshi saab had penned it. Rajiv had read the mukhda. He told Bakshi saab, ‘Agar yeh gaana aapne use nahi kiya, toh aap mujhe dena. Main kahaan use karunga, mujhe nahi malum lekin use zaroor karoonga’. This is much before the situation emerged in Mohra’s script. Kumar Sanu speaks highly of that track and says that he always sings it in his performances.

Have you ever interacted with Akshay Kumar and Raveena Tandon after Mohra?
No. I haven’t interacted with Akshay. However, I did meet Raveena last year. We had a friend’s gathering nearby. She learnt that I am coming and that I am going to play some songs. So, she came. She told me, ‘Hum dono bhale na rahein, hamare gaane bajte rahenge’ (smiles)! I have had an association with Raveena as we worked together in films like Mohra and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998).

Did you ever go to the cinema halls to see the reactions of people to your songs?
No, I have never done it. However, during Tridev, the film’s team had gone to a theatre in Kurla. The film was released there a day or two earlier. The response to the song 'Gazar Ne Kiya Hai Ishara' was such that one staffperson remarked, ‘Iss film ko rokna mushkil hai’! When Amrish Puri sings ‘Oye, Oye’, people went berserk. The theatre staff were pressurized to replay the song. A staffer at Chandan cinema told Gulshan Rai, Rajiv’s father, during the release of Tridev‘Bahut saalon ke baad humne House Full ka board bahar lagaya hai’!

Were you happy with the remixes of ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’ in Sooryavanshi (2021) and ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast’ in Machine (2017)?
See, it’s good when another mind works on a song. I did whatever I could as per the times we were living in then. Today, if I have to recreate my own songs, I’d do it in a different way. But I won’t be able to reproduce the sound used for the signature theme. If you see the remix of ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’, that unique sound, which was present in the original, is missing. It was the soul of the song, and it’s absent in the remix. For years, one music show on MTV or Channel [V] had the ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’ signature tune as their logo sound. My song ‘Aankh Maarey’ was recreated (in Simmba; 2018). One of the plus points of the recreation, according to me, was the use of ‘Aa Aa Aa’ and I knew it’ll catch on with the youngsters.

What also worked in the remix song of ‘Aankh Maarey’ was that it was choreographed well. That was missing in the song in Machine.

Also, the impact is there when it’s used in a big film. I also recreated two songs from Victoria No 203 (1972) in the remake - 'Thoda Sa Thehro' and 'Do Bechare'. But no one even knows about it. I was asked why I recreated it. I jokingly said ‘Mere baap ka maal hai’ (Kalyanji-Anandji had composed the songs in the original film)!

My resentment of this whole trend is why they are only picking popular songs. They should recreate the songs which have gone unnoticed.

Are you surprised that Gupt’s songs haven’t been remixed yet?
Yes, even I am surprised (smiles)! I guess koi na koi toh karega. But it’ll be difficult. Even during the remix of ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’, Rajiv had got an injunction on it. Later, a settlement was done. So, if anyone wants to remix Gupt’s songs, they’ll have to take Rajiv’s permission.

Somewhere around the year 2000, Rajiv used to say that we should recreate the songs ourselves before anyone else does it. I was not open to the idea as I felt we should work on original songs. However, what he said has proven true now that the trend of remixes has picked up.

In Kick (2014), your song ‘Saat Samandar’ was used in an important sequence It stood out as it was not remixed. Your thoughts?
Sajid says that it was his tribute to Divya Bharti. What’s important for me is that after so many years, my song is being used and that itself gives me happiness. I had once gone to a sangeet event. I was introduced to the DJ. When he learnt who I am, he told me that there’s never been a gig where he has not played ‘Saat Samandar’. He revealed that as soon as he plays this song, people get charged up and they return to the dance floor! So, I am humbled that my songs are so relevant.

For 'Saat Samandar', Rajiv and I had explained the situation to Bakshi saab. Bakshi saab said, 'Jaldi nahi hai na? Do-teen din laga sakta hoon na?' We assured him that he can take his time. The next day in the morning, he called me to inform me that he has cracked the lyrics. We three met the same day, in the evening.

Bakshi saab got the idea for the phase/term from an old song 'Saat Samundar Paar Se' from Taqdeer (1967). When Rajiv heard the lyrics, he was concerned as he felt that it sounds like a slow track while ours was a disco song. However, I assured him that it'll be done as per his vision.

The beauty of your tracks is that though you used electronic music, it was still quite desi at heart. It worked Pan-India and not just with the elite crowd…
My style is an amalgamation of Indo-Western music. All my songs are composed in this style, be it Mohra, Tridev, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan etc. I knew the masses would love it. When you go to the interiors, this is what works. During the release of Mohra, my friend told me that he was at a tea stall located in a remote village in Ladakh. There, the stall owner played ‘Tu Cheez Badi Mast Mast’ continuously for 20 minutes! He called me and told me ‘Maine iss gaane ko aisi jagah pe suna hai ki kya batau. Iss gaane ko ab koi nahin rok sakta’.

A film named Bade Miyan Chote Miyan is being made. Will it have the remix of the songs which were there in the original?
As of now, it’s not being done. But I guess they’ll do it. They have anyway used the hook line of the title song in the teaser.

Are you on social media?
I am not on Instagram or Twitter. I am on Facebook, but I don’t check. WhatsApp is enough for me. I am not a social media guy at all. Aadmi kaam karein ya social media check karein? It’s basically for networking. I believe my work will speak for itself.

Even as a musician, you used to record just one song at a time…
Back then, if I was able to work on just one song, it was okay. This is because setting up my instruments used to take a lot of time. I had 6-7 keyboards, weighing around 6 kilos. My shift at one studio would end, I’ll pack up and then cart it in my car. Thankfully, the traffic was not that bad. I used to commute by the Tata Safari car then as it would accommodate all the instruments. The second shift in studios would start at 4:00 pm. I’d reach at 6:00 pm. By the time I get it ready, it would take 1 or 1 ½ hours. I used to feel bad as everyone would be ready, and I’ll walk in late. People would look at me and be like, ‘Ab yeh sab setup karega’. But I was not at fault.

Looking at your filmography, it seems you didn’t work in many films. I am sure you have got a lot of offers…
After Mohra, I had too many offers. However, I couldn’t take it because of these reasons and also because I used to work on my songs completely. It’s not like I’ll create a tune and then give it to someone in my team. I would be a part of the whole process, right till the final mixing. I used to even program and arrange the songs myself. That would take time. This is how I liked to work. Many would tell me, ‘Sab ho jaayega’. However, I’d feel awkward if I am not concentrating on a song. Maybe, I am not cut out to do too many songs. And that’s ok. I don’t crib about it.

Final thoughts before we sign off?
Kitna bhi kar lo, jab tak upar waale ka aashirward na ho toh, tab tak kuch nahi hota. Har gaane ki kundli pehle se hi likhi hui hai. I strongly believe in it. People ask me ‘Aapko pehle se pata tha na ki yeh gaana super-hit hoga’. I get so amused by it. If we had known the formula, no one would have given a flop song. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into making a song. We have to impress 140 crore people. It’s not easy. If they don’t like it, they’ll straightaway call it bakwaas and move on.

Also Read: 25 Years of Gupt: The genius behind the tracks of Gupt, Viju Shah opens up on composing and recreating tracks


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