After touching 100 films in the twelve years since Tere Liye‘s music score released. Pritam would prefer to do compositions that stay the course rather than those that just hit charts for a short while. As for the films, Jannat 2 is just out, and Ferrari Ki Sawari is coming up.
What do you have to say about the music of Jannat 2?
That I have done my best and that once again, the Bhatts’ banner of Vishesh Films is a very musical one. Mukeshji is like a father-figure to me. Every film he makes comes to me and only if I am not able to take it up out of time constraints does it go to others. I make it a point to fit in at least one film with them every year.
When you do not work with them, they usually get your kind of songs from others, like in Murder 2.
I admit that I did get calls congratulating me for the music of that film (laughs), but it is basically about their preferences in music. Those are the kind of songs that are passed, no matter whoever composes the music. Mukeshji and Maheshji liked a certain kind of music even in the Nadeem Shravan-Anu Malik days. That was the kind of style they loved then.
You have entered two new reputed banners – of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Karan Johar – for the first time. How does it feel?
I have enjoyed doing the songs of Vinodji’s Ferrari Ki Sawari. It’s a nice, different and very laidback score with some really good lyrics. Karan Johar’s production is a complete musical. The film stars Ranbir Kapoor and the brief is eight songs at the moment, though director Ayan Mukerji actually wants more!
What are you working on at the moment?
I am doing Cocktail in which my songs are being used as background songs by Homi Adjania, who is not keen on lip-synch songs. This is something like what happened on Love Aaj Kal. Then there is Race 2, for which work is about to begin. I am doing the sequels – Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2 and Dhoom:3. In fact, sequels of my films have kept me busy with work, as I cannot turn them down. I want to reduce my work, but sequels and friendships are the main reasons why I sign films today. My most challenging assignment today and in my entire career, however, is Barfii.
You have been a fixture with Anurag Basu.
Yes, but Barfii is nothing like his earlier films, or mine for that matter. I am excited, but also worried whether I will meet up with the musical needs of a film in which the hero is a deaf-mute and the heroine is autistic. I am excited because I still think that the music has shaped up very well! (Laughs) The film has an hour and 40 minutes of background music with very sparse dialogues. The music is really sweet.
A hundred films in 12 years is quite an achievement. Do you agree?
I am happy that I have lasted 100 films with so many successful films and scores. But I am not ecstatic about numbers, for at the end of the day, it is more important that my songs are remembered 10 years or more later. I feel now that a certain memorable quality is needed in my songs and it’s time to pay attention to that and make songs that have instant popularity as well as survive later, like a ‘Lag Jaa Gale‘ from Woh Kaun Thi? I know there is no formula for achieving this but my tastes are simple, like most listeners.
Is that why your songs keep reaching or topping charts?
Well, I have followed this logic from the beginning that when I like a song most people do, and so far I have been fairly lucky. There is a very funny situation today – the melody that is being liked is of the desi kind, but at the same time the dependence on orchestration and production is increasing. It almost seems as if two different audiences are there and the trick is in trying to cater to both.
Coming back to your century, which are the films that have really satisfied you?
I think that Tum Mile, Life In A…Metro, Ankahee and Love Aaj Kal are scores that have really satisfied me in totality. As for individual songs there are so many, like ‘Jiye Kyun‘ in Dum Maaro Dum.
Besides the Bhatts, you have had long associations with so many filmmakers like Anurag and Imtiaz Ali.
Strangely enough, I first met them all during my television days when they were involved in serials as well. I have done over 25 of them, including Astitva – Ek Prem Katha, Kashmir, Krishna Arjun, Remix and more. I first worked with Ekta Kapoor too in a serial. I have won three awards during my tenure for the title music for one of her serials as well as for two others!
Of late, you have attributed a lot of your compositions to others in films like Tell Me O Kkhuda, Ready and so on. Is it because you are fed up of being termed a plagiarist?
When I do take up any musical idea from somewhere, I do this to avoid trouble. For Ready, Mika’s portion ‘Barah Mahine‘ and the antaras were mine, but the main hook ‘Dhinka Chika‘ was taken from Devi Sri Prasad’s ‘Ringa Ringa‘.
How do you manage time for your family?
I think they are used to my work schedules now. Right now, things are frantic with five films to go at least this year. But after that I will really cut down on my work if I can.