Where did you disappear after Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye?
(Smiles) I was just being careful. I didn’t want to take on everything that came my way. Like in the case of Oye Lucky, I wanted to enjoy working on every soundtrack completely before I moved on. I started working on LSD within two months of Oye Lucky, and did quite a few ads too.
(Chuckles) It’s alright to not do too much work. Besides, I was mostly getting offered Punjabi numbers since Oye Lucky’s Punjabi numbers were a hit. But I didn’t want to do the same thing and earn quick money.
Do you only want to associate yourself with alternate cinema?
My criterion to choose movies has nothing to do with parallel cinema; I want to compose for every genre, but I want to work with directors who’d let me do it my way. I’ll work for Bhojpuri, Marathi or Telegu films also, if I get a chance.
Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye’s tracks went on become underground hits. Are you happy with the recognition from within the industry?
If you mean awards, it doesn’t matter if I get recognized or not. The songs should justify the film, I am not concerned about things beyond my job. But otherwise, everyone who’s met me over last year has invariably spoken about the intricacies of the music of Oye Lucky. (Smiles) Everyone’s still enjoying it, so I’m happy.
You had earlier said how people wouldn’t take you seriously since you are a female composer, and quite young. Has that changed?
(Laughs) Yeah, after the soundtrack, people know my sensibilities and don’t ask me questions they asked me before. But a lot of people are still surprised on meeting me. I feel they expect something else. I’m not Punjabi, not a guy, not a traditional composer in that sense, so they try to decode me for sometime before they trust me. It’s a waste of time, I think!
Did Kailash Kher trust you explicitly? Or did he need to be convinced to sing ‘Tu nangi achchi lagti hai’, considering he’s a ‘sufi’ singer?
(Laughs) Kailash is really versatile because he’s got a kink in him. He’s an extremely intelligent guy, and he immediately understood the humour in the songs. He had earlier sung ‘Chak de phatte’ for Khosla Ka Ghosla, so he has a good equation with Dibakar.
There’s a character in the movie called Loki Local, who’s a singer from the hinterland, and has made it in Bollywood. Dibakar explained the concept to Kailash and he wonderfully got into that mode.
What did you think of the lyrics?
When Dibakar told me the story and lyrics, I thought they were perfect for the movie. The quirky lyrics inspired the melodies. In fact, I wish there had been no controversy and that the lyrics wouldn’t have been changed from Tu nangi achchi lagti hai to Tu gandi achchi lagti hai, because I think the audience is ready for such lyrics. The song would have had more impact that way, since in the movie’s sequence, the song is banned for its lyrics!
This is your first soundtrack with female singers on it, you’ve composed your first ‘item number’ and a mushy, romantic number, and have even sung on it.
(Chuckles) I didn’t choose not to work with male singers, it was just a coincidence. ‘I can’t hold it any longer’ wasn’t supposed to be an ‘item number’ initially. I took the scratch to Dibakar and he liked it, so he incorporated it in the script. We decided to keep it on the soundtrack since the song had more to do with expression and attitude than perfect playback singing.
And ‘Bollywood style mohabbat’ is a fun take on the typical Bollywood romantic numbers we’ve grown up on. It’s a tribute to the superhero, superstardom and super-love in our movies. So we wanted the singers to seriously sing it, rather than make fun of it.
What next? Will you disappear for another year?
(Laughs) No, I’ve already started working on my next movie. It’s a UTV film, on gangsters in the Bihar-Jharkhand belt, directed by Anurag Kashyap. I’m going to spend this month researching in Bihar and recording with singers here.