Rabbi Shergill, frank and quite furious, in a chat-up with Nikhil Taneja.
You took Gaurav Dayal to court for plagiarising your song, Ballo in Sorry Bhai!.. but he had arranged the original. What went wrong?
When I write a song, I also compose it, write the chords and the harmony. Once it’s complete, I take it to an arranger so that he can give me the piano, guitar and other instruments that I want. He can’t claim ownership to the song for arranging it, can he?
Is he still a friend?
Yes, and that’s why it has hurt a little more. It’s a little too raw right now, but I want to sit with him and find out his motivations for doing what he did. I like to move on, I don’t hold long-term grudges.
Several of your songs have been embroiled in controversy, some with religious sects too. Are you somewhat fearful when you write such songs now?
Tolstoy once said, “Courage isn’t having no fear, it’s doing the right thing in spite of fear.”
Leading an all-accepting life is scarier than questioning the system.
Most of your songs are quite self-opinionated.
Yeah, I’m an opinionated f***. The world is moved and shaped by such people.. they add colour. Kids today don’t feel anything.. they want to do engineering, then MBA, marry a girl their parents want them to marry and then have kids who end up doing everything just like them. I wouldn’t want to befriend such people!
You have this obvious hard rock side but there’s also a soft, romantic side to you.
Fortunately, I’ve known some special women who inspired my songs. (Laughs) When you drink enough wine, such songs happen.
Will there be a similar mix in your next album?
I don’t know if there will be a next album.. I hope there is. But why should I make an album now? TV doesn’t play it, radio doesn’t play it and shops don’t display them. (Claps hand in exasperation) So, you lick your foot, bide your time and say, “Cool, if you want me to do a film song, I’ll do a film song.”
Why not? Your Delhi Heights sounded good.
(Instantly) I’ve got offers from the who’s who of the industry.. but all of them want me to sing for them. I’m here to compose.. for Delhi Heights, they asked me to compose. I was asked to compose for Fanaa as well.. but that didn’t work out.
Either you don’t do Bollywood and crash and burn, or you do it and survive. I feel sorry for the new guys who have no option.
You say this even though Avengi Ja Nahin sold well.
I’m not here to be the first amongst the bottom heap of losers. Frankly, Indipop is dead, man.. even its funeral is over. I was at the top of the charts for six weeks but the attention span of the channels and consequently the consumers has shrunk. I hope independent music comes back, because we’d be very boring without it.
You composed a song post 26/11, Aadhi kranti, which you sang at IIT Powaii recently. How will it be widely heard if there’s no album?
My new album is pretty much ready.. in fact, I have enough songs for three albums. But I am not going to release them unless somebody backs me up with a huge marketing budget. Or maybe I’ll just go with my songs on ring tones, caller tunes and downloads.
All your songs have a story. Which one is yours?
I wrote a song once, which says, “Meinu na toli mere jhooth tu..” which essentially means, “Don’t judge me by my lies or my truth. Don’t judge me at all, but if you have to, judge my songs.” I’ve led a normal life.. no great rock and roll stories. (Laughs) Or maybe there is! I still have to find out.