Do you remember when you first got fascinated with Indian music?
I was always into Indian and Middle Eastern music. I can’t remember exactly when it started, but I feel like it’s been a part of me since forever. It has influenced my ideas about music to a large extent. AR Rahman’s music, especially Taal, had a major impact on me after I heard it. That man is true brilliance. His music has opened me up in a way I can’t describe.
You first got associated with Bollywood through Gangaajal. How did that movie happen?
I met Prakash Jha through a common friend. He had wanted a certain kind of fusion, of western and Indian music for his movie. Since he had heard my music, he asked me to work with him. His ideas about music worked well with me, and the next thing I know, I was here in India doing what I love the most.
Since you have already worked on a few Bollywood movies, was it easier to compose for Lahore?
In a way, yes. The director of the movie, Sanjay Chauhan, was with me throughout the time I was composing the score. He made me comfortable with the entire script, emotions and drama involved. I was in sync with whatever was happening in the movie with his help, and (smiles) I think I managed to get things right. I explored the intensity and drama in the movie, scene-by-scene, by referring to subtitles.
Who has sung for the movie?
I have Lisbeth Scott, who’s sung for movies like Avatar, Transformers and King Kong, on board. She’s undoubtedly the most intense singer I have ever come across, and yet, she’s so serene. The passion with which she sings is marvellous. I have used her voice throughout the movie, in harmony and rhythm with the sounds, drama, emotions, intensity and action of that scene.
Did you use any traditional Indian instruments for the score?
Well, Sanjay had some amazing ideas. I prepared the melody in my studio in New York and then came to India and used drums, tablas and flute on it. The result was extraordinary. I am really proud of my work in Lahore and can’t wait for its release. The sound track has moved me.
So, besides AR Rahman, which Indian musicians do you look upto?
As I’ve told you, I’ve always been mesmerised by the beauty of Indian music. I am really fond of Ustad Sultan Khan’s work. Then, of course, I love the music by Pandit Ravi Shankar and his daughter, Anoushka Shankar. I have worked with Sonu Niigaam as well, and I honestly feel fortunate to be associated with an outstanding singer like him. There really are no words to describe the kind of talent that has come from this land.
Do you plan to form an independent band sometime, or will you only compose for movies?
I was planning to, but (chuckles) honestly, I realised that I am not very good with live performances. I am comfortable in my studio and can work best there.