Not very long ago, the Bollywood music industry functioned in a way most businesses do — characterised by tight cliques and monopolised by a powerful few. But lately, the walls of separation between composers’ camps are breaking and its positive outcomes are becoming more and more apparent. Unique partnerships such as composer Vishal Dadlanilending his voice to a song composed by rival music director Pritam, or Shankar Mahadevan singing for a track by Vishal-Shekhar are being witnessed more frequently. In this feature, we get these singer-composers to talk about teaming with their peers, who, technically, are their rivals in the industry.
‘We are a lot cooler than the yesteryear composers’
Playback for: ‘Chingam chabake’ (Gori Tere Pyaar Mein) composed by Vishal-Shekhar; ‘Oye Boy Charlie’ (Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola) composed by Vishal Bhardwaj
“One of the biggest reasons why I’m comfortable doing playback for anyone is that I love singing. When another composer calls you to sing, it shows that there is no insecurity. It also means that they respect your work. As a singer, I ensure that when I go behind the mic, I am only a singer. The composer should be comfortable suggesting what he wants from the song. I ensure this even when my son, Siddharth, composes.
As far as competition goes, the environment today is very healthy. I don’t think this has always been the case. We are a lot cooler than the yesteryear composers. We admire each other’s work. I am great friends with Vishal-Shekhar and Vishal Bhardwaj. When it comes to improvisation, most composers allow me to contribute.”
‘There is no ego as everyone wants to make good music’
Playback for: ‘Balam pichkari’ and ‘Ghagra’ (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani; 2013) composed by Pritam; ‘Jee le zaraa’ (Talaash; 2012) composed by Ram Sampath
“Music is a collaborative thing. For someone like me who hasn’t studied music, I have learnt the art by listening to all kinds of composers and genres. If you get a playback offer from some other composer, it shows that they trust you with the song. So I try to give my best shot as a singer then.
When you are offered a song, 99 per cent of the time the composer has already designed it in a particular way. But, whenever there is scope for improvisation, they are always open to suggestions. There is no ego as everyone wants to make good music. We are all great friends. I share a great rapport with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Pritam, Sachin-Jigar, Amit Trivedi and Sneha Khanwalkar. Sometimes, Pritam calls me in the middle of the night to share something. All of us respect each other’s work.”