Not too many musicians in Bollywood can boast of a discography that is as impressive as composer duo Vishal-Shekhar’s. From the soundtracks of Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (PMKK; 1999) and Kaante (2002), to those of Happy New Year (2014) and Bang Bang (2014) — they’ve given the industry several hits. And while the perception is that Vishal Dadlani is seen as much as he is heard, his partner, Shekhar Ravjiani is more of a recluse. He even admits that he has “always liked creating more noise inside the studio than outside”.
HT catch up with Ravjiani at his Bandra (W) studio, as he talks about his much-anticipated solo project, his association with Vishal, working in Bollywood, plans for opening a music school, and more.
Is it true that your musical journey started with a TV show?
That is actually a misconception. Professionally, I started with advertising; I used to make jingles. A friend of mine went to audition for Sa Re Ga Ma; since I was accompanying him, he asked me to give it a shot. So I sang a song, got selected and reached the finals. A couple of years later, I was approached to be the judge on the same show.
Was Bollywood always part of your plan?
No, I had no plans for Bollywood, and my family had no connections. It all started when a friend introduced me to Mukul Anand (film-maker), who offered me Dus (1997). After that, Raj Kaushal (film-maker) offered me PMKK.
As compared to your partner, Vishal, you tend to keep a low profile. Why?
I have spent all 15 years of my working life creating music and singing. It is only a couple of years back that I learnt the importance of being on Facebook and Twitter, of having a PR representative, and of being seen in public.
Vishal is often considered the face of Vishal-Shekhar as he is more outspoken. What’s your take on that?
When it comes to our collaboration, one of us speaks for the other and we’re both in sync. But, at the end of the day, we’re both very different people. For me, fewer words have always worked.
How did you come to work with Vishal?
I was asked to do two songs for PMKK. One day, as I was leaving the recording studio, I saw Vishal walk in. We are childhood friends. When we got to know that both of us were working on the same film, we interacted more and played our songs for each other. Then we decided to do the last song of the film together. That’s how Vishal-Shekhar was formed.
Has your equation with him changed over the years?
Vishal is like family. We have fought and broken up many times. But after 15 years of working together, you tend to go with the flow. We know each other very well now.
You two haven’t had a Bollywood release this year. Why?
We are jamming and writing songs together, and listening to scripts currently. We are taking time out to work on our solo projects as well. Also, we have been busy with concerts internationally.
Tell us about the solo projects you’re currently working on?
I am working on a single right now, which is a fun song. It has been written by Amitabh Bhattacharya, and it will be out within the next three months. I am also working on a Hindi album, called Maati, with Swanand Kirkire (lyricist). We have been working on it for almost four years now; it will release by the end of 2015.
As an artiste, what are your aspirations?
I believe in promoting new talent. I feel really happy when I see more composers and singers coming into the industry. Eventually, I want to start a music school, which will offer courses on different kinds of music. I have been teaching a 10-year-old girl for the last two years.
When budding artistes send you their songs on social media platforms, do you respond to them?
I listen and respond to every piece of work that is sent to me. I get close to 15 samples every month, so I make sure I share my feedback. People can send me their work on my Facebook page or via my official website.