Two seasons down, how come you’re the only common factor in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge?
I have had a long association with Zee TV. I produced my first show for them at the age of 16 and then produced six more. That was long before Salman Khan gave me my first big break as a composer with Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya. Sa Re Ga Ma has been a pioneering show. The talent discovered has been amazing. Today, there are 50-60 singers on the scene, opposed to the usual five or six.
What’s different about Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009 apart from three new mentors?
We’re looking for an indispensable voice. Nowadays, the music director is on top. He creates a composition, if he is dissatisfied with the way a certain singer has rendered it, he gets it redone by another singer. We want to find singers who will become indispensable. If they can’t sing a particular song, no one else can.
Whom will you miss most from the previous season?
All of them will be missed, Vishal-Shekhar, Bappi Lahiri and Ismailji (Darbar). But I’m fortunate to have already formed a bond with Shankar Mahadevan, Aadeshji (Shrivastav) and Pritam. Sonu Nigam said in an interview that he didn’t believe in the gharana system. I respect his opinion. However, the gharana system has worked for the show’s TRPs. I see nothing wrong in it. New singers are being watched by the public, it isn’t a case of jungle mein mor naacha kisi ne na dekha. If that is achieved through the gharana system, which is unique to our show, what’s the problem?
In Season One, you sported neither a beard nor a cap. In Season Two, you had both. Now the cap’s off but the beard stays.. huh?
It just so happened that Season Two was around the same time that I was shooting for Aap ka Surroor which had that look. Now, I’m shooting for Hhey Gujjubhai, so this look. Also, now that I’ve established myself as a composer, singer, rock star and actor, I need to look a certain way, be presentable. The look has not been planned for every season. At heart, I’m still the same Gujarati dhokla boy .
Have you ever thought of producing shows on television again?
Why did you start off as a producer?
See, music was always in my blood but I didn’t want to struggle in the industry. Producing shows meant creating a name for myself and making money too.
What do you think of television shows today?
They have become a lot more dramatic and TRP-oriented. But they work because they’re entertaining. I enjoy the comedy shows.
Since you’ve donned so many caps already, ever plan to direct?
No, never. It’s a very stressful job. I’m happy being a composer-singer-actor. I don’t even compose music for films.. other than the ones I act in any more. It gives more exclusivity to my producers and I’m happier that way .
Why do you keep your personal life so guarded? Not many know that you’re married and a father too.
My wife and son are both very shy. My son is barely 10.
Finally, whatever happened to all your caps?
(Laughs) They’re all still with me. I consider them my lucky charms. And yes, even today if I see an attractive cap, I buy it.