Sunday confessions: Forgive us, Lord, for we fight!
Did it ever occur to you that the soulful and patriotic tunes of Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi (2018) could be a result of creative disagreements? Does it appear that differences of opinion resulted in the foot-tapping number Señorita in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)? Truth be told, some of the most beautiful compositions by the trio of Shankar Mahadevan-Ehsaan Noorani-Loy Mendonsa are the fruit of creative differences.
Says Ehsaan: “When you’re working in a team, it’s difficult to be objective about your work. I’m always the one having fights with them!” he exclaims.
Of course, no malice is involved but it’s natural to disagree when three people come together to churn out award-winning chart toppers.
One could hardly imagine this when the duo performed flawlessly at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of The Park Hotels in New Delhi. The evening’s opening act did not for a second reveal that behind the scenes Ehsaan, a self-confessed “angry” man, and Loy, who he describes as the “neutral one”, must’ve had differences of opinion on the tunes that set the audiences grooving!
Points of view
“It’s crucial to have creative differences,” says Loy, but cautions that the purpose must be to do justice to the song. “You must keep your ego in check,” he adds.
Disagreements between the three have often resulted in changed tunes that turned out to be hits. For instance, the trio had two different tunes for Señorita, which both Shankar and Loy felt would work well. “Then Loy suddenly came up with the idea of joining half the melody of one song with half of the other. That’s how we got the song!” Ehsaan says.
How are their ideologies different, and how do they coalesce?
“Shankar is ever forgiving; he loves everything we come up with,” says Ehsaan. “Loy tends to be neutral, hears all sides of the story and sees if something can develop. And I tend to be very brutal in the sense that if I like it I like it, else I say no. I like to be fully objective.”
He can be so stubborn about this that he’s left Shankar and Loy over eight times! “I walked out and went home,” Ehsaan giggles.
But the arguments don’t matter as long as the song turns out right. Says Loy: “It’s a strange moment when everyone feels right about a song. The director too takes a call. We are there to enhance his vision but it’s very important for a director to understand your music.”
Shankar comes from an Indian classical background and Ehsaan and Loy come from other ends of the spectrum. “Ehsaan has heard lot of Bollywood music whereas my Bollywood influence is zero! I used to listen to lot of Indian classical music while growing up but I was largely influenced by Western music, classical film scores...” says Loy.
Behind the scenes
Brainstorming is a lovely process too. “When we sit together to brainstorm, little bits of ideas come on... We’ve created some of the biggest hits in five minutes,” says Ehsaan.
And as far as resolving conflicts is concerned, they adopt a simple approach. Loy says: “If you are heated you lose perspective and the anger clouds your judgement. I’ve learnt to always give it time before I react.”
So while they have their differences, fights are momentary and unintentional. Arguments are meant to better a number. “We make sure we put out a good song,” says Loy.
“You can’t be selfish and say your ideas are the best. The song is what resolves the differences – sometimes you realise what you were doing is wrong, and I have a gut feel reaction to a melody that’ll work!” winks Ehsaan.
Shankar, Ehsan and Loy believe that making music is a beautiful process: their ideas just flow into one another. “We all tap into each other’s energies,” says Loy.
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From HT Brunch, April 7, 2019
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