How was the music created for 'Taxi No. 9211'? Did the situation come first or the songs?
The situation. We started composing songs after the movie was 95% shot. There is only one song that was shot after we composed music for it and that was 'Ek Nazar', the one which is picturised on John Abraham and Sameera Reddy. The album has a range of songs. There are light songs, there are heavy songs and then there is 'Aazmaale', which I believe has come out truly well with great lyrics.
How about 'Meter Down'? Even that has Nana and John having fun. Is it a situational or a theme track?
Hmmm...well, I won't call it as a theme track. In fact it is an item song that is there for promotional purpose. Don't even go by the characters that Nana and John enact in the song as they have completely different roles in the movie. Here the song is quite groovy and we had a blast composing it. We were also on the sets when the song was being shot and the final result has been very impressive.
The concept seems to be pretty unique.
True, the concept is quite good. It was never meant to be fluffy but takes a glimpse into the life in Mumbai. See, everything over here in Mumbai 'costs' something. Whether someone wants to breathe, sleep or do anything else, it costs something at the least. It may not always be money but you may still end up paying for it. The song has been treated in a conversational mode and I am very proud to be associated with it.
Inspite of such a philosophical theme, the song never comes with serious undertones. Instead it has a feel good effect, isn't it so?
Yeah, that was the intent! The music had to be kept interesting. Also, both Shekhar and me like to have fun and you would see us in a jovial mood. The other day we went to a radio station for a FM program and the RJ there was surprised to see us grooving along. See, one needs to enjoy your music. We come from an advertisement background and had a number of advertising assignments before we started composing for movies. Hence, we have a fair understanding of what needs to go in.
How do you work along with a movie director while composing for a film?
We are a no-frills composer duo. When we have to demonstrate a particular tune, we don't do it with a grand arrangement but simply play it on a guitar or a piano. If the director likes the tune, it's good else we play on something else. There could be so may tunes that a musician may make but a film director may not like it and in such a case one needs to be open to the director's point of view. In nutshell every piece should fit in well. The process as well as the situation should all be right. Our job is to keep going through the process multiple times till the director is satisfied because I strongly believe that the success and the failure of a film truly lies with the film director. So he should get all the appreciation if the film is a success and all the blame if it is not!
If we look at your record in the past, you are seen most with a young (and a fixed) set of film makers you are working with. Case in point with Sanjay Gupta, Sujoy Ghosh, Rohan Sippy etc. etc.
Hmm, well we have been working with others too but then overall we are lucky to be working with a set of people who are looking for something unusual, something unexpected. We are absolutely thrilled when someone comes and tell us that we want the kind of music that would put an edge for the movie. That's why I believe that current times are the best to create music. Look at the kind of varied opportunities we got last year. We had dance music in 'Dus', rock ballads in 'Home Delivery' and some real hip-hop and jazzy stuff for 'Bluffmaster'.
Don't you mind being guest composers in some recent movies even after you have established yourselves? Both in 'Zinda' and 'Bluffmaster', you just had a song or two to compose with the majority of tracks by others.
In case of 'Bluffmaster', there was just one O.S.T. (Original sound track) that was composed for the movie and it was done by us. Others were also taken from already recorded songs by composers like Trick baby etc. Moreover Rohan [Rohan Sippy - director of Bluffmaster] is a buddy. In case of 'Zinda', there were no issues that 'Strings' came up with some songs. In fact they recorded the songs at my studio only. Specifically for the movie 'Zinda', I am happy that a film like that is being made today. It is a damn good film and it is nice to see that everyone is so involved, excited and positive about a film.
What's up in terms of your upcoming movies? Anything exciting?
Watch out for an intense 'qawalli' in 'Tathastu' [starring Sanjay Dutt, directed by Anubhav Sinha]! It is sung by a man called Humsar Hayat. He is a chief qawall at Nizamuddin mosque, New Delhi. It's a traditional composition that is completely different from what you have heard in the past from Vishal-Shekhar. It has some really gorgeous lyrics by Panchi.
How did you come across this man?
One of our friends had his collection in a CD and we happened to hear it. Even Anubhav was there when we heard it and it was decided there and then that this guy had to be there in film's music. From here started a long process of searching him but luckily we traced him!
At one point of time you were also supposed to work on 'Fool and Final'. What happened to that?
We were never supposed to be working on 'Fool and Final'. I have no idea how this talk circulated and later we got to know that Pritam has been roped in for the film. What I hear about the music, Pritam has come up with some real mind-blowing tunes for the film.
Any other films in the pipeline?
There is 'Honeymoon Travels', Anubhav Sinha's 'Cash', Sujoy Ghosh's next and Siddharth Anand's next (again with Yash Raj Films)!