Do you know that Pritam is the composer who has given the maximum number of new voices to the industry? And that he grooms new composers too? Or that he wants to retire?
Here’s what Pritam told me in an exclusive chat.
You seem to be a very confident person. Creating competition for yourself with platforms like JAM8.
Competition ka koyi chakkar hi nahin. In 2014 and in 2017, I took one-year breaks. I can’t say no, all filmmakers are my friends. So the best thing was to say, ‘I’m on a break, I’m not going to do anything’. Whatever was coming my way, I said, ‘No, I need a break.’ I was doing shows. I have a soft nature, I can’t say, ‘I’m doing his film, I’m not doing yours.’ I build a friendship with filmmakers, I can’t say no to them.
If I had any insecurity, I shouldn’t have taken those breaks, na?
I’m just waiting. My next break will be retirement.
I don’t believe this, Pritam. Karoge kya?
I’ll do music. But not commercial music. It’s a responsibility. When you sign a commercial film, it’s a responsibility that you have to give music that’s liked by everybody.
A lot of times the artiste in you cries out…A lot of times you have to compromise. You know, I haven’t been able to do a Bengali film. I want to do a Bengali film. I want to do some solo albums, I have some ideas. Big budget, box office, what’s happening, I don’t want anymore of it.
Coming back to your question, I am very happy with composers coming out of JAM8. Composition is a very personal thing, you can’t help anybody in composition. All these JAM8 boys, they’re doing series, films. All I can guide them with is how to design a song, hook kaise aana chahiye. I share with them my 20-year experience. Ismein insecure hona ka baat hi nahin hai because there’s so much work in the market and you only do your kind of work. Everybody’s co-existing and aise nahin ki…I leave so many films, in the sense I am unable to do so many films because of lack of time. So it’s good. Jitne achche log market mein, utna achcha hai.
You’ve also given the maximum new voices to the industry.
Name the singers. Mostly their first song or their breakthrough song will be with me. Mika’s first hit number in Bollywood, ‘Mauja hi mauja’. Papon. Neha Kakkar. Arijit obviously used to work here with me. He was my assistant basically, used to do everything, used to do vocals. Every scratch song. If you hear ‘Balam pichkari’, behind Vishal Dadlani, you can hear Arijit sing in the chorus. ‘Teri malmal ki kurti gulabi’…’toh’. The ‘toh’ is Arijit. I’m very happy that people who’ve assisted me have also done very well. Like Sachin Jigar was also with me. Like everybody knew Mohit Chauhan, he had sung a song in Rang De Basanti. But his breakthrough song was with me like ‘Tumse hi’ (Jab We Met). I like new voices because a voice is the lead instrument in a song. If you want to get freshness in a commercial song, you can’t go beyond a certain formula otherwise people won’t understand it. It’s commercial music not music where you can break the structure. You have to think that not only people in Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi will listen to it but it will also go into villages and everywhere. You have to keep a pan-India taste in mind. So the only thing that can provide freshness are new voices.
So I would work at the same time with an Amit Kumar who you haven’t heard for a very long time and with a Mika, Mohit Chauhan or KK. I didn’t give KK a break but worked a lot with him. Neeraj Shridhar for example was very popular in the indie circuit but in the film circuit…Even Vishal’s breakthrough song was with me…Dhoom.
How did you think of taking Vishal from another musical team like Vishal-Shekhar?
I have done that a lot. I have made Anand Raj Anand sing ‘Billo Rani’ (Dhan Dhana Dhan: Goal), he was a competitive music director at that time. I’d heard a song by Anand Raj Anand and I thought it was interesting/different. He sounded like a different Daler Mehndi. Anand Raj Anand was shocked that I called him to sing.
Our earlier music directors were very insecure, giving gaalis to each other. When I was growing up, I used to wonder, ye kya hai, why are they abusing each other? That way I’m very lucky that when I started in the 2000s, it was a very secure generation. Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin-Lalit, Anu Malik were going away, AR Rahman had started a long time back (he was something else). Shankar-Ehsan-Loy started, then Vishal-Shekhar, then me. Sajid-Wajid also. It’s a very secure generation. There was no problem to call Shankar to sing a song or to call Vishal to sing a song. Two big songs of ‘Yeh Jawani…’ were sung by Vishal, ‘Balam pichkari’ and ‘Ghagra’. If I could make Anand Raj Anand sing, making Vishal sing was very easy (laughs). Anand Raj Anand was a beautiful experience. First toh he was shocked. Aake jo gaaya…, we dubbed it on the 1st floor at Empire Studio. I was saying, Anandji sing it like this and…he sang it really fast.. And to give takkar to Richa Sharma. Richa Sharma is some other level singer.
Pritam can talk about music all day long for he loves, lives and breathes music. So, one thing’s for sure. Whatever he decides, he’ll never retire from music.