Welcome to the Gaana Music Festival blog! As we count down to the largest Indian music festival in North America, you can expect exclusive content here – from interviews to behind the scenes, from observations to insider tips.
Salaam and Namaste to all you Bollywood music fans out there. What we have lined up for you today is an interview with one of the biggest composer duos from this millennium. With loads of hits and millions of views for songs that have been staples at parties across the country (and beyond!), they need no introduction, so let’s jump right into it: The Gaana Music Festival interview with Vishal Dadlani & Shekhar Ravjiani : Together known as Vishal & Shekhar! Now, without further ado (or should we say, bahane?)…
GMF: You’ve composed the soundtrack for a technically songless film with ‘Fan’. But that soundtrack stood out for its main song “Jabra Fan” which you guys recreated in 11 different languages. Usually a Hindi film song gets done in another language only when the film is dubbed/re-made in another language. Here you guys chose to do it yourselves in 11 of them, including Sinhalese and Arabic. What was the thought behind it? How did you choose the languages and the singers for each?
V&S: Different films come with different challenges. But most of the time we like to challenge ourselves! It was actually a lot of fun recording the track in 11 different languages. The same piece of music can sound so unique when sung in a different language and that’s a whole other kind of magic. We were blessed to find the most perfectly suited voices for the track and all we wanted was for people from every part of the world to feel like the song was made just for them.
GMF: It wouldn’t be wrong to say that you guys are kind of also the hip-hop pioneers of Bollywood music. You led the way with Bluffmaster‘s Right Here Right Now. That song is still, as the kids say, a bop! So why did you choose to create a hip hop rap track way back in 2005? And to top it all, you got Abhishek Bachchan to sing it! Was it a gamble? Or were you sure of this song becoming the hit that it turned out to be?
V&S: We have always wanted to bring something new to the table with every soundtrack we work on. Bluffmaster was no different. It is one of our favourites too and still has a special place in our concerts even after so many years. At that time, taking the plunge and doing a hip hop track was like walking a tightrope, but we got safely to the other side and it also reinforced our belief in our listeners and their ability to embrace new sounds and learn to love them. Abhishek singing it was a fun idea that clicked wonderfully too.
GMF: Popular french electronic music duo Daft Punk say that when it comes to creating music, they “become two-halves of one solid combination. One focuses on the tech and the other on critically analyzing everything we do. There’s balance there – completeness between us.” What’s the creative process for the two of you? What’s the Vishal & Shekhar balance like?
V&S: We’re two very different individuals with our own different strengths but we share a common passion for creating music. Over the years we have learnt how to bring the best out of each other. Disagreements make the music more interesting and contradictory ideas come together to create something that has never been heard before. It’s a creative process that’s evolved over the years and continues to even today. As long as we’re making great music, we know we are doing something right.
GMF: International musicians seem to follow a “less is more” philosophy and release new music accordingly. While in Bollywood it seems to be the other way round. Do you feel that in the Indian film industry you guys have to create more and release more to stay successful and relevant?
V&S: India is a world in itself. With so many different sub cultures and tastes to cater to, it always feels like you need to do more. The truth however is that great music just happens. So whether you do 10 films or 2, if you hit the right note, it stays for eternity. Never try too hard, is our motto. Just create from the heart and see what happens.
GMF: There are a bunch of composers out there who have a very distinct sound… You hear a song and you can instantly identify whose it is. Is there a distinctive Vishal & Shekhar sound according to you? And is there any one musical element/artist/theme/quirk that all your soundtracks must have?
V&S: Our variety is our distinct sound. We take pride in our production values. Our strength lies in creating music that disrupts but also delights. We love pushing the people we collaborate with for films to take the road less trodden. Sometimes it works and the whole team is pleasantly surprised. At the end of the day, if you play it safe, you aren’t playing at all.
Catch Vishal & Shekhar perform with a magnificent music & comedy line-up at Gaana Music Festival: June 8th (New Jersey) and June 9th (California).