In this season of To Catch a Star, CNN-IBN Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand will put the spotlight on the best and the brightest stars of Hindi film music - the men and women who make us dance to their tunes, quite literally.
The first in the series is the most popular music composer duo in the Indian music industry. Consistent in their music is a sense of fun that seems ingrained in their songs. They've made Shah Rukh Khan take his shirt off in a hit number and have had Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan sing for them. Few others can make such claims. Musical wonderkids, Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani - popularly known as Vishal-Shekhar – in a candid chat with Masand.
Rajeev Masand: You guys had the highest selling soundtrack in Om Shanti Om. In a year that had some very good soundtracks like Guru, Saawariya, Jab We Met, Metro - would you also say that yours was also the best soundtrack of 2007?
Vishal: We liked a lot of music. I don't think you rate music like that. You listen to it. It's fun. Om Shanti Om is closest to us but there were a lot of other sountracks as well. It's been a really good year for music.
Rajeev Masand: What was your favourite soundtrack of 2007?
Vishal, Shekhar:: (together) Om Shanti Om is No. 1, anytime.
Vishal: Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was a great soundtrack, Jab We Met was great. There's a slew of them.
Rajeev Masand: You had another big hit last year and that was the soundtrack of Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. A small film but the Sajna Di Vaari Vaari was one of the most entertaining songs of the year. It was also a whole new, fresh take on 'the drunken song'.
Vishal: The song actually came from Reema (Sen). It was an idea she had. It's a really sexist song if you think about it. It's about a doormat and shows a man singing to a woman. So it's flipped on its head. The concept is that he is saying he'll do anything for her. That's it. It was a fun song and we had a great time doing it. The baseline that Shekhar: came up with really drives the song.
Shekhar:: Kay Kay (Menon, the actor), specially was great in the dance moves.
Rajeev Masand: It was a song where all elements - the music, the performance on screen, the choreography - came together isn't it?
Vishal: The lack of bulls**t, I'll say. It's just a guy who's high and a lot of people having fun. It's just the natural energy of it.
Shekhar:: I think when a song is made and if you have fun making it and shooting it, people will have fun looking at it.
Rajeev Masand: Do you guys watch every film that you compose music for?
Vishal: Are you referring to films in specific, Rajiv? (laughs)
Rajeev Masand: Yes, I am referring to two films in specific - Cash and Tara Rum Pum.
Vishal: See, Tara Rum Pum we saw and loved. I personally loved it. We missed Cash because we were not in town for the premiere and then you guys reviewed it so badly that it was scary. (laughs)
Rajeev Masand: On a different note, sometimes good music goes unnoticed because the films don't do well.
Shekhar: It always happens like that. Once the music comes out and the film releases and doesn't do well, the music (popularity) falls.
Rajeev Masand: What were the albums whose failure disappointed you?
Vishal: The title track of Ek Ajnabee got lost, for example. It was a great track, lots of fun.
Shekhar: The soundtracks of Shabd and Home Delivery too.
Rajeev Masand: Then there's a reverse too. When a really good song uplifts a really bad film.
Vishal: Again, are you referring to films in specific, Rajiv? (laughs)
Rajeev Masand: Dus was one. The film's success was attributed to its title track Dus Bahane.
Vishal: No. The film's success was attributed to - as far as we are concerned - to Abhishek (Bachchan). It was the time when Abhishek had just become Abhishek that he is with Dhoom and people wanted to see him dance and sing.
Rajeev Masand: Vishal, in 2007 you had a whole bunch of songs you sang for other composers. You did Jame Raho in Taare Zameen Par, Kiss of Love in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom - both for Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy. Previously too you did the title song of Dhoom with Pritam. These guys are your rivals, aren't they?
Vishal: It's music, man. We are just having fun. Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy have been great inspiration for us. When you are learning the business, you learn it from other people. So we regularly call them for advice. Shankar has sung for us, Ehsaan has played guitar for us. We are friends, we hang out. It's not the 80s and the 90s.
Rajeev Masand: Where's all that legendary cut-throat competition?
Shekhar: We are friends and there's no rivalry as such. Everyone has enough work, everyone's doing a good job, everyone is appreciating each other's work and that's the most important thing in this business.
Rajeev Masand: But aren't you all vying for the same projects, same films?
Shekhar:: No, there's nothing like that. There's no rivalry, only one aim: let's do good music and change the scene of the music industry.
Rajeev Masand: Few composers have the opportunity - like you guys did with Jhankar Beats - to pay tribute to one of your idols R D Burman. Who are the other influences?
Shekhar:: Khayyam sahab, Kalyanji-Anandji Bhai, Pancham Da - the biggest inspiration.
Vishal: Jatin-Lalit have been an inspiration. Everyone who puts out music is an inspiration. And this is just India we are talking about. Everyone including the Police and my band The Pentagram have been an inspiration. Like I said, music is something you learn from everyone.
Rajeev Masand: There's a little bit of every experience in every music?
Vishal, Shekhar: (together): Absolutely.
Shekhar:: Rehman is a big inspiration for us. Every soundtrack he does is new, fresh, different.
Vishal: Until Rehman came along, the music scene was quite cheesy. He changed the sound and made it okay. He made Hindi film music cool again.
Rapid Fire Round
Rajeev Masand: The most under-rated album of 2007.
Vishal: Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd.
Rajeev Masand: The one singer who should retire instantly
Vishal: Oh no, I am not even going there. Thank you (laughs)
Rajeev Masand: The one album of 2007 you wish you had composed.
Shekhar:: Jab We Met
Rajeev Masand: The one composer from yesteryears whose career you would like to have.
Shekhar: Pancham Da
Rajeev Masand: The one song of yours the picturisation of which you were embarrassed by.
Vishal: There are a lot of those. Suno Na in Jhankar Beats. The song starts and ends with the first three notes. And though it shows up later, it shocked me first.
Rajeev Masand: The one song of yours you didn't expect would turn out to be a huge hit.
Vishal: Deewangi. Farah and I had a chat about it and I said yes, it will be a hit but I didn't realise it will be this big a hit. She saw it before she did it. She saw all the stars together and knew how she wanted it.
Rajeev Masand: The one rival whose albums you always buy just to have a good laugh.
Shekhar:: Oh no! (laughs). We don't buy stuff.
Vishal: If it's painful, it's painful. It's not funny. We buy albums to listen to them and enjoy.
Rajeev Masand: The one singer who always refused to sing for you.
Vishal: No. There hasn't been anyone like this. There's a misconception about the business. Everyone's really cool. This is a fact. We are all musicians.
Rajeev Masand: The one song you sing to your wives when you are trying to be romantic.
Vishal: I wrote Wo Pehli Baar (Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi) for my wife. Ajab Si is written for her.
Shekhar:: Dil Se Mere Door Na Jaana. I sang and composed it for Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi.
Rajeev Masand: Much of popular entertainment today is derived from these reality shows on TV.
Vishal: Morbid, isn't it?
Rajeev Masand: Scary, actually. Until a couple of years ago, everyone wanted to grow up to be a movie actor. Today, it seems everyone wants to be a singer. Where do you thing this sudden ambition to become a singer comes from?
Vishal: From watching Sonu Nigam. He is an inspiration to a lot of people. A lot of times singers were behind the screens. It's when they take the limelight really does inspire a million people to want to be singers. Like Shaan, KK are all guys who are now known for their faces as much as their talent. .
Rajeev Masand: You have had a couple of actors sing for you. You've had Sanjay Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan.
Vishal: Mr B (Amitabh Bachchan) just sang for us and this is a song from Aladdin. When you hear it you won't believe it's Mr Bachchan. He's the coolest.
Rajeev Masand: Were you guys intimidated initially?
Vishal: Not intimidated. We were like, 'Dude! Mr Bachchan!'. The first time we met was on Ek Ajnabee. He's the guy who asked us to get on to the project. So when were heading towards the sets, Shekhar and I were having this conversation in the car: Do you realise every musc director in the last 35 years would have done this first meeting with Mr Bachchan at some time. And everyone must have felt the same. So that kind of calmed us down. He is a really cool guy, puts you at ease immediately. First thing he said was, "Hey, mere bete ke liye gaane banaaoge, kya? Mere liye bhi banao accha waala koi (Will you compose for my son? Compose a great one for me as well)
Rajeev Masand: Thank you so much for joining us, Vishal-Shekhar. Wishing you loads of success in 2008 and we’ll keep a watch on all your projects.
Vishal, Shekhar: Thanks.