Hindi film music is changing, not only in how it is being used in the films, but also in who is sitting in the music director’s chair, with a new set of composers making their own new styles and sounds. For the music of Hide & Seek, first time producer and well known director Apoorva Lakhia brought in two relatively new music directors to lay down the tracks for the film. The man behind the dance groove ‘Friday Night’ is Chirantan Bhatt and with his lone track on the album he certainly captured the mood of the scene it is intended for perfectly. We got the chance to talk with Chirantan about the song, writing music and working in Bollywood. Check it out!
How did you get into the Hindi film industry?
I had signed a film earlier, Allah Ke Banday, which is still not released yet. I think it should come out this year. Anyway, I was doing a film called EMI with this production house called Popcorn Motion Pictures. Apoorva Lakhia was doing a film for the same production house. Suniel Shetty suggested my name to Apoorva, because Apoorva was looking for a specific kind of song. We met, he gave me a brief and I had to make kind of a rock track for him. He loved it so, I ended up doing two songs in Mission Istanbul and Mission actually ended up to me my first release.
Since you worked with Apoorva on Mission Istanbul is that how you became a part of Hide & Seek ?
Yes, he really liked the song I did called ‘Nobody Like You’ and he wanted something like that for Hide & Seek . A track that is basically up-tempo and is like friends hanging out and singing a song, something that is peppy and also disco friendly. So, I made this song ‘Friday Night’.
What sort of brief were you given?
He just felt he needed a song that was a bunch of friends singing and it could be anything. There was no direction, there were no specific kind of lyrics or anything. He just said, do what the hell you want to do. Apu had given me a reference to a Bollywood song and said do something along the lines of that song. Something like friends dancing in a club and singing, but what I ended up doing was something really, really different and completely bizarre. So, when I actually called him over to listen to the track I had doubts. When he first heard it, he was like, dude this was nothing like what I expected, but it is really nice, I like it. So, I got the go ahead from him.
How do you compose a song?
For me, I like a brief, because Bollywood is music in films, you know? I have to know at which point in the film the song is coming in, so I know the mood. I need the brief behind the lyrics and what the song should convey. Once I know that, I pick up my guitar and start strumming and try and come up with a melody, which suits that mood. I don’t have lyrics; I generally get lyrics written after my composition. I just sing some rough words here and there to get my melody in place. Once I have that, I get that approved and then I have lyrics written. A lot of times what happens though, is that these melodies keep coming to you. Like if you are on vacation or wherever. So, I just keep putting them down. When I start a new song I actually go back and listen to all the songs that I had done, just to see if any one fits that mood or if it will work in the film. Sometimes that does happen – you pitch it, you get the lyrics written, and then done!
What are your influences musically?
My interest in music is really varied. I don’t listen too much of Bollywood actually (laughs), which I have started listening to now, since I need to see were I stand. What is the sound that is going on? Otherwise, I listen to a lot of folk music from all over the world, a lot of pop music, a lot of hip hop, electronica, a lot of artists like Sting and Seal – everything. It is nothing specific. I just keep collecting music from friends or you know with the iTunes store you can pretty much get all kinds of music. I listen to pretty much everything.
It seems that now in Bollywood and well everywhere, composers are taking influences from all over and making their own new sound. Do you see that happening?
Yes, it is. See the old gives way to the new. You had the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s and then you have the Bollywood music of now, which is completely different. I wouldn’t say it is very different in terms of melody, you still have a lot of melodic songs. But now the internet is there, satellite television is there and everybody is exposed to music and what is happening in the music world. We, as people working in the industry, need to incorporate those elements and make our sound, I would say, more edible for the kids right now. At one point they are listening to say 50 Cent and then they want to listen to a Hindi track, so we need to have songs that will musically get them interested.
There are also no lip synch songs in the film, what do you think of this newest trend?
I think it is a good thing because that way the story can progress. Otherwise, like in the older films, you see that the story actually stops and there is a song and dance around the trees, in the rain and it is not realistic right?
Yeah, yeah but I love it. (laughs)
Yeah, it is classic (laughs). However, now you can have a song just playing in the background, that is just giving the mood to the scene, but then the story is still progressing. Plus, you can experiment much more because then it becomes like you are doing a background score. You will find situations, which are not very suited for a song like specifically for an album, but there is a situation in which you can make a song that it will work for the film. That gives you scope to experiment.
Is it hard to break into the Hindi film music industry?
I think it is getting easier and easier. People now understand that all they need is a good song – it does not matter who is giving it to them. They are looking for fresh voices all the time; they are looking for newer and fresher sounds. If there were somebody who has a fresh song and if it has potential than I don’t think it would be difficult to find a taker in Bollywood. It is quite easy, I would say, now. Earlier what would happen is people would just stick to the four or five music directors that were doing the work.
What are you working on now after Hide & Seek ?
After Hide & Seek I have movie, which is releasing on 19th of March called Shaapit, which means “the cursed”. It is a horror flick, but it is a very Bollywood style horror flick with all the romance and the songs and everything (laughs). That is directed by Vikram Bhatt, who is known for these horror flicks and has some success with that.
Listening to ‘Friday Night’ and talking with Chirantan, you can see he has does have a fresh take on music and it will be cool to see what he comes up with next! We know we will be waiting and watching! To see his track come to life be sure and see Hide & Seek when it opens in theaters on February 19th!