Though still pretty new to the world of Hindi film music, Gourov Dasgupta certainly has made his mark, and you have heard his beats on the soundtracks for Dus Kahaniyaan and Hide & Seek. He is a rocker guy at heart, but as a composer he is a man of many faces and that really shows through in his latest OST Knock Out. I caught up with Gourov and we had a killer time talking tunes, Knock Out, Mr. Sanjay Dutt and more. Check it out!
How did the music of Knock Out come about?
I owe everything to Apoorva Lakhia. My last film, Hide & Seek was also with him. Apu is debuting in Knock Out in a small role. The producer of this film is a friend of his, Mr. Sohail Maklai. So, Apu recommended me – he has always stood by me.
So, when you go to meet a producer what happens in those first meetings?
The production house has been fabulous – it is called AAP Entertainment. It is a corporate production house and they have been amazing to work with. This is their first film. This has been one of the best experiences work wise. My first meeting nothing really happened, because they were meeting with a lot of music directors. But Apu really pushed, he really wanted these producers to really hear my stuff before taking a call on anything. They heard some of my stuff, they kind of liked it but nothing was finalised until about a month went by and a lot of music sittings. After that they finally made the call that they would use my songs! It was quite tough actually… quite tough. They came to like some songs, which I already had in the bank, so they wanted to use those. Then stuff like ‘Jab Jab Dil Mile’, they needed a complete item song, fast preppy club number. Even ‘Knock Out’, the title track, I think I actually made six or seven different versions for the title track.
I love the title track! I love the layers; you have that rock and then the cool violins. Give us some insight on composing the song.
It is mostly electronica with a lot of heavy guitars on it. It’s got that whole electro/rock/new metal kind of vibe to it with long guitar solos. It was produced very well. Mr. Sanjay Dutt really loved this one. He is a complete rock star! Initially, the song did not have any guitar solos, but then he met me. He came down to the studio and we jammed. I am a guitar player at heart and after we jammed he insisted I play a lot of the guitar solos, which was amazing. He knows more music than I do, honestly. That is how the title track came to be. Then there is you know the video – he is playing the guitar and he is a full on rock star in that as well.
Yeah, that song promo is also killer.
That happened because of Mr. Dutt as well. He said, I want Gourov and Roshan, (Roshan works with me as producer). I want both of them in the video – all 3 of us should be playing the guitar. It is all because of him. I don’t know what the video would have been otherwise. The full version has a lot of people doing a lot of mad things. Sanjay Dutt, when he plays air guitar, he looks like he is really playing an instrument, because he is so passionate about it. He is a full on rock star – full tattooed metal guitar rock star.
Another thing about the title track is that Vishal sang it – Vishal Dadlani from Vishal Shekhar. It was a great thing that he sang it for me. I have known Vishal for a long time and I know him more because of Pentagram, which is his band. I used to be in my band and we used to do gigs together. He is very important to the heart and soul of Rock in India. It was very difficult to get Vishal on board initially, but because of our whole rock and roll connection he came on board. I didn’t want to use anyone else but Vishal for that song.
‘Khushnuma’ with Krishna is probably my favorite song. Tell us about recording that song.
It was excellent recording with him. Krishna is one of my old friends he is an excellent singer. In my last film Hide & Seek, I had done ‘Kaise Jiyu’, which Krishna sang. That is my favorite song on the Hide & Seek album. On this album ‘Khushnuma’ is my favorite song. There is another version with Rahat as well; his is more the lounge version of the song.
There were so many interesting instruments that you used on that track.
Yeah, ‘Khushnuma’ was a lot of Indian instruments. Roshan, who is my producer and engineer, is the best. He is the one who produced the song, arranged all the music and he has done a fab job. We have used a lot of Indian instruments like Sarangi that is such a beautiful, sad instrument; it can actually make you cry. Then there is another instrument called Oud, which is a string instrument. There are some nice live string sections, which we have used. It has turned out very nice; it has a nice flowy melancholic feel to it.
It actually made me tear up when I was listening to it.
This song has had a funny reaction to a lot of people. A lot of people have felt very sad and a lot of people have felt very happy. People ask me is it a happy song or is it a sad song. But it is a basic emotion and that is cool that it moves people.
You also have Sunidhi Chauhan on the album.
Yes, Sunidhi for me is the best woman singer in the industry. She is fabulous. In ‘Jab Jab Dil Mile’, she completely rocked it. You know my first film Dus Kahaniyaan; we did a song called ‘Jaaniya’, which is still a big hit, she sung that. So, I have known her since the very start of my career. She has always been there for me.
This album really has all the best singers! Actually that is what I am very happy about that we have all the best singers to be part of this album. This is my most commercial album to date, you know that right?
I was just going to say… this one is more Bolly commercial than Hide & Seek, how did you get yourself into the mindset to write more in this style?
I am a man of many faces and with age and time in this industry, you know. For me, it is important that I have my own sound and I try to put a little bit of it in all my films. I do that, like with something like ‘Knock Out’, it has that more rock flavor or like ‘Khushnuma’. But like I said I like to be a man of many faces, so that is cool… yeah!
How do you think you have grown as a composer?
I am still growing. I was a guitar player when I first started; I used to only listen to guitar solos in the song, you know. I only used to listen to bands that had great guitar solos, but there comes a time when you start listening to the song and a time when the guitar solo doesn’t really matter because the guitar just becomes an extension of it, it becomes a part of it. The guitar is just part of me, that is not me. I started looking at things more that way. See the music I do and everything I listen to and the stuff I like to make – those are just small parts of me. I would like to consider myself to be bigger than all of that. That is the only way I can look at it from a work prescriptive. I love jazz, I play a lot of jazz, I love heavy metal to Sufi stuff to this Bollywood stuff. So, I am becoming a man of many faces. If I do a solo album I think I am going to call it Man of Many Faces.
What do you hope people will love about this set of songs?
Because most of the people have heard my rock stuff and they feel I am this, you know, bad boy rock’n’roll guy, I have really tried with this album to make something different. I have done a lot of commercial stuff before but with this it is more Bollywood commercial and the whole soundtrack has different moods. There is so much more that meets the eye basically. I am very happy about it!
Are you proud?
Yes, always. You know… Gourov means pride!
What have you noticed has changed in music over the last year or so?
There has been change in good ways and in bad ways… there are always two sides to the coin. A lot of new talent, a lot of new people are getting into this field. That old, old clich