‘My sis­ter Su­lak­shana strug­gled all her life’

Lalit Pandit says am­ple modes of en­ter­tain­ment im­plies there’s enough work for singers to­day, un­like in the past; talks of recre­at­ing a clas­sic

Mid Day - - Music - SO­NIA LULLA so­[email protected]

HOW do you ap­proach a num­ber as cel­e­brated as Hum Honge Kaamyaab (for I Am Banni) when you need to re­hash it? Yes, the orig­i­nal is a cult song with a tune that can never be for­got­ten. I was told to re­tain the lyrics, and per­haps add new ones. The con­cept of women’s ed­u­ca­tion that the film banks on is an im­por­tant one. I knew that while the tune had to be ap­peal­ing, it was also cru­cial that the song be mean­ing­ful and im­pact­ful.

I got the lyrics right, and made cer­tain that they were in­spir­ing enough for lis­ten­ers. Then, I made the com­po­si­tion. It took two to three ver­sions for me to zero in on one I liked.

Was it your de­ci­sion to rope in sev­eral artistes, in­clud­ing Kanika Kapoor, Am­ruta Fad­navis, Akriti Kakkar and Shaan, for it?

Ini­tially, I wanted only young fe­male singers for it. Do­ing so would suit the film’s theme, which is about a girl hop­ing to con­tinue to study. I had a good lineup of young singers who brought an in­her­ent en­ergy to the song. While the mak­ers liked it, they said we should have an an­tara with a few male singers

so that we could de­pict a male voice that sup­ports the women. The idea was to say that we [the men] are with you [women]. That’s when Shaan and I took to the mic. The track is mod­ern, and soul­ful.

Is the process of com­pos­ing for sev­eral renowned singers more de­mand­ing?

It is. I had to not only adopt the sit­u­a­tion of the song, but also pay at­ten­tion to the artistes who would be singing it. I had to think of their range. I don’t rope in a singer whose range doesn’t match the re­quire­ment of the song. That will just sound wrong. So, apart from plan­ning the com­po­si­tion in de­tail, I also con­ducted am­ple re­hearsals to see which part suited which singers. For in­stance, Kanika [Kapoor] found it hard to sing the high notes of the hook line. So, I gave her the lines with low range. That was also the case with Am­ruta [Fad­navis] who could ren­der the low keys well. Then we have singers like Prat­i­bha [Baghel] and Priyani Vani, who could sing high notes beau­ti­fully. I didn’t want any­one to ap­proach this song in a hin­dered man­ner. It’s in­spi­ra­tional, after all, so had to be ren­dered pow­er­fully. Hence choos­ing the right singers for the parts was es­sen­tial.

Did you have any ref­er­ences in mind while pen­ning it?

I had Malala Yousafzai on my mind. Hers is a touch­ing and shock­ing story. Peo­ple there [Pak­istan] are not as ed­u­cated [as in other places], and be­lieve in a re­li­gion that says women are not al­lowed to show their face or hands. Mu­sic is not al­lowed and stud­ies are not per­mit­ted. [The mind­set] is back­ward. And that will change only when women will be ed­u­cated.

What do you think are the most promis­ing as­pects of the mu­sic in­dus­try to­day?

There is im­mense tal­ent. As re­al­ity show judges, when we are ex­posed to young singers, we see amaz­ing artistes from Pune, Indore, and other cities. Also, now ev­ery­one has some­thing to do be­cause the modes of en­ter­tain­ment have in­creased. They are not stuck, since there is TV, web shows and ads [to work for]. So, all the singers have work. My sis­ter, Su­lak­shana Pandit, strug­gled all her life. Now, with more av­enues ev­ery­one has enough work. Also, peo­ple are cel­e­brat­ing new voices.

Is there a draw­back?

I find that when they per­form in re­al­ity shows, and ex­pe­ri­enced com­posers like us are told to praise them, we go all out, of­ten telling them they sang a par­tic­u­lar song bet­ter than the orig­i­nal. The im­pres­sion­able mind of the singer is af­fected. They be­lieve they don’t need to learn any­more. Mu­sic is some­thing you should learn all your life. That’s miss­ing. They come in without im­prov­ing their range, like we ini­tially spoke about. Also, times have changed. Ev­ery­thing is led by tech­nol­ogy to­day. The con­tri­bu­tion of live mu­si­cians added a lot of soul to songs that were recorded ear­lier. Even if there was a mis­take or two in a song, peo­ple would still con­sider it ready. We are de­vi­at­ing from that. Ev­ery­thing is so tight to­day that there’s no scope for er­ror. Be­fore, an artiste’s mu­sic would also be his/ her re­ac­tion to the song that was be­ing played. Now, no one hears the song. There are no nu­ances or ex­pres­sions. I took 40 days to make Munni Bad­nam; that’s un­heard of for me. But, it earned its place.

‘In the past, if there was a mis­take in a song, peo­ple would still con­sider it ready. To­day, there’s no scope for er­ror’

Su­lak­shana Pandit

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