Sep 28 2015

HR Interview: Round Table Music Talk

Published by at 5:03 pm under HR Interviews

Thanks to Box Office India, Himeshji discusses the state of the music industry along side lyricist Sameerji, half of Vishal-Shekhar Shekhar Ravjiani, singer Divya Kumaar, lyricist Kumaar and singer Kanika Kapoor.


Shekhar Ravjiani (SR): Sameer sir, you are the senior-most on this panel, so let’s start it with you and ask you about the state of our music industry today.

Sameer: I think we have changed over time. The kind of music people like, it changes every 10 years. My opinion is to wait and watch. Change has been constant since 1989…

SR: (Cuts in) Change has been taking place every decade.

Sameer: But we will know more about this change only 5-10 years down the line. This period is very crucial. Whenever we compose or write, there is a discussion on whether the song will be liked by today’s audience. It’s a very thin line, so we are never really sure while writing and composing today. There was a time when we were 100 per cent sure about our songs. That’s my opinion about today’s music scenario in our industry.

SR: Himesh, you have had back-to-back hits, non-stop, since you started. What has changed when you meet directors now?

Himesh Reshammiya (HR): I don’t think about change. I have always tried doing something new every year. That’s how I have survived and that’s the way my music has grown. So, for me, it’s a very satisfying period in terms of what I have achieved. I see no reason to complain because there is a huge difference in the branding a music director or lyricist used to get in the ‘90s versus today, where we are getting branding almost on par with film stars. There are branded TV shows, commercials, branded songs or videos and there is that much more recall value. So I think this is a time when composers and lyricists are getting plenty of recognition. The only difference is that I have done about 150 films up till now, which I don’t think a new composer will be able to achieve. Also, it will not be possible to do 650 songs during his career because there are so many people right now. That’s the only change – a huge difference in the number of films that a composer or a singer can do at this point in time. If he wants to survive, he has to become exclusive. That will allow him to stay in the industry longer, which was not how it was when I was doing 35 films a year. If I did 35 films a year, there was never a threat that I wouldn’t do well the next year. But now, I don’t want to do more than two films a year.

SR: That’s a choice you have made?

HR: That’s a choice and that is right for me. If I have to survive today, it would be very important for me to be exclusive as a composer. And, of course, I choose to be exclusive also because it helps my acting career. Because if I do 10 films for outside composers, then my films as an actor will not sell as they sell because of the music in my films.

SR: You were also the first composer to have a music video. Your films also support that whole thing.

HR: My films get that support because if I have to do a film which has no songs in it, then it won’t get that support.

SR: You mean featuring in the video helps a lot?

HR: Yes, luckily, that’s how it has happened for me. It was just a thought that I should star in my videos because international stars were also featuring in videos. So I started doing my videos, which got me recognition. Then I started doing films and now I am shooting my 10th film (as an actor). This is happening only because of the success ratio of my music. If I have to do a songless film, it would not succeed. This era, in terms of exposure from music companies and TV channels and where this kind of branding is given to music directors, lyricists and singers, is very good. Earlier, even the greatest composers never featured in videos or songs, TV shows…

SR: In fact, we did our first TV show together.

HR: Yes, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.

SR: Yes, after that reality show, people became aware of us (Vishal-Shekhar) and we got face value. It was huge and continues to be so. So, Sameer sir, do you agree that it makes a huge difference?

Sameer: But I want to ask you whether you agree with what Himesh just said?

SR: I totally agree with him, that one needs to go with the flow, with the trend.

Sameer: When you have to survive, you have to move with the times. But do you know why this change has taken place?

SR: Sir, as Kumaar said, scripts have evolved over the years. Requirements are changing every 10 years. I too have seen trends change. Earlier, the brief was very different from what it is like today.

Sameer: Every 10 years, when there is a generational change, tastes too change. The youth changes from generation to generation. When I was working with Laxmikant-Pyarelal and RD Burman, people used to say they followed Shankar Jaikishan or someone else. But when Nadeem-Shravan, Anu Malik, and Anand-Milind came in, they were the new generation and people started saying they were following Laxmikant-Pyarelal and RD Burman. So I believe nothing has changed, sur wahi saat hote hain, aathwa sur aaj tak kisi ne banaya nahin. Shabd wahi ginke 200-250 hote hain jo sab use karte hain. So you will hear the same words like dil, ishq, naina in most songs. Here’s something very beautiful that someone once said – aadmi ka jazbaa jab uss mein aata hai na, jab youth ki apni feeling unn cheezo mein aa jaati hai, then the thought process changes. Earlier, I wouldn’t have written lyrics like Chaar baj gaye lekin party abhi baaki hai simply because the thought would have never crossed my mind because we never partied till 4am. But when I met the new generation, I understood their mood and that they love partying all night long. I have also worked with Himesh and he has given me lots of inputs for lyrics. Like, he always used to tell me, ‘Sir, you are the best but…’ That ‘but’ stuck with me and I used to wonder why he said that. So you need to constantly upgrade because when a whole new generation comes about, you work with those young people. Today we have so many young composers, directors and singers as the industry is ruled by youngsters. Young people think differently and, since most of them have studied in convent schools, 90 per cent of them listen to only English music. They love to listen to compositions like that. When you are at a certain age, you obviously don’t think like a 16-year-old but you have to upgrade yourself and learn from the younger lot. Your IQ level should be on par with them so that you can understand them. That’s the basic change in the industry.

SR: Also, digital has taken over. Technology has changed and people are exposed to international music.

Kumaar: Every second person speaks in English today, which is why English words are being used in lyrics today while poetry is not used very often. Sameer sir is right, with every new generation, the thought process changes.

HR: I believe that every composer, lyricist or singer needs to focus less on Bollywood films and do their own thing if they want to get their due. Bollywood will provide them a great platform but eventually they will not be able to do more than one or two films. If a lyricist writes for 15-20 films, that will not last very long. If a lyricist has to survive and wants to be known for his body of work today, he has to write 600-1,000 songs…

SR: It’s impossible to get into that situation now.

HR: Exactly! Recognition comes with a body of work. You can’t do 10-12 songs and say, ‘I didn’t get my due.’ You will not unless you write 700-1,000 songs. Today, I am not complaining because I have a body of work and that body of work has been given by a bygone era. In this era, if someone wants to go to the next level, it is very important to be focused on work and not be dependent on Bollywood. Keep doing your own stuff in terms of making singles, like in the West.

SR: Do you think singles will get the kind of recognition that films bring?

HR: One hundred per cent! Release a good single and it will work. It is even more powerful than Bollywood songs.

SR: But do you think music companies will help?

HR: No, you don’t need to be dependent on music companies.

SR: So how do they reach out to the audience?

HR: That depends on the potential of a song. It also depends on you and the way you promote it, the way you need to realise that a ‘good song’ cannot be used for a single, only the greatest track of Vishal-Shekhar has to be used for the single. If it’s only a ‘good song’ and you put it out on social media sites, it will remain there, like your film songs. You have to give your greatest track and that will give you recognition. That will lead to opening of the market and that will see that you are not dependent on Bollywood. And once you’re not dependent on Bollywood, you will be a bigger star.

SR: So you’re optimistic about this strength?

HR: I am not just optimistic, I am certain. It is only one of your songs from the lot that can come out as a single because every composer or lyricist has 20 great songs, 20 good songs, 20 average songs. He has to see that the singles he releases are his greatest tracks. Exactly like Michael Jackson did; his singles were the greatest tracks of his compositions. Now imagine Jackson’s songs in films like Mission Impossible! Would they have become popular? Would he have become popular? He would never have become THE Michael Jackson. If you use his single Thriller in a film, it would be a disaster. But that very Thriller made Jackson a star. I composed for Tere Naam, I also did Odh li chunariya, I must have given music for 150 hit songs but I became famous only when I made my own album Aashiq Banaya Aapne. The recognition I got came from that because I featured in that video. So the focused attention on any song is very important for a composer or a lyricist. So yeh cheez ka trend aur market ko uthaane ka farz I feel is on the whole community. Composers and singers have to see that this entire market evolves and for that to happen, everyone has to push their singles in a very big way. Also, they have to be shot in a much bigger way than a film. It cannot be on a minuscule level or the audience will feel cheated as they will think, ‘Why should we watch your video if it’s not going to be as big as your film?’ Like Jackson’s videos were comparable to any film of that time. It’s the same with the quality of the single as it has to be the best in terms of composition, lyrics, voice and shooting. Also, one needs to market it well. If these five elements can be pushed by every creative composer, lyricist and singer, this market will boom although it might take a little more time before that focused attention happens in the community. The day that focused attention is there, this market will explode as the music community is very strong and it will be bigger than Bollywood.

SR: I agree with him. At one time, Indian pop was massive with Daler Mehndi, that whole trend was huge at that point. Today, Hindi film music has become pop music.

HR: That’s because no one is ready to push that market.

SR: Divya, is it commercially viable for you to cut a single and market it yourself?

Divya Kumar (DK):That’s the thing, especially for a singer like me who has just started out and doesn’t have face value and has begun his career with playback music. I don’t care about face value; I want to do good work and be backstage. But there are people who are singing their hearts out, trying to reach out to the public. There are very few lucky ones who get a break in Bollywood. If you release a single on YouTube, it gets lost among the many put out by others. Through those singles, which have become massive hits on YouTube, some are getting a chance in Bollywood. So if I wanted to do it, given the Bollywood songs I’ve already done, I think I could get audiences to listen to my single. Audiences today only recognise songs and they never care to check who sung or wrote them. They want to hear music; they don’t care about the details. Obviously, there are known faces, so when a Vishal-Shekhar or Himesh Reshammiya compose a song, the audience knows. But there are also people like me, who have just started out and have a few hits to their name but still no face value.

SR: Yes… I’ve heard your stuff, I’ve heard about you, but I am meeting you for the first time.

Kumaar: If one can afford it, they should cut a single.

HR: Affordability ki baat hi nahin hai ismein. Your concept is the biggest hero of your single, just as the script is the hero in films. If you just release any old single on YouTube, you are putting out a message that you don’t value your own brand. But with some focused effort, you can make even a sasta video work, as long as the concept is the hero. One needs to work very hard on a video. The quality of many of the videos on YouTube is so poor that they are practically unwatchable. That kind of thing doesn’t work for anyone.

SR: Kumaar, I think good songs stand out on their own, even if the video is bad or there is no promotion. I think a good song always stands out. And the audience is the king; they make us what we are. As Himesh said, the parallel trend of singles should kick off in a big way.

Kumaar: I think it has… the trend has started.

SR: Yes, it has.

HR: It has started but if there is no attention focused on it, the market won’t take off. The reason I am saying this over and over again is because we have had a strong market for videos. Back when I did the album Aap Kaa Surroor, it was the biggest hit. But later on, others started making videos, aur aise aise logon ne videos banana shuru kiya that the market nosedived. It’s the same in Bollywood. The films being released now are all big films. There is a visual scale and quality to them. We have to bring that same quality to videos, to songs as well as their promotion. For this, the whole community has to come together. If we just upload videos on a daily basis, the market will grow weak.

Kumaar: It also depends on the person, whether or not he can afford it.

SR: There was a time when people invested Rs 35 lakh in a single video.

Kumaar: Exactly. But can everyone afford that?

SR: What you are saying is that there is no point spending so much money because there are no returns.

Sameer: Correct. There are no CD sales.

Kumaar: No music sales.

SR: If the infrastructure is worked out correctly, it can all be worked out.

Sameer: The main reason we are still debating this is, people are just not sure how many downloads they’ll get, even on a good video. That’s what we really need to address.

HR: If a song is a super hit, you earn money off it. There are no returns on an average track. It’s the same with films – either a film is a hit or, if it is average, people face losses. The scenario now is such that you have to be fully confident about that one song giving you returns. If the song becomes a blockbuster, then there is absolutely no way that you won’t get returns on it. But you need to be sure it will be a blockbuster.

Sameer: Himesh, the problem is that there is no way to stop people from making average videos. There is nothing to stop anybody from uploading 10 average videos a day.

Kumaar: There have been songs that haven’t even had a video, but were still super hits. There are such songs on the Internet.

HR: I am talking about super-successful people rather than those who are trying to make a mark in the industry with small-budget videos. That is another story altogether. I am talking about the core community working in the industry. If those people are to make this market strong, then this is the only way. By uploading these unplugged videos over and over again, the market has grown weak because, eventually, the market gets devalued. Audiences start to think, achha video daala hai, koi badi baat nahin hai. Today, the superstars we have in the film industry don’t do 10 films a year. If they wanted to, they could do 12, but they don’t, and that’s why superstars are valued. If a superstar was seen every month, in every other film, big or small, it wouldn’t work. That exclusivity is needed for any premium brand, film or product. The level of success in the West is only achieved through that exclusivity.

Sameer: Woh toh ho gaya, beta. Today, there are brands everywhere. Branding is very important. Just how much you can build your brand is entirely up to you.

SR: My only point is for the youth of today, those just starting out, those who have had one hit song and then no more, what is their future? How can they sustain themselves? How can they move forward? Is there a way they can make it to 50 films?

HR: Shekhar, I think the answer is exclusivity. Just one word – ‘exclusive’.

SR: They should not sing every song offered to them.

HR: Correct. If their one song is a hit, then they should let the next five go. Letting the next five song offers go is the key. Today, superstars refuse work. I am not saying stop working, but learn to take on only those projects that are the best for you. That is the only way to set yourself apart now. This wasn’t how it was earlier. We never used to think about things like that. We would happily sing in 30 consecutive films. But those 30 films used to work, and the songs used to work.

Sameer: You asked how one should enter and survive in this industry. One has to follow the path you took because nothing has changed. The way you started, the way you struggled, everybody has to do that. There is no formula for making it big. Woh toh…

SR: (Cuts in) No, sir, the thing is, the infrastructure that we are talking about, if it is in place, would it help these new kids?

Sameer: Definitely, better infrastructure always helps. Like these reality shows… earlier, when there were no reality shows, there wasn’t much recognition for singers. Now, thanks to this platform, people are slowly recognising them. So infrastructure helps in any field.

Kumaar: Yes, in any field.

SR: In the independent scenario the singles have started.

Sameer: And why are we fighting for IPRS? Only because this is the biggest problem they are facing. One is not getting the kind of money one deserves. So, if infrastructure is in place, 90 per cent of the problem will be solved. We are still fighting and hoping for the best.

SR: And we are hoping that the government will do the best for us.

Sameer: Yes, definitely.

SR: Kanika, what about new singers who have just entered the music scenario and have hit the number one position after their very first song? What is the way forward for them, how do you see yourself going about it as you have experienced that yourself? Every song you do is a smash hit.

BOI: Everyone agrees that independent singles are the way forward but to what extent does a film’s success fuel that mission? Does it position you to popularise your singles? Himesh pointed out that his music career in films gave him the platform for Aap Ka Surroor. So do you think that, going forward, it is critical to also be a part of the film industry?

HR: Obviously, I don’t believe in putting all my eggs in one basket. Just look at how many professions I am dealing with already. I don’t believe in sticking to one profession although many people disagree with that…

SR: (Cuts in) We are all artistes at the end of the day.

HR: I completely understand that.

SR: You put us on stage, you put us on reality shows, you put us behind the camera, on the big screen or maybe tell a singer to write a song. Everyone likes to try out new things and that is how we evolve.

HR: Also, today, everybody is accepting that. Earlier, if Sameerji had started singing and even if he had sung a beautiful song, people would have had a problem with the fact that Sameerji had started singing. Today people are doing exactly what they want to without being questioned.

SR: Today, our actors are singing so well. So, yes, everything is going to change.

Sameer: The market is open, which is good.

BOI: To all you artistes, how restricting is the fact that you have to cater to the director’s vision or the script’s vision?

HR: That’s fine, it’s just how we work. Although films are a great platform, that’s another reason an artiste should not be dependent on films.

SR: The thing is, it is not about working for someone, it is about collaborating with someone. You are not just working with the director; you are collaborating with the director, you are part of his film. You are not a mere technician.

Kumaar: Correct, it often seems like we are working for them instead of with them. We have to change that and saamne waalon ko bhi sochna hoga ke we are their companions.

BOI: We are not referring to hierarchy, what we are saying is suppose you want to experiment with heavy metal and the film doesn’t have the platform to experiment with that genre, does that restrict you as an artiste?

SR: No, it doesn’t. Directors are usually very clear about the music genre they want for their script. You have to cater to that genre by staying true to the script. At the same time, you are defining yourself and your own music. So, if you give them a folk song full of heavy metal, they will love it because folk is the genre of the film. You have got to keep all of this in mind.

BOI: But are they open to catering to your independent vision, if you believe it suits the script?

SR: Of course.

HR: There might be a problem initially but, after you give three to four hits, they won’t question you.

BOI: But if you work with a new director, is it easier to convince them?

HR: I think it is your success ratio that matters. So if you have already delivered four to five hits, then they will trust you, you can convince them, sometimes there will be a difference of opinion, which is fine.

Sameer: It depends purely on the person. I have met so many directors, who are very rigid and don’t want to change, and then there are directors who accept your suggestions if they are good. For instance, when I was working on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, when I told Karan that I could improve the mukhda of a song, he said just one thing, ‘Sameerji, please don’t give me anything better or worse, what I want, I got it.’ He didn’t want to allow it because he was 100 per cent sure of his vision and his style of writing. There are a few people who are open to experimenting and trying out new things. But most people with whom I have worked, like Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar, they are extremely clear. It is the smaller people, the second rung of directors, who are totally confused. They don’t know enough, so they say, ‘Sir ek hit gaana de do.’ How, I don’t know. I don’t have that kind of vision where I can say ‘this is the hit gaana.’ (Laughs)

SR: We have a very intelligent and talented lot of people at the moment, and they push you, they bring the best out of you. And they collaborate so well with you that you are challenging yourself every now and then. You think, ‘Let us deliver the best and do a genre that has never been done before.’ Everyone has a blast because someone is willing to try something new.

Kumaar: Sometimes, there are 100 questions in front of every line and at times there are no questions at all. Like, when I did Katti Batti, I had full freedom. The director (Nikhil Advani) told me nothing, he was like, ‘Aap jaisa likho ge waisa mein gaana banaunga.’ So, when we get the freedom to work creatively, we are able to explore ourselves and it helps us deliver better.

SR: Kai baar kya hota hai, when you give an artiste freedom, hum fail ho jaate hain (Laughs). This is a vast ocean and, at the end of the day, you have to work within the parameters of the film, we can’t do as we please.

BOI: Getting to the issue of being stereotyped… we are sure each one of you has faced this problem. Kanika, you must have been told a million times ki ek aur Baby doll banaa do. Do you get to experiment at all or do they just want to replicate your last hit?

Kumaar: It is not possible to replicate a song. Banega ek hi baar.

KK: I’m always asked for more Baby dolls. They say they want the similar tone and a similar style of singing. But, waisa, same nahin nikalta. Some songs need this and some need that. Every song is different.

Kumaar: When your tonality is different, the song sounds different.

Sameer: I think that will keep happening because the market always needs a hit song and when something becomes a hit, there is a demand for that. But it can’t happen over and over again.

Kumaar: Same nahin par kuchh alag zaroor ho jata hai.

SR: Luckily for us, nobody says that, everyone just says that Chamak challo ke upar ek gaana chahiye. (Laughs)

Sameer: Initially, you feel the pressure that an artiste goes through as he sings so many songs that he starts to sound similar but he cannot afford to do that.

SR: But most directors don’t say these things, yaar. There are only a few who tell you to sing in the same way that you sang before.

SR: (Cuts in) I think it is about how good a singer you are and the tonality of the singer, and sometimes it is a mix of both. Himesh, what do you think of this tonality thing that is rampant in the industry?

HR: I think it’s good. When you write a script, you write for a particular hero. Similarly, you compose a song for a particular tone. I believe that till that tone works, one should utilise it. There is nothing wrong in repeating it. As a composer, I have always felt that if one of my songs works, the next four of the same kind will also work. It’s happened with all my songs. If I have done one Chunariya then I have done four Chunariyas and all four were hits. After Aashiq banaya, I made 50 Aashiq banayas. Then I did Hukka bar and Jumme ki raat, and all of them were in new zones. If you get a song in one zone and you can improve it in another song, while keeping 90 per cent of the tonality the same, it works.

KK: Yeah, it worked for me. (Laughs)

HR: But after years, I would never go back to that zone.

BOI: Sameerji was saying that trends keep changing and Shekhar, as you pointed out, each window is getting smaller. How do you know when one phase is over and it’s time to move on?

HR: When one song in that zone doesn’t work, you know it’s over.

BOI: Kanika and Divya, as Himesh pointed out, there are so many all-rounders in the industry now. People are composing music, writing lyrics and singing. Both Himesh and Shekhar sing as well. How difficult is it to get work now, if you’re not venturing into another space as a singer?

KK: It’s not easy, which is why in the last couple of months I have started writing music for myself. It is very tough with such amazing people around and with so many new singers.

HR: I think every singer should turn composer. This may sound odd but a singer should see that woh apne liye gaane banaaye if he wants to have a long and successful career.

HR: If they don’t do it, they are dependent on a composer who has a choice of 2,000 singers. Sometimes, even when a composer wants to remember a particular singer, he can’t. There have been times when after recording a song, a particular singer comes to mind, and I wish I had called him to sing instead. So that happens. Whether a composer becomes a singer or not depends on whether or not he has that quality but a singer should start composing for himself.

BOI: Divya, how tough is the competition?

DK: There is a lot of competition. But, ultimately, talent matters. So if you believe there are facets to your talent that can be explored, go ahead and do that. And, as Himesh sir said, a singer should turn composer. In fact, I am trying to work on this. One doesn’t know what kind of lifespan a singer has today, maybe 10 years or even five years. The only way to stay creative is by discovering other aspects to your talent such as composing or song writing or even directing movies.

HR: Divya, as you said, you don’t know how long the career of a singer is today. If you remain exclusive, you will work for 15 years or even more. I can assure you that for a person who is talented, the biggest need is exclusivity. If you get success, it is very important to preserve that success. If you deliver 10 or 12 hit songs a year, and you can, to prove a point you can give even 15 hit songs a year. But the next year woh khalne lagega. But if that same hit singer delivers two smash hits a year and refuses to do just about any song that comes his way, it will ensure a fruitful career. I mean this for Kanika or Divya as they have already achieved success; this does not apply to a new singer who has just gotten out of a reality show.

BOI: Like you just mentioned, music directors have 2,000 or 3,000 singers to choose from and might miss out on a good voice.

HR: That’s okay. But exclusivity will ensure that they survive.

BOI: Music composers also have their own bank when it comes to singers. Do you prefer working with a set list or are you open to working with everybody as you have different genres?

HR: Everyone is working with everyone now.

SR: It’s a completely new trend and there is no ‘bad’ competition. They are all friends, we are all friends. We all hang out together and we are happy for each other. It is a beautiful space, where everyone is discovering themselves. The only question is their respective strengths.

BOI: What is that one insecurity that you all have, something you can conquer in time but that is very real in the music industry today?

HR: That I can’t experiment because of the pressure of always delivering a hit.

BOI: But can’t you experiment with your singles?

HR: No, I can’t because I don’t want to experience failure. Eventually, I will live with the fact that I didn’t experiment and missed out on several opportunities because I was chasing success. And I can’t change. For instance, I made some very good music with Banaras and it was appreciated a whole lot, people still talk about it but it was a disaster album in terms of work. Actually, it was my only disaster in terms of music. At the same time, I know that my way of thinking is wrong. I live with the pressure of delivering a hit, due to which 150 of my compositions, which are experimental, will never come out.

SR: I am not insecure at all. Just have fun and go with the flow. At the end of the day, you make a good song. Whether it is a hit or not is for the public to decide. You have to have fun with it. If you have enjoyed the process, it always translates into becoming big. That only happens when you don’t think of getting into a big space. If the vibe you put out is positive, the outcome too will be positive.

HR: That’s the way to be happy, which is not the case with me!

Sameer: My biggest insecurity is how to keep up and keep reinventing myself with the youth and the new writers. That is my biggest insecurity.

Kumaar: Main actually mauji aadmi hoon, lamhe ke saath chalta hoon. I don’t think too much and I don’t have any plans for the future. I go with the flow. Whatever has happened to date has been good. Whatever happens in future will also be good. And everything happens for the best. Some things are bad and some are good but at the end of the day, all of this makes us who we are.

KK: I have experienced a lot of failure in the course of my life. I have learnt a lot from it and I have learnt how to deal with it. So I live for the now and I do my best. I don’t think about the future. But if I am asked to sing a song I don’t like, I won’t sing it, regardless of who it is for.

Kumaar: She took the words right out of my mouth! (Laughs)

KK: (Laughs) But now I don’t have a fear of failure.

SR: As artistes, we all just want to go with the flow, do some good work and be happy.

KK: Jab tak chalna hai tab tak chalega…

DK: It was my parents’ dream for me to become a playback singer. I found success because of them and if I experience failure now, it wouldn’t matter. It’s all for my parents.

BOI: One final question, does the music community get the remuneration and recognition it deserves from the film community?

Sameer: Not at all.

HR: Yes, I have got it.

Kumaar: Not as much as we should get. Let me tell you two things, a lyricist writes lyrics even on a stolen tune. When a song becomes a hit, we realise the tune has been picked up from somewhere else. But a writer writes original lyrics. He is paid for that. But, frankly, when you work hard and build a brand, you are in a commanding position. Baaki Sameerji, aap batao. (Laughs)

Sameer: Most of the biggest producers and directors agree that music is 50 per cent of a film’s success. But if you’re talking about money, we are in a negative space. A star charges Rs 30-40 crore per film; now ask any lyrics writer how much they earn. Ask even the music director.

Kumaar: Moreover, it is very difficult to write lyrics in today’s times. Today’s lyrics are not filmy, we don’t know what is required. Someone wants a caller tune, someone wants digital writing, and producers need something like this or that. At the end of the day, we are not artistes but businessmen.

SR: I think once the royalty system sorts itself out, everyone will be happy. And depending on the amount of work you have done and the strength of your work in the past couple of years, everyone has a certain price. Now whether you are paid less or more, that is not the question. The thing is, everything should be organised. In the West, if you put out a song, you get massive royalties if your song does well. The royalties come to you automatically and on time. This requires a professional system and transparency. Once that happens here, everyone will be happy.

Kumaar: I am satisfied with my job and I don’t have any complaints. Whatever I get, I get a lot and zarooraton ke mutaabik toh khwaahishon ka anth hi nahin. I am satisfied with what I have. Kuchh nahi leke aaya tha aur bohot kuchh mil gaya.

BOI: Himesh is happy, of course.

HR: I am happy because that’s the way I have designed my career. I have tried and God has helped me. The only thing I am not happy about is the fact that all these people are not insecure and I am insecure. That is my problem and that is why I keep learning and I talk about all this to Sameerji too. I tell him that I don’t know what to do about this. Next hit ka soch kar hi hit banata hoon main. Like Shekhar said, he doesn’t think about the song becoming a hit or not and that is the reason he is in a happier space. I am never in a happy space, even though I have achieved a lot. I am always insecure… what if my next project is not a hit? What will happen then? So, I make 20 songs and then throw them away, and that process and pressure might throw up my best song. In terms of all the other factors, like remuneration, success and branding, I have achieved what I set out to but, again, that insecurity of taking it further bothers me.

SR: It’s not about money but about credibility and respect.

HR: Yes.

SR: That is something we are kind of growing on. We are happy with that.

BOI: Are singers are paid enough?

DK: Yes, we are paid okay but it is much more important for me to keep working. I think remuneration will come along if I have talent. And if I seriously think about remuneration, I believe it will come only if I think about exclusivity, like Himeshji said.

HR: Then, it will come on its own.

KK: I won’t lie but…

Kumaar: Aapko zarurat nahin lagti…

KK: Ab jo dikhta hai woh bikta hai! (Laughs) But all that glitters is not gold. I started my music career because I needed a job. People think if you have one hit song, you could earn a lot from live shows. I took almost a year to get on stage and be calm and collected and be able to face the audience. I had so many insecurities that in the initial few months, I sang on the stage on One Plus. Even though I could have sung live, I just wouldn’t. Initially, I couldn’t sing in front of him (Shekhar) because I was still dealing with myself. After a year, now, I can go on stage and sing calmly. I can sing in front of music directors without any worry. Now I can sing freely, unlike a year ago. When I was working with him (Kumaar), I told him that if I was paid for shows, then I had to pay him because more than half the work was done by him. But it is not easy to earn good money as a singer; you have be a good performer as well. Being a singer in a studio and a performer on stage are two very different things.

SR: As artistes, forget about the insecurities and just be happy. Just put you heart and soul into it and everything else will follow.

HR: I am taking coaching classes from Shekhar now. (Laughs)

SR: Himesh!!!

HR: You are born with a certain quality, now what do you do!

Kumaar: I have always seen Himeshji bas junoon mein music chalta hai, jab jao busy!

HR: That is my problem; I want to leave all this but oh God, my insecurities! (Laughs)

Article Credits: Box Office

Twitter/Facebook: HimeshRcom


3 responses so far

3 Responses to “HR Interview: Round Table Music Talk”

  1. Girl at the Pianoon 29 Sep 2015 at 1:44 am
  2. azeon 30 Sep 2015 at 6:27 am

    HR drips of awesomeness. Whatever he talks, whatever he does – look at that storming attitude. Always stands out of the crowd. Keep it up, Himesh Ji. There is more to you than just the music.

    HR Rocks!


  3. Parvinon 06 Oct 2015 at 8:45 pm

    #$# Oh!! HR You are so fantastic in answering and in knowing yourself. Doing tooo great just keep up your good work. God is always there with everyone. God bless you my ROCKING ROCKSTAR


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