Shruti Barton MA Creative Economy
“Music….A magic beyond all we do here!”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)
Since music is evidently the key ingredient which differentiates Bollywood films from Hollywood, it seems apt to interview those at the helm of these melodies. Enter Anand and Milind, music composers of Bollywood films since 1983. Now I know we have no aspiring Bollywood music composers in the vicinity (unless you have omitted to mention this previously), however for my talented music student colleagues, perhaps you will find this interview of some interest and the music videos entertaining.
1. What exactly is it that you both do?
We are music directors in the Hindi film industry, often referred to as Bollywood……but why not have our own identity? Hindi films, or for that matter, Indian films are heavily dependent on music. Music has always been an important part of India’s culture. You have a song for every possible occasion for example, a wedding song, a prayer song (bhajan), a song for the harvest season (baisakhi), a song for the new born baby, a war song, and so on. The list is endless! Apart from these, a typical Hindi film also has the famous ROMANTIC SONG – with the hero and heroine running around trees, splashing in the pool, gyrating, singing, dancing and having lots of fun.
Our job is to read and listen to the script, discuss the possible song situations with the director and suggest why a particular song situation may or may not work or may or may not inspire us. Usually you have 5 to 6 situations in a particular film. Once these things are sorted out, and the lyricist is finalised, we start working on the tunes. It could work both ways, tune first and words later or lyrics first and tune later. At times we compose 2 or 3 tunes for a single situation. After approval, we actively participate in the voice-casting. Then we decide on the studio. We also have to work on the orchestra, music interludes, set the rhythm patterns for every song and write down the harmonies, bass line and obligato selection of instruments – whether solo or group, percussions, chorus and every other aspect related to the song construction. We are also involved in the process of recording, and balance the sound in the studio and mix and master all our songs.
Apart from the songs we also do the background score. We have recorded the background score for most of our movies, unless, of course there are time constraints. Besides this, we have composed for many albums and also composed music for a few films in other Indian languages like Bengali and Telugu. So we are basically the composers/authors/music directors according to the terms used in India.
2. How long have you been doing this for?
It’s been more than thirty years since we started. First we did a documentary film sometime around 1980, then a few Jingles and Ad films as well.
3. What did you study?
Anand: I graduated in Science from the University of Bombay – with Chemistry and Botany as my main subjects. Then I completed a Diploma course in Business Management, again from the University of Bombay, with subjects like accounts and sales management! I further went to a Law college to do a 3-year degree course, but did not appear for the exams at the end of the first academic year. The reason being my first break into the Hindi film industry.
Milind: I graduated with a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Sociology and Psychology and an MA (Master of Arts) in Sociology. Since my father was a renowned music composer from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, and he composed for over 200 films, music always ran in my blood, I have been playing rhythm instruments since early childhood and learned to play the guitar when I grew up. So basically, I am a guitarist.
4. Who gave you your first break and how?
Film director Pankaj Parasher gave Anand Milind our first break. Actually we were childhood friends. We “jammed” sometimes – on the piano and guitar and Pankaj on percussions!! He always thought that we were musically inclined and extremely talented and said that when he got his big break as a film director, he would sign us as his music directors. And he did keep his promise! This was in the year 1983, and the film was Ab Aayega Mazaa. The film was launched with a song recording and the song was sung by none other than Lata Mangeshkar! Spot the dance routine here:
5. Can you list your most successful piece of work to date & explain why it is so successful?
Our first major blockbuster was Nasir Hussain’s film, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak starring Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla, whose song Papa Kehte Hai is still considered an anthem to students graduating from college and university.
The 80’s saw the advent of the disco culture even in India. It was disco music all the way. Even the “non-disco” songs were all rhythm-no melody. Being loud was the benchmark. In contrast the music of Qayamat se Qayamat Tak came like a whiff of fresh air. Being a tender love story, we took the risk of opting for lyrical, soothing, soft melodies. It worked. The music clicked. It became a craze and so did the movie!
Our strong point has always been simple, good poetry, catchy lilting melodies complimented with peppy, groovy beats and stylish orchestration.
6. Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
Anand: My father, the late Chitragupta was a well-known and successful music director of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and even the 80’s. I am very inspired by his life and music. Having grown up in a musical environment has been a big asset. I consider myself very fortunate because I have actually seen such greats as Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey, Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur, Mukesh and Mahendra Kapoor coming home for rehearsals or just for a chat and a cup of tea!!
I am also inspired by so many other composers who ruled during what is called the ” Golden-era” of Hindi film music, Shanker-Jaikishan, S.D.Burman, Salil Chowdhary, O.P. Nayyar, C.Ramchandra, Ravi, Laxmikant-Pyarelal to name a few; and equally by so many talented artists from all over the globe, be it Cliff Richard or Tom Jones, Mehdi Hassan or Jagjit Singh, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasiya or Antremont.
Milind: The biggest inspiration in my life is also my father, the late Chitragupta, who was a major composer of the golden era of Hindi film music. He taught me Hindustani classical raga’s that have helped me in my compositions.
7. What do you see as one of the biggest challenges in the Indian music industry over the next 10 years?
Anand: Technology is changing and evolving by the day. Keeping up with technology is going to be a big challenge. A piece of work created today is going to sound outdated tomorrow. So a particular project would have to be released within a particular time frame.
I firmly believe that music today should be a combination of art, talent and technology, and NOT technology alone. The warmth of a live orchestra can never be substituted by the synthesizer. Any creation needs passion. One of the reasons for the decline in the shelf life of songs in general has, in my opinion, been lack of passion and dedication and also an over-dependence on technology.
With the advancement in technology comes the issue of piracy. Curbing this menace is going to be an uphill task.
Milind: For me, the biggest challenge that the music industry is facing today is the lack of good poetry, but, I hope that in the coming years, it will return.
8. What is your opinion of the internet and social media and its impact on Bollywood’s film and music industry?
Anand: The internet has made life so simple – a click of the button and your music or film is right out there. But it has taken away some of the excitement too – the thrill of going to the music store, buying a record or a cassette or a CD and listening to it a 100 times!! Today we do not have the patience to give music a second listen…the delete button does the rest!
Social media has both a positive and negative impact. One gets instant recognition and can be flooded with bouquets. On the flip side it could be brickbats. There is always the possibility of tons of downloads, for example the Tamil Kolaveri song (Ramadurai, 2011) and Gangnam Style (2012). But the scary part is that there are always some biased opinions which could influence one’s business or popularity albeit temporarily.
Milind: Internet and social media have had a massive and positive impact on Bollywood films and the music industry. Because of social media and the internet, Bollywood movies and music can now reach out to the world and have become global. Our music can be listened to globally on our YouTube channel, and purchased online through iTunes.
9. How do you market yourself?
Anand: When we entered the industry, marketing was not a big issue. Electronic media virtually did not exist. Even television in India was in its adolescence. The only way one could reach out was through print media. There were weekly film newspapers which were circulated within the film industry. They were subscribed only by the film fraternity. They carried news items, pictures and information regarding film launches, completion, releases, shootings, song recordings, dubbings and also award functions and parties. There were also reputed film magazines which featured write-ups, articles and photo-features of celebrities. A couple of interviews every few months were all that was necessary to reach out to millions of people and fans. Today, with the electronic media becoming so strong, I think marketing has become very important. It is indeed a specialized job.
Milind: The producers of the films do publicise on an extensive scale, right from the announcement of the film, to the song recordings to the completion, until the release. Previously, as our songs and films became major hits, we got major recognition. Exposure to the media in the form of press interviews, interviews in daily tabloids, interviews on television, radio stations and other media have also helped us to market ourselves.
10. What are your words of advice to prospective musicians and composers looking to pursue a career in Bollywood?
Anand: If you have the talent and the ability to work hard and if you are enthusiastic and confident, you are bound to succeed. Another key factor is ‘patience’. Even with our film and musical background, it was a long wait before we got established.
Another piece of advice; be thoroughly prepared before you make the plunge. Know your craft. Strive for perfection.
Also a word of caution; the career -span of artists, musicians and composers was much longer in the good old days….15 years, 20 years and sometimes even 30-35 years. That is not the case today. One must have something to fall back upon. And the shelf-life of music in general has gone down from an ‘eternity to a few weeks’! This needs some serious thinking and analysis. Else it could spell disaster for Indian music in the years to come.
Milind: You should have a strong base in learning, reading and writing music and should keep melody and poetry in mind while composing Hindi film songs.
For further information:
To download music (legally) visit: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/anand-milind/id157181522
YouTube Channel: Anand Milind
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