In the current scene where musician duo in Bollywood are breaking up, Pritam who parted ways with partner Jeet some years back is going great guns independently. Dhoom put him on the top spot. Then came Chocolate, Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, Garam Masala and Fight Club. Currently he is ruling the charts with Gangster and Ankahee.
Pritam shares his long journey to success with IndiaFM.
Gangster's music is running successfully all over. How does it feel?
Yes. I have worked very hard on Gangster and the music is doing well. It's good news for me. I personally like the album very much. This is my kind of music. Dhoom was a big hit and I was asked to make songs like Dhooom Machale. Yet, I feel that Gangster is my kind of music.
How was it working in the Bhatt camp?
They are very nice people and are very passionate about their music. It's a lot of fun to work with them. They appreciate your work. The best part is that everybody participates. Just like African music in which everyone participates. It's quite a friendly atmosphere out there. Mukesh Bhatt is also so passionate about music. Tu Hi meri Shab was dubbed five times. K K dubbed it once and then a Pakistani singer called Nazam who was here for Kalyug also dubbed for the same. We tried everything till we got it right. Bheegi Bheegi was dubbed by four people. And Ya Ali was dubbed by five to six people. We need a producer to support this as it costs money. This is the level of involvement in this company. Vishesh Films is like that. Everybody participates in everything.
There must be pressure on you since Emraan has always had hit music in his films.
I never thought of it that way. I like Emraan as a person. When I started recording for Gangster, Aashiq Banaya Aapne had already released. That time the potential of Emraan as a musical star wasn't established. Now things are different. Luckily all his music works.
How did you discover James?
There's no connection between James and this song. Bheegi Bheegi is a Bengali song, composed by a band called Mohinir with Gautam Banerjee in the lead. I used to play the Bengali version of Bheegi Bheegi. Anurag was toying with the idea of having a song like this. We decided if we want the same kind of song, then why not this song itself. I wanted to take pride in remaking this. I have worked the hardest on this song because I knew I was representing all my friends who used to be a part of the band. It's a cult Bengali song. So I had to work too hard on it. Today, if you find the song of an international level, then it's because of the fact that a lot of hard work has gone into it. Anurag and Maheshji heard James and called him. Though he was untraceable, we managed to contact him. He came here and got lost. He was not sure whether he will perform it or not! We gave him alcohol! Then it was a one take thing! The real James came out! He doesn't even know one word of Hindi. When Mr. Bhatt heard the song, he complimented him as the future voice of Bollywood. He is very fond of James. Bhatt has identified many talents but his reaction to James was something great.
You have shared screen space with James in the video. Tell us something about that.
I had no plans of doing the video. Anurag who is a very close friend of mine, thought of it. He is a very good director. If you see Gangster you will find it an epic love story. I trust him as a friend and can do anything for him. He literally coaxed me into doing the video. Now, I feel I shouldn't have done it. But at that point of time I enjoyed it because I have been associated with this song from a long time. It took me back to my college days and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. But I still feel that this is not my video but purely James's video I am there because of Anurag.
Are you planning any more videos after this?
No more videos for me! I want to go back and play in the rock band and do live shows. May be it doesn't have much money, but the fun of being in a band on stage is different. It's a different high altogether. Interacting with the audiences is a complete high. I will not enjoy doing Bollywood shows completely. I'd rather have my own band. I feel that I am a terrible singer and actor as well so I'll never be in a video again.
What would you prefer - composing music for Bollywood or performing live with a band?
Composing music obviously, but being on stage is a high. Again, if you do it all the time, then the excitement doesn't stay for long. I would like to have an equal balance between both.
Tell us about Ankahee.
Ankahee's songs are very close to my heart. Vikram and Ronita called me and asked for romantic songs. Anu Malik was doing the music earlier, and it got shelved. Vikram confirmed that it's a new project. Otherwise I don't like stepping in anyone's work. It's not good for either of us. But it's a new concept with a new star cast. Though the storyline is the same, it doesn't mean it's the same project. I still get compliments for the movie. Melodically I think Ankahee is my best work till date.
Would you like to be a guest composer for any film?
I don't mind guest composing for a film as long as its clear with the other music directors. Though I get many offers, I avoid doing one song for a film. Logically, I didn't want to do that. If I do it henceforth, it will be in complete harmony. If there are three or four music directors, then doing one song is no problem. But I would not like to step into someone else' shoes. I am a very open minded person. Being a music director does not only require making tunes. They should be termed as music supervisors. If my producer wants me to do any specific song inspired from somewhere, then I would like to take its copyright and then do it. Our laws are not so strong and we don't know the whole process. It has started now and we managed to take copyrights for Bheegi Bheegi from Ali Zafar. I was not a part of the Aadat controversy. Mukeshji did the same song with copyrights. If the song is too good and it needs to be in same version, then mention the original composer with copyrights and create your version. I have done that for Bheegi Bheegi. If you hear the Bengali version, you will realize that my song is quite different. I didn't want to touch the structure at all.
Tell us about Dhoom2.
Dhoom 2 is bigger than Dhoom but I can't reveal anything about it. I am under a secrecy clause. A lot of times, I have been misquoted on Dhoom2 and I don't want that again. Yash Raj Films is very secretive about their projects. With the cast of Aishwarya, Hrithik, Abhishek, Bipasha, Uday and Rimi, it's definitely going to be bigger than Dhoom. The pressure is too much on me. But I think if Dhoom and Dhoom2 would have released at the same time, there would be no baggage of a hit on me and Dhoom2 would have been better.
You have worked with the Bhatts and the Chopras. How different are they in their style of working?
Vishesh films and Yash Raj are completely different in their working style. In Yash Raj, Adi is a genius. I haven't seen anybody like him. He talks very less but whatever he says means a lot. It's too much of a pleasure to work with Adi. I look up to Adi for his judgment of every little part of filmmaking. I was protesting against Dhoom Machle but he liked it and now when I look back I feel that he was right. His judgments just never go wrong. It's very difficult to compare these two.
Tell us something about your forthcoming films.
PNC's Pyar Ke Side Effects, Sachin Bajaj's Naksha, Subhash Ghai's Apna Sapna Money Money Money, Priyadarshan's Bhagam Bhag, Meghana Gulzar's next and Dhoom2 are my movies releasing this year.
From among your contemporaries, who is your favorite music director?
It's very difficult to mention only one. Everyone comes up with good music. I love Shankar Ehsaan Loy. I am a big fan of A R Rehman, Vishal Shekhar, Salim- Sulaiman and Anand Raj Anand. I think Aryan is fabulous. Himesh is also doing well. They are more than composers and that's the reason I like their songs. But I don't think anybody has achieved R D Burman's style. Everyone had their own style in those days. The reason was that they had the same set of musicians playing for them. But now all films' music is so similar. All sound the same except for Himesh's because of his voice. It's difficult to make out the style of every music director because sometimes they are so similar.
Do you think any of them maintain consistency?
I think everybody is talented. Every music director has a capacity. Otherwise they would not be here. If you get a good director with a good musical sense, he will bring out the best in you. The second is marketing. If you have a very good song it has to be marketed well. Songs have to gel with the screenplay. We are not here to make our own albums. My style keeps on changing every time. I compose according to the film.
Which is the most unusual or rare musical instrument that you have used in your compositions?
It's an old Turkish flute called a Dudukh. It sounds like a saxophone and a flute. I have used it in Dhoom2.
Which music directors from the past have inspired you a lot?
I am a fan of R D Burman, Ilaya Raja, Madan Mohan, Jaidev, Khayyam, and O P Nayyar. It's difficult to take one name. When I was in college, I absolutely loved R.D.Burman.
Are there any international stars you would like to work with?
Given a choice, I would love to work with Shakira, Ricky Martin, Beyonce, Robbie Williams and Jennifer Lopez.