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Sandeep Chowta on his new album

Courtesy: IndiaFM

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

He kicked of his career in Bollywood with the movie Mast and composed many unforgettable tunes, thereafter. Sandeep Chowta needs no introduction. His conviction and vision for music makes him more confident about his work. The man has no regrets about leaving the Hindi film Industry. He is all set to rock again with his new album Mallika I Hate You. Sandeep talks to IndiaFM about his new album and future projects.

Tell us about your album Mallika I Hate You. What is the concept of the album? It's a nice commercial, pop song. The song has a concept. We have five versions of the same song. Its not that we wrapped it all in two weeks! I believe that when people hear a song on television, they don't buy the album, because they don't want the rest of the songs from the album. After playing the song two-three times, you will change the CD. But here you don't have to because I am giving you five different versions of the same song. You can hear the same song again and again, differently. I have increased the shelf life of the song and promoted the concept. It's a single in commercial terms.

Why such a title? Does it have anything to do with actress Mallika Sherawat?

No it's not referring to Mallika Sherawat. Mallika is a very Indian name. If I called the song Malaika, it won't ever work. Or even Alisha would have got the same attraction but Mallika sounds more musical. There is another line after that. It is "Mallika I Hate You but I want to touch you." Suddenly the anti ness goes! It also has the lyrics Chuona Chuo Chule Mujhe, Hoton Se Hont Milale and Shamma Ki Aag Bujhale. The girl starts laughing and says "Just kidding yaar..." So it's a tease! It could flatter any woman. It's a woman's song completely. It's about the woman of today, who loves to be admired but then says "Keep your distance."

Tell us about the people who have worked on the album.
Sonu Kakkar is all over the album. Then there is my partner from the US, Jay Oliver and me. It's a very high production value album. You will understand when you hear the sound of the album. We have tried to promote different kinds of sound and music. We thought that this album was the vehicle for the promotion. In this country you need a reference point for everything. Nobody produces a single here. The retailers may think we have gone mad, but then the song is good and we convinced them. There is a lot of hype that is built regarding this song. Now the video is out and let's hope it does well. We have twelve new singers to put out every month.

Singers like Sonu Kakkar and Soumya Rao mainly work only with you.
I believe Sonu's talent has never been exploited. She is a fantastic singer with a different voice and I really feel that she deserves much more than she got after Babuji. It was my own song which gave her a break. But Yana Gupta took all the mileage. Nobody knew Sonu Kakkar. I think I made sure that through this song she gets her due. There's another video featuring Sonu Kakkar and a model. I have put them together in one frame. It's all about Sonu in that video. So she will get the necessary credit and due because every singer needs recognition. An actor gets credit for his work but those who make him a hit never get the same recognition. So, I have made sure that my singers get the recognition that is long overdue. She would have got much more if people knew that she was the face behind babuji, which was her first video.

We didn't hear much from you in Bollywood since Boom and Samay. Why didn't you do any Hindi films all this while?
When, I left the industry, songs were not very important for the film. Company was a very big hit. The songs did well but my director did not want songs. Ramu never did songs after that. Samay had one song which was a big hit. At that time, everyone wanted an item song and I was getting requests for specific kinds of songs. I am an artist and love to create music. I don't want to be told that someone wants a particular kind of music. We love to make music round the clock. I was so disheartened that I was only making songs for the promos. What about the efforts that goes into making the music? Nobody really cares. I could not really waste my music and time. I decided to go ahead and pursue what I always wanted to do. And that is working with great Jazz artists. While growing up, I never thought I would even be able to meet them. But today I am working with all of them! I am doing a couple of projects with them. It's like a dream come true!

How did the shift happen from Bollywood to South Indian films?
My friend Nagarjuna offered me a film down south. He said that he will give me the freedom to do what I want. I became a completely new Sandeep, approaching music again. The song was a huge hit. It was on all the Bollywood channels. It only showed that music has no barrier. Earlier too, I used to get a lot of offers. But I thought that there is no point in taking the same route again and have somebody pressurize me. Only actors' take the credit for the songs. I thought of making my own music. If it works and I succeed, I will make a single every month.

So you are not going to make a come back?
Why should I make a come back only through films. I am still going to make music. My second personal album after Mitti will release at the end of the year. I have a lot of commercial songs which I want to put out in the next year. Maybe I will release one song a month. But if this is successful then I'll have only one song with more versions of the same song. You will hear a lot of me now. I will do a movie only if I get a director who gives me total freedom.

You don't think that you get the freedom that you expect?
I don't want to be a part of a project which has three music directors working on the same film. I don't want anyone to tell me what to use and what not to use in my compositions. Now Sony is ready to support me and I am working on the music that I like.

Tell us about the formation of your music group.
I am a part of a group called AO along with my partner Jay Oliver. We are doing the music for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I am also working on a lot of projects with the Jazz people, who are a part of my jazz album. I am doing a huge project with Eddie Daniel. Then, I am in the middle of another fusion project with Jay Oliver. I am releasing a very brilliant artist by the name of Sanjay Chitale. He is a Classical singer and the album features eleven Jazz musicians and Sanjay Chitale. It is called American Pilgrimage.

Tell us something more about this fusion album 'American pilgrimage'.
It is a very unique sounding album. I cannot put it in any category because it has got a very new sound. It has my original compositions. There is a little bit of folk. It has very serious and non commercial music. Again, it's not an experiment that will go on to the world music category. It just has its own sound. We spent about two years making this album and now it's ready for release.

You have been a favorite with Ram Gopal Varma for quite some time. How was it working with him?
RGV is a fantastic human being. I did seven films with him. He is a delight to work with. You have a lot of freedom. He allows you to have your own view point and is ready to take your experimental work. And when it succeeds, you become a trend setter and everybody praises you for your work. It was great working with him. I think if you work with RGV, you are involved with every aspect of cinema. That's how most of us work with him. We were always talking about movies and music. But after Company, I had to take a break because RGV was not making music. He made Bhoot, which did not have any song. Then I went on to do my own projects.

Is working in the South any different from working in Bollywood?
There is a big difference in the South. Hero worship still exists there. They have giant posters of heroes. You can make a film and get away with it because they worship the heroes. It's not like Hindi cinema. All that hero worship doesn't exist here. Cinema has changed in a very big way. Now you need new scripts and ideas here. Music plays an important role in Bollywood.

Which music directors from the past have inspired you?
All my favorite music directors are not living any more. I love R D Burman, S D Burman and Madan Mohan. They have been inspirations to me apart from all the Jazz musicians.

You have worked with Sonu Nigam's sister, Nikita. Tell us something about her.
That family is super talented. All of them are unbelievable singers. His father is also an amazing singer. Sonu is phenomenal. Nikita's elder sister is also very good and Niki is someone I have worked with extensively. She is a perfect combination of a pop star. She is a very good looking girl and is also a very good dancer. She is just like her brother. I call her junior Sonu Nigam. She is very sharp and has a good grasping quality. I think if she sticks to playback singing, she will limit herself. She has all the potentials of becoming a star.

Which is the most unusual or rare musical instrument that you have used in your compositions?
I love to play the flute. I play the key boards and guitar. It's not rare but it's the instrument that I love to play. I'll never forget the time when I started learning music, years ago. My mother used to complain every night. I was so terrible that she would tell me to stop. I was so terrible that my dog used to bark! He could not sleep because of my terrible music.

Who is your favorite music director from the current lot?
I don't think anybody is the best as such, because everybody have their own moments. Himesh has come up with his own style. Rehman came up with Rang De Basanti. Vishal - Shekhar are doing something new and so is Pritam. There is a very different kind of music right now. It's all kinds of music working every where.

What do you think of Himesh Reshammiya, who is currently ruling the charts?
I think he is really good and it's high time that music directors also start featuring in the videos. Till now they were all in the background. Its time that they come to the foreground!

What do you think a music composer needs to do to make his music popular?
I think a composer needs to make good music that he believes in. Then he can only leave it to the public. You have to believe in your work rather than working from someone's point of view. If you believe its great music, then make it. Make it from your heart and market it well. After that all you can do it leave it to the public to decide. 

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