Box Office India (BOI): Last year, four of Deepika Padukone’s movies earned Rs 600 crore plus. And during the last two years, 15 of your movies earned Rs 1,100 crore plus.
Pritam Chakraborty: (Cuts in) She is too good looking, na? I can’t compete with her! (Laughs)
BOI: How does it feel with the business your movies are doing?
Pritam: I did Love Aaj Kal and Desi Boyz with her but after I watched her in Cocktail, I got her number and called her. Deepika was something else in that film. She is a lovely person and a sweet person to work with. Good things should happen to good people.
Coming back to your question… How does it feel?
Well, there is no real answer. I guess I could say that I feel great.
Pritam: I wasn’t until someone told me my films had earned over Rs 1,000 crore. So I was, like, OK, but what does that mean? A musician doesn’t usually pay attention to a film’s business. I am often told in a yearly music countdown of 20 songs, I have been occupying 25 to 40 per cent of the songs. I still don’t know what that means.
But I feel a sense of responsibility when given a film, in that I have to support a film, and that’s not even about its business. It’s got more to do with the fact that I want people to like it. Everyone has to like the music I make. I don’t calculate ‘success’. Like my song should clock certain numbers in terms of digital downloads. It is not possible to calculate success and work.
BOI: Apart from the story, script and actor, music plays a very important role in Indian cinema.
Pritam: A film is shot over two years and in parts. Songs are also shot after large intervals. I get a feel of the entire album when I am mixing it, and I can tell whether it will work or not. That’s when the producer may ask me to add a song or change a song, change the hook or re-shoot a song. Sometimes they listen to me but usually they don’t. But I do that because I know music is very important.
First, music represents your film. It’s not only the songs but the overall packaging, how you present the film, and the order in which you promote the songs is equally important. Sometimes, good songs are wasted due to bad packaging. So if your film is good, it will run. Or even if the trailer is looking good and the feel and vibe of the song is good, it will run. But music definitely makes a difference of Rs 10-30 crore. OK, let’s not put a number to it. Let’s say it makes a difference of 15-20 per cent.
BOI: Do filmmakers acknowledge your contribution to the success of a film?
BOI: Also, do you get upset about filmmakers not taking your inputs while promoting their films?
Pritam: Promotions is producers’ job. I don’t get into that space. Yes I do get upset when my inputs are not taken while finalising the album. I make a lot of changes during finalisation of the albums. Filmmakers generally don’t accept changes at this stage. They think I get hyper as the release approaches. They believe I have separation anxiety. Yes, I admit I have a problem parting with things. What happens with filmmakers is they hear a song many times… while shooting, while approving a song or while editing. I may have recorded the shoot mix and given it to them but I have heard it way fewer times than they do. I don’t listen to the music once I have completed the shoot mix as I turn my attention to other work or another song.
So I come back as a fresh listener and I look at it as one consolidated album as the film release approaches. But directors have heard it so many times and they have got used to it so it’s difficult for them to accept any changes. This happens with mostly everyone. So I come back as a fresh listener. But they have heard it so many times and they have got used to it. This happens with everyone. For instance, I have just done a song for Kabir’s (Khan) film and the next one will be done perhaps after two months or so. The songs were spaced out releases in Dhoom 3 and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani too. So you do a song and after three months you do another song. And I look at it as one consolidated album as the film release approaches.
Pritam: Yes, I listen to it as the audience would but filmmakers put it down to commitment phobia. I get very jittery around the release ki arrey kya hone wala hai. Of course, I am not always right although I usually am.
BOI: Name a couple of directors who are open to your suggestions.
Pritam: Many of them are. Like Anurag (Basu) and Ayan (Mukerji). Anurag’s films are made on the editing table. He shoots and then cuts out portions; then he changes sequences by adding a different narration. So he is extremely flexible. Ayan is also extremely flexible.