Pritam: Extremely! I think directors are the biggest collaborators. I have worked on 100-odd films and I work best with musical directors because they see the music with the visuals. I may argue with them but, at the end of the day, it’s their vision that is important. Lyrics are a weak point for me because I am not well versed with the language. I depend a lot on the directors to accept the lyrics in a film. I react to the phonetics only. Ultimately, the meaning, the content, what the lyrics should be is the director’s call. Sometimes along with the directors the creative producers are extremely important. For example Adi (Aditya Chorpa) decides the entire music of a film. Though in Dhoom 3, it was Victor and Adi who both showed equal interest. Mukeshji (Bhatt) and Bhatt saab (Mahesh Bhatt) are the deciding factors of music of Vishesh Films, Dinu (Dinesh Vijan) is a huge participant in the music of Illumianti, Jayu (Jay Shevakaramani) decides music of Tips off late and of course Bhushan Kumar takes a call on all T-Series productions and sometimes when he acquires music.
BOI: You had once said that you are not very lucky with sequels. Has that changed with Dhoom: 3?
Pritam: When people talk about Dhoom: 3, they are usually referring to the box-office figures. But I feel that in a sequel, there is pressure to deliver even better music. Either the pressure creates a problem or you feel the prequel was so big that the sequel will definitely live up to its name. So you land up taking it for granted which is not good.
Pritam: Yes, I will complete a decade in August. The journey has been extremely good. Good and bad, actually it’s been bitter-sweet, but more sweet than bitter.
BOI: There have been times when you have worked on more than 10 films in the same year…
Pritam: (Cuts in) Yes, my highest number is 14 or 15 films in a year! I think that was in 2010.
BOI: Isn’t that creatively exhausting?
Pritam: Yes, it does take a toll. And you can’t spend time on a project for as long as you want to and then you don’t have time for your personal life. Working on more projects has it’s pros and cons.
Music is a very spontaneous art, so even if I am doing 14 projects on the go, I would rely on my spontaneity only then it works. If I spend too much time thinking about the music, it might affect the music.
Time is a very stretchable thing. You tend to add and change things when you have time thus spoiling the spontaneity of the song. It’s all about trying to create a balance. The type of films you do is also all about creating a balance.
I do films like Barfi! and R… Rajkumar. A Barfi! would give me crticial acclaim and a R… Rajkumar would be cut across the acceptance of a range of people. When I perform for a show, I need songs where the crowd would want to get up and dance too.
So I have to create a balance between the kind of films I choose to do.
I need to get films like Barfi! also because that gives me creative a high and R…Rajkumar to produce massy hits. A hit song also gives you a high. Actually there’s no bigger high than a hit song. When I did Dhoom, after its release, I was travelling a lot and heard the songs in every corner. The Dhoom tune was playing in trucks, caller tunes, everywhere. That high was something else. It is a bigger high than getting four and a half stars. (Laughs)
Pritam: Of course!
BOI: How much does it bother you?
Pritam: A lot of reviewers write nonsense but I try and look for feedback. If you don’t accept feedback, hide away in your cocoon and think you’re the best, that does not help you at all. If a reviewer genuinely has something important to say, I keep that in mind the next time I compose. But I must add that I always try and be true to the film. Whenever I have not been true to a film, I have gone wrong.
Like there was this song in R…Rajkumar called Dhokadhadi. I was convinced the song was the best fit for the film. But Prabhu Dheva did not want the song. Gandi baat was approved in one go. I felt that since Prabhu Dheva likes a certain groove, he would like such songs so I played Sari ke fall sa, which was again approved in one go.
When that happened, I panicked as the album was going into fultoo massy mood and I wanted to balance it. I tried to tell him that this song is very nice. He kept saying, ‘No, this is a pure romantic song, it doesn’t go well with my film.’ And I kept arguing. I finally took the producer’s help. I told Viki Rajani. It is a nice song. If you look at it separately, it is a very good song.’ But in a R… Rajkumar space, it was not true to the film. It just did not work because he, as the director did not feel the energy to shoot that song with the energy he shot Sari ke fall sa or Gandi baat.
BOI: Has your opinion ever clashed with the wavelength of the director, resulting in you walking out of a film?
Pritam: I have often kept quiet and lost interest in a project. I don’t do that anymore. I fight. Earlier, I used to complete the project, regardless of what happened. Now I don’t feel I need to do it so I walk out.