Establishing yourself as a composer is tough mainly because the domain has been pretty much divided into camps. The good news is things are changing and there’s new talent making us sit up and take notice. Mannan Shah is one of them. Mannan’s recent album Commando rocked the charts, especially the Saawan Bairi number, which became a superhit track. Shah is also related to Vipul Shah, producer of Commando, but it was on pure merit that Shah landed the break to go solo as a composer.
I knew I had a talent for music since I was a kid and wanted to make a career in it. I have been into music since I was five years old and have been studying Indian classical music for the last 15 years.
I started my career as a singer, actually, in a film called Kucch Luv Jaisaa. Pritam was the composer in that film, where I sang Badal Pe Paaon and Thoda Sa Pyaar. The response was nothing great but I always knew I wanted to become a music composer.
Experience With Pritam
While I was singing, I was also assisting Pritam as a composer. He was very supportive. It is very important to learn to manage things, especially the technical aspect, which I came to grips with while assisting. Second, as a composer, you have to manage just not melody, you also have to look into music production, song recording, manage musicians and so on.
While assisting Pritam, I also created my own music and made a bank for my work. So I asked Vipul sir if he would listen to a few of my compositions. When he and Dilip Ghosh heard my songs, they liked them a lot. Vipul Shah is one of those producers who looks for talent and with Commando, he launched many newcomers, from actors to composers to costume designers.
On Commando’s Music
I have used live musicians for my film, which is rare these days. But I was determined to create music that was different. Commando was an action film but romance was also a major part of the movie. So we had to fix the songs in the romantic situations and director Dilip Ghosh chose Punjabi tracks, which I guess worked in our favour.
Secondly, I largely used Indian instruments. For example, in Saawan Bairi, there is a free flow of the sarangi, flute and other Indian instruments. We used musicians who play at live shows. I believe live music brings more melody to a song. I am receiving great reviews for Saawan Bairi and Loot Jawaan, which became hits from day one.
I guess O lena-dena was the toughest song for me because it changes its nature to blend with the main song. To get live instruments including some African instruments like the ‘duduk’ added a live element, which made it very interesting.
I have started work on Commando 2. There are also a few more projects in the pipeline but I will let the producers announce them.