With the music of Sanam Re topping the charts, we go behind the scenes with the film’s composers Jeet Gannguli, Amaal Mallik and Mithoon, and lyricists Manoj Muntashir, Kumaar, Manoj Yadav, and Rashmi & Viraj
Melody Man – Jeet Gannguli
I have two songs in Sanam Re – Tum bin and Chotte chotte tamashe. One day, Bhushanji called and said, “I want to give you a song, Tum bin, the title track of the film Tum Bin. Since you are good with melody, I want you to make it more historically melodic. Can you do that?” I said, why not? I composed the track in 10 minutes in front of Bhushanji and he liked it! The notes of the song are based on bageshri raga. For lyrics, we kept the same two lines of the original song and for the rest, we got Rashmi and Viraj on board to write the antara and mukhda. Once the track was composed, we showed it to Divyaji and she too liked it.
When I was told to compose Tum bin, I wanted to do it my way. I didn’t want to follow the old Tum Bin style, so I orchestrated the song in such a way that the entire song follows today’s sounds. I wanted to create passionate music with a long shelf life. This song has the ability to stay relevant for 20 years. Music directors can take the industry forward only when they take up challenges. After finalising the song and the composition, I wanted Shreya to sing it. I spoke to Divyaji and we got Shreya. I was so impressed, she is a very mature singer. While dubbing, she started crying as the song captures so many emotions.
Chotte chotte tamashe was very challenging for me because Divyaji was looking for a ‘50s-‘60s melody as it comes as a flashback and is filmed on Rishi Kapoor, who plays a grandfather in Sanam Re. The challenge was to mirror the loving yet mischievous relationship between a grandfather and his grandkids. I was sure about getting Shaan to sing this song because he has the power to introduce a jovial texture to a song. He has a knack of balancing the melodious yet playful tone of the track.
I am grateful to Bhushan and Divya for having given me these two songs. They have created magical moments in the song sequences, not only with picturisation but also with orchestration.
Three Cheers – Amaal Mallik
Sanam Re is my first film with T-Series, where I am leading the album and have been given the maximum number of songs to compose. I was given an opportunity to compose three songs and that showed Bhushan Kumar sir’s trust in me and my music. I have tried my best to deliver three very different songs. The title track composed by Mithoon sir is beautiful and I believe that the whole album works if the first song of the film catches on. Since his song became the rage, it helped my songs Gazab ka hai yeh din, Hua hai aaj pehli baar and Kya tujhe ab ye dil bataye.
My biggest challenge was that Divya Khosla Kumar had a super hit album with her first film Yaariyan, so her second film posed a challenge for her in terms of music. She was a tad sceptical when I met her because I am the youngest composer at T-Series. Bhushan sir was by my side throughout and he said to Divyaji, ‘I know he is young but just listen to him and see what you can get out of him.’ After I managed to do Gazab ka din, she grew comfortable with my work.
To compose Gazab ka hai yeh din, Divya ma’am showed me some shots of Alberta, Canada. I looked at those reference videos and came up with this song. It is a journey song. For this track, I got Arijit, who was very happy with it and thanked me because generally people offer him romantic songs. I have been friends with Arijit from the time I was assisting and nothing has changed. Today too, I compose eight to 10 tracks and let him choose. I have that kind of relationship only with my dad and my brother.
I thought of doing something different with Armaan’s song, Hua hai aaj pehle baar. It was also my tribute to the singers of the ‘90s. The song rides on a very simple tune and has Indian musical arrangements. Also, this was my toughest song in the film as I had to find a voice that would suit Pulkit Samrat. I strongly believe that the sound of a singer should suit the actor in the film even though that doesn’t happen nowadays. I have worked the longest on the lyrics for this song with Manoj Yadav, who gave me around 15 drafts because even he wanted to make sure that it stayed true to the ‘90s.
The track Kya tujhe ab ye dil bataye is very melodious. In fact, it is my ode to the style of Mithoon, Ankit and Arijit. This song is full of melancholy and separation, and I did an interactive composition for this track. Falak and I had jamming sessions for eight to 10 hours and we would toss ideas around, so we made this song together. I decided on Falak Shabbir as I had heard his song Mera mann from Nautanki Saala and I was awestruck. I called Bhushanji since Falak was a T-Series artiste as well. It was experimental and everyone wanted Armaan, Arijit or Ankit to sing it but Bhushanji and I chose Falak. I think his voice has an altogether different texture and he has taken my song to another level. The song just got better with Muntashir’s lyrics.
Old Charms – Mithoon
I had worked with Divya for my album Tuhi Mere Rab Ki Tarha Hai in 2009 and I had also composed the track, Barish, for her film Yaariyan. When she was working on Sanam Re, she called me at the conceptualising stage and said she was working on an epic love story and wanted me to contribute to the film’s soundtrack. Divya and I share a great rapport and she appreciates my music a lot. I instinctively understand her thought process.
The first thing we wanted to crack was the title track. Divya had a few working titles in mind, which she gave me to compose. I worked on those options but they weren’t flowing naturally, so I gave it some breathing space. Simultaneously, I was working on a romantic song, which I played for Divyaji and Bhushanji and they liked it beyond my expectations. Next week, Bhushanji called me to say they had got their title track. I was, like, “Okay, what is it?” And he said, “It is your song Sanam re and that it is the also name of the film now.”
The track Tere liye was written and composed by me and it is a slightly melancholic expression of the film. The film is an eternal love story and it has all the seasons of love, and like any other love story, it goes through spells of bloom and dryness as well. The song tries to capture the thought that no story is perfect and all you have to do is stay committed.
I spent a lot of time on my songs. Sometimes, a melody comes to me instantly and sometimes it takes a month. My music has a signature style and is heavily influenced by old-school music, and I believe that classic cinema should be carried forward by our generation. The work of musical greats like Lata (Mangeshkar), Asha (Bhosle), Madan Mohan and RD Burman should not forgotten. So, that old charm is there in every song of mine and I have done the same for Sanam Re.
Big Shot Song – Manoj Muntashir
T-Series is like family and I owe a lot of that to Bhushan Kumar for trusting me. When Bhushanji called me for Sanam Re, I knew that whatever I was going to write would be presented in a big way.
We are a great team; we have around 20 upcoming songs together. I have three songs in the film, two of which are with Amaal Mallik while my third song is with Jeet Gannguli. He wrote the composition and I wrote the lyrics. I love this kind of approach because a lyrics writer is limited to five meter; he can’t think of six or seven meter because that only happens when a composer creates the music first.
When I was making Gazab ka hai din with Amaal, Bhushanji said that he wanted a completely happy song. Now, generally, every song has two antaras but I wrote three for this song. I read it out to Bhushanji and Amaal, after which Bhushanji said he wanted only two antaras but that the third was good as well. I asked him to take a decision on which two antaras he wanted to use. Then, Bhushanji came up with an idea to turn the third antara into a song. Eventually, the last antara became the superhit single Zindagi aa raha hoon main.
The brief for Kya tujhe ab yeh dil bataye was that it should apply to being possessive about someone. Divyaji said it is when you don’t want to be with yourself and you want to be with someone else. I picked the line from that brief… ke mere andar khud ko bhar de, mujko mujhse khali karde. We keep doing various songs but I believe that this is the big shot song for me because there are very few tunes that give you the liberty to express yourself in the most heart-wrenching manner. Lyrically this song gives me immense satisfaction.
For Chote chote tamashe, Divyaji used to keep telling me that yeh sab na choti choti batein hai.. choti choti bataon mein kitna maza hota hai. I just picked the line Chote chote tamashe. As a lyrics writer, I am not trying to get something that is radically different; it has to come from the universe that my director has built.
Party Time – Kumaar
I go a back a long way with T Series. They are one of those rare people who look for talent. Usually, people work more with composers but with Bhushanji, that’s not the case. He has been working in the music industry for decades and that’s why his ear for music is unbeatable. By merely listening to lyrics, he can tell what will catch on and what will not. Collaborating with Ikka for Humne pee rakhi hai was a pleasure. He can make a tune catchy in an instant.
Creative Freedom – Manoj Yadav
Hua hai aaj pehli baar is a romantic song and the situation is very simple, it’s about a boy who is trying to woo this girl who doesn’t trust him. We already had the first line of the song and Amaal had composed a tune based on that line. Bhushanji loved the composition, so I completed the track in the mukhda, where he defines his eligibility as a true lover. There was a lot of back and forth that took place as Amaal had made the composition but, sometimes, when you make a melody, the thought feels right but it doesn’t come across while singing. There was lot of brainstorming because when I used to mail Amaal something I thought made sense, at other times some better thought would come up. Now when I listen to the song, I feel that I couldn’t have written better lyrics. I am satisfied to know that whatever I have written goes along with the film’s situation. I have always tried to write about strong emotions but in a simple way.
T-Series gave me free hand to write. I am glad they trusted me for this song. This was my first song with Amaal and he has a good understanding of music. He is always clear about what he wants and very positive about suggestions.
Keeping It Simple – Rashmi & Viraj
It all started with Bhushanji coming up with an idea to recreate the iconic song Tum bin. Divyaji wanted to show loss of love in the simplest possible words and she wanted it to be melodious with just a hint of the original song. So Jeet and I and created this track together. The biggest challenge was that Divyaji wanted the antaras to be more beautiful than the mukhdas and she also wanted the screenplay in the song.
We are among of the few lyricists who can write screenplay into a song. The only challenge was that it shouldn’t sound like the original so we didn’t use the same words. The only similar words are ‘Tum bin jiya jaye kaise’ and that too was because Bhushanji wanted to retain that line. He guides you in a way that brings out what he wants out of a song. It’s the same with Divyaji. Everything is crystal clear, which makes our job easy. Bhushanji is a rockstar he understands music and knows the pulse of the Indian audience. He is not one for commercialising music. He is always, like, first give me lyrics because in India, people listen to songs; then give music as the audience feels the song too.
My equation with Jeet Gannguli is superb because all our song are super hits, whether Muskurane ki wajah or Khamoshiyan and also Hamari adhuri kahani. It has been a beautiful combination as we have been working together for a long time.