Composers Sachin Sanghvi and Jigar Suraiya, popularly known in Bollywood as Sachin-Jigar, speak to Bulbul Sharma about making music for Hindi films and their upcoming single.
Q. After your big break with F.A.L.T.U in 2011, you have composed a variety of songs that range from romantic numbers to party anthems. How has your journey been since then?
Jigar: I think we are way too young to have accomplished anything yet. We are still in the process of figuring out our self-actualisation process. I guess when we have completed over 4-5 decades in the business, we would have more insight into the secret recipe. I feel today people get caught up in how many “likes” we have on social media or how influential your inner circle is or how many fan pages exist. We feel like we have to justify our pursuit of art with these measures in order for it to not be a waste of time. The pursuit of music isn’t just the pursuit of fame or money or success. It’s way bigger than that. The pursuit of music can be a pursuit of self-actualisation—if you let it. Each act of creation can be a channeling of the universal truth of nature. Each practice session can be a prayer to your higher self. Every performance can be a transmission of that higher self in communication with the higher selves of others. Every failure is a chance to do better. Every achievement is a taste of ecstasy.
Q. What is your creative process like? And does it still seem a challenge to come up with a fresh melody each time?
Jigar: You see everyone is so busy being part of the rat race that sometimes you forget the race is neve-ending, and there are many rats already in the queue. Music is our passion and profession, and hence we are satisfied every single day. Since we hail from a theatre background, I think that helps us to imagine a given song and its situation, and how it will fuse with the scene. We don’t believe in typecasts. Our music is quite universal in that sense. Genres are meant for those who like to limit their creativity. Experimentation is the key and Bollywood demands way too much than one particular style. The only pressure we have is to deliver good music. The key goal always is to make the audience fall in love with your music and that happens when you’re constantly reinventing and producing a fresh perspective. We like to surprise our audiences and not blend into the whole popular music segment. You will always notice that each of our songs is different from the other. But the only connecting element is emotions, our music is all about the soul. If you execute music with all your dedication , I don’t think finding an audience is difficult.
Q. In what way, according to you, has Hindi film music changed ever since you started out eight years back?
Jigar: Audiences today aren’t well informed about good music, and hence due to limited knowledge and exposure, want just Punjabi rap or dance music. As composers we need to cater to the producers’ demands, so we then include hook lines that reflect this trend in some way. We don’t think we can now stay on one song or that one tune or that one melody for too long now. So much entertainment is being churned out that we wonder how the listener picks one favourite with so much choice. Today’s music lacks melody. However, films represent the times we live in and today’s generation wants to dance. Music is not only confined to those who seek soulful melodies as they form just one segment of the listeners. Why are singers in India not as big as their Western counterparts? That’s a question everyone needs to ask. Half of the films have run-of-the-mill songs, which will probably work for 15 days and then play at weddings. We call it popcorn music. I am not against it, but I am saying that we are undergoing a transition phase. This will probably last another two years until the album culture returns.
Q. How do you complement each other’s style of music? And what happens when you have a difference of opinion?
Sachin: The very crux of our combination is that we are two drastically different people, we listen to different music, we like doing different things vocationally, we hang out with different people. Yes, we are more than a family now, yes we are brothers not by blood but by belief, but we are different people and I think that amalgamation is what makes Sachin-Jigar’s music. We totally believe in the contrast effect and we totally respect our differences. I would never walk up to Jigar and urge him to think the way I do, I would rather have him think the way he does because this isn’t about us personally, it’s about the music and its success.
Q. Do you experience real creative freedom when you are making music for films? Since in films, directors or producers usually have their own set of requirements and songs are situational too.
Sachin: When you compose music for a film you are supposed to cater to the script and we don’t have 20 songs waiting in our bouquet for getting selected, so we really compose fresh songs for every script and that is why we abide by the script and its requirements. Also we are directors’ boys, we love their belief, in fact their belief perhaps defines creative freedom for us. When they say to us: “This is the situation and we are looking for something like this; but now you give me your take on it, you do it your way.” I think that’s what creative freedom is when it comes to composing for films. And if you are composing singles, then there’s no such brief. But at the same time composing for films is great fun, to be able to deliver different types of scripts, for different types of characters, different types of situations or let’s say the same situation in two different setups—it’s pretty challenging. And I love it!
Q. What were your musical influences as you were growing up?
Sachin: I come from the classical background and Jigar comes from a sort of Western orientation. So, from the outside our influences have been different. I was listening to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar Ji ,Rashid Ali Khan Sahab, A.R Rahman Sir and Lucky Ali, while Jigar was listening to Backstreet Boys and MLTR. But now if you ask us, there has been a great rub-off and he listens to Kishori Amonkar while I listen to John Mayer. So now those lines are blurred. But early on, our influences were very different.
Q. How would define your style of music?
Sachin: Honestly, we don’t belong to a certain style, and that is why Bollywood is Bollywood because I think anything can be Bollywood, anything palatable can be Bollywood. That is why I don’t think that as a Bollywood music composer you belong to certain style… Basically we can’t commit to one style and say this is our style, and you can’t really afford that when it comes to Bollywood. But yes, sometime soon you will hear our first single. We’ll announce it by the end of this year and perhaps we are also trying our best to put it out by year end. I think once we put out 3-4 singles, then we should be able to answer this question better.
Q. What according to you has been the turning point in your career?
Sachin: Most certainly meeting Vashu [Bhagnani], Sameer [Sharma] and Remo [D’Souza] for F.A.L.T.U was a turning point in our career. I think also the fact that our mentor, Pritam Sir, gave us the courage and a year before F.A.L.T.U happened he really pushed us saying, “You know, you guys have it in you, you are arrangers but very few arrangers have the ability to compose and if you have it in you, you gotta jump and take that leap of faith.”
Jigar: Adding to that, today or 20 years down the line there is no shortcut to success, there is no replacing learning and practice for any art form, let alone music. The world is shrinking while the digital universe is getting bigger. When you are seeing and listening to the global talent and their level of excellence, local artistes feel the need to be on an equal footing. Practice and learning are both indispensable. There is no end to how much you can learn on the job, too. We still consider ourselves as amateurs who want to keep falling and getting up and coming out stronger.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming projects?
Sachin: First up, we have Arjun Patiala that’s slated for release next year. We also have the Go Goa Gone sequel coming up and we are super excited about that.We are also working with Remo Sir for his next dance film. We have also heard a couple of more scripts. And I think we’ll pick one out of those two and that will make up for the four films that will release next year. A lot of music’s coming your way.