2011's Mere Brother Ki Dulhan changed that downward trend. Working with Ali Abbas Zaffar on his directorial debut, Sohail produced five crackerjack songs including the rock anthem Dhunki (Neha Bhasin), the soulful Isq Risk (Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) and my personal favorite Choomantar (Benny Dayal, Aditi Singh Sharma). Mere Brother Ki Dulhan - which starred Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif - was a huge hit and marked Sohail's arrival as an A-list music director.
Sohail's next big hit soundtrack was for Kabir Khan's spy-crossed lovers action movie Ek Tha Tiger. That movie had Salman Khan, set all kinds of records and earned Sohail his second hit platform.
So what are the songs for Gunday like? The movie is set in 1970s Kolkata. Ali Abbas, who has a great personal equation with Sohail, asked for the songs to be set in that era but have a contemporary feel. He wanted the songs to have attitude in the melody and singing. "I always work according to directors vision as he is the captain of the ship and knows what is best for the film. But at times [directors] do give me freedom to experiment" says Sohail.
All through the CD, Sohail maintains a certain level of muscular grittiness. You can hear it very obviously on the rousing Jashn-e-Ishqa, styled with classic rock guitar riffs. But you'll also hear it on the simmering Jiya (one of Sohail's favorites) which is built around the winning vocal burr of Arijit Singh. Sohail always uses interesting new singers. Shahid Mallya (who sang the awesome Kukkad from Student of the Year) gets a chance to showcase his soulful vocals on the crushing heartbreak ballad Saaiyaan.
Working with new singers is part of the plan to not get pegged with a certain style, says Sohail. "I take it as a compliment for a composer [to sound different on each CD]. It's always important to explore different genres, styles and sounds so it's a conscious effort from my side not to sound the same and may be that's the reason I work with new singers all the time."
With his career flying high right now, how does Sohail keep this kind of momentum going? "Hard work" he says. On Tune Maari Entriyaan, there is a line that goes: "Peechhe meri aashiqon ki, poori poori countriyan". That's going to happen to you soon, Sohail. Get ready!
Gunday opens in theaters on February 24th
Sohail connects with his fans on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sohailsen.official