Take their last few major releases for instance: Om Shanti Om, Tashan, De Taali and Bachna Ae Haseeno all contained a distinctive theme for each CD. The fact that between them they have successfully employed a variety of their own talents (composing, live shows, song writing, vocals) gives them a unique 360 view into the process of creating hits.
On the soundtrack for the new movie Dostana - one of this year's major releases - Vishal-Shekhar amp down the theatrics to create a smooth, sensuous clutch of songs.
Vishal Dadlani was cool enough to stop by the Drift and tell us all about it.
Aspi: Hey Vishal, thanks for stopping by the Drift and doing this with us. How's the leg doing now (given that you survived all that bouncing around on The Unforgettables)?
Vishal: The leg is outta action for a bit. Just got that much overdue surgery a few days ago, and it'll be about six weeks before I hit the studio again!
Aspi: Ok, how did you and Shekhar meet? Mwa-ha-ha, I'm just kidding, you don't have to answer that ghisa-pita question. You can put the gun away now
Vishal: Thanks, can't tell you how much I appreciate this! ;-)
Aspi: But I will ask you this: is there any specific fuel (food, drink, etc) that you keep handy in the studio to get through those long days?
Vishal: Chinese jasmine tea is a big booster for me! I do about four cups a day!
Aspi: Listening to Dostana, I got the feeling that you were creating the definitive Lite FM CD – it sounded breezy and reminded me of sunny days. Was there an underlying theme to the music or did each track evolve independently?
Vishal: I have to give all credit to [Dostana Director] Tarun [Mansukhani] . He's the guy who went all out to find a sound that, while commercial, was unique to him, and different from the well-established Dharma [Productions] sound!
He made us put in a lot of work (maybe 200-300 different tune options), and gave us a lot of space and patience. But, it was all worth it! He wanted the light, breezy vibe you feel when you hear it, but without losing sight of the fact that it's a huge commercial score!
Aspi: On Jaane Kyun there is a Vishal Dadlani who turns in a bravura vocal performance. That doesn't sound like you at all! Is there another Vishal Dadlani in the industry that I don't know about or is that you truly singing a personally game changing song?
Vishal: Well, I do a few voices you haven't even heard yet! ;-) Seriously, though, I was getting a little trapped into singing songs that were solely within the rocked-out style, and this was a big opportunity for me to do something different with my voice. I'm glad Tarun and Shekhar took a chance on me, and I'm glad people dig it!
Aspi: Vishal, who hires lyricists? Is it the director, the music director or it depends?
Vishal: Usually, we (music director/director) suggest their names, and the producer pays them.
Aspi: You've worked with Anvita [Dutt Guptan] before on Bachna Ae Haseeno and now here on a couple of tracks. Her lyrics seem to suit your music really well. What's the one thing you hope and pray for in a lyricist?
Vishal: The ability to understand that a music director's opinion is a somewhat valid one, and the patience and humility to sometimes change lyrics accordingly. That, and a new approach, a fresh insight. Easier said than done, believe me! And Anvita has it all!
Aspi: Do the actors always stop by to listen to the songs? And what kind of inputs do you get from them? Any specific inputs from John , Abhishek and Priyanka on this CD?
Vishal: Sometimes they do, but on this one, it was all Tarun, all the way. Nobody (except Karan [Johar] on a couple of occasions) heard a song till it was recorded! Luckily, everyone loved 'em!
Aspi: I think it's really cool that you have found a new way to use an old world voice like Saleem. I think Maa Da Laadla is one of the most unique club tracks of the year but I'm not convinced about those helium vocals. How did that song happen?
Vishal: It's a mad story. We were badly stuck on that song. It's a bit of a joke situation, and Tarun hadn't gone nuts over anything we'd done for it yet, so in a fit of frustration, Shekhar took a day off, and promised Tarun six options the next day.
He played them all to him, one by one, and Tarun kept bouncing them, until he played this one. The duck vocals were a bit of a joke, but Tarun just loved it, and so they stayed as they were!
Aspi: Could you walk us through the other tracks as well?
Jaane Kyun (Vishal Dadlani)
Vishal: Meant to reflect the spirit of the film, it's a song of friendship, of people getting to know one another, and starting to rely on one another. It's a beautiful emotion, but we had to express it in a new way, both sonically, as well as lyrically. I especially love the line 'dushman ke iraade, sachhe lagte hain'.
The song has a lot of shiny, happy energy, and is one of the few tunes in this film that was approved by Tarun in the first thirty seconds of hearing it! He also loved the expressions I'd done on the scratch, which is why he insisted that I sing it.
Desi Girl (Shankar Mahadevan , Sunidhi Chauhan )
Vishal: First up, I firmly believe that Indian women are the most magically beautiful women in the world! The root idea for this one was brought to us by our sound engineer Calvin [Vaz]. We were looking around for a hook for this particular situation, but hadn't really found anything. He came up with the idea "I like my girls Indian", or something like that. We rejected it outright as being cheesy, but then Tarun changed it to the concept of "desi girl", and suddenly, there was the song!
Between conception and recording, we made five scratches, and each time, Tarun wanted it faster, and higher, for more energy. So, by the time we finished, the song was pitched so high, that only Shankar could possibly have sung it. We called him, he came in and totally rocked it!
Shut Up & Bounce (Sunidhi Chauhan)
Vishal: This is a light hearted party-song, the intro for the film. it's shot in Miami, so there are lot's of hot girls everywhere, there's the super-hot Shilpa Shetty , and there's the ocean. Can't ask for more.
There's a sinister story behind this one too, though. Tarun the Tyrant kept "bouncing" options for it, until, as a reference to our predicament, Karan said "Maybe we should call the song 'Shut up and Bounce!'" I loved it, ran into the studio, and came up with a basic idea, which went thru many transmogrifications before eventually becoming what it is!
Khabar Nahi (Vishal, Shreya Ghoshal , Amanat Ali )
Vishal: We were stuck (again) for a love song that was simple and true, but yet new and not filmi at all. Anvita and I were brainstorming on the smoking-verandah outside our studio, and I asked her "what happens when you fall in love?" And then, answered the question with a phrase I use often, "You don't know which way is up!".
Then I translated that, came up with the first line. She took it from there, and made it magical! It was Tarun's idea to add the Sufi bit, as a stark contrast to the pop melody of the main song. Shekhar came up with that bit, and completed the song.
We both instantly though of Amanat as the perfect voice for that bit, and called him. We also tried Raja Hasan out, but that didn't gel. You still hear him the backing vocal track behing the first interlude, though.
Kuch Kam (Shaan )
Vishal: A song of loss, of loneliness. But, true to Tarun's nature, not expressed in an earth-shattering way. It's almost colloquial, almost casual. It's about how everything is a little less true without friends to share it with.
And, I think Shaan shows great maturity as a singer by restraining the innate joy you usually hear in his voice. This is the second time he's done this for us (Dastaan-e-OSO being the first). He's still learning and growing as an artiste, and as the person who did his first film song with him, I'm truly proud of the guy!
The rhythm on this song is programmed by Samrat Bharadwaj, along with our regular producer, Abhijeet Nalani. That combo is what made Jhankaar Beats happen, and I think that's one of the reasons why this song is very special to me.
Aspi: I wanted your thoughts on the following three new singers who I've grown quite fond of.
Vishal: Beautiful voice, great determination, will do great things! Her voice made Khuda Jaane even more special!
Vishal: Great singer, unique voice, will also achieve great things! Jogi Mahi was just a voice-test for her with us. We'll definitely do something big with her soon.
Vishal: We worked with her on Le jaa in the film Karam , and she's absolutely fantastic too! I hope this Junoon victory does big things for her.
Himani (stylistically) and Harshdeep (stylistically and sonically) will have to step out of the Richa Sharma mold, and find their own personal niches, though.
Just so you know, I love the fact that there are so many new singers around! It makes me happy too see so much talent all around. Shekhar and I wish we could do songs with all of them! And, maybe we will! ;-)
Aspi: Hey, will there be another Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar next year?
Vishal: Who knows. I mean the way SRGMP has bombed this year, maybe we just managed to escape the reality show melt-down! ;-)
Aspi: Final question: and it's mandatory on the Drift: can you fold a fitted bed sheet?
Vishal: Ummm.........sure. Why the hell not! I can do anything! ;-)
Aspi: Vishal, thanks again. Best wishes for much success with Dostana and beyond. Megan Diwani (you remember that Shekhar-Megan episode on SRGMP don't you?) sends her love. And just about everyone on the Drift wants you to know how much they love you (and Shekhar).
Vishal: Love you all right back, especially Meg, who we both dream about constantly! :-)
All links in the conversation inserted by me.
The Dostana CD is out now. The movie opens November 14, 2008.
Many thanks to Saniya Makker for the picture of Vishal-Shekhar at The Unforgettables
- Bella is glad Vishal was his usual funky self
- Megania khush hui
- j felt a thrill going up her leg and now loves the Bachna remix
- girlie girl misses V-S on SRGMP
- Mind Rush enjoys the playfulness
- VS fan notes that Vishal is the only celeb who can fold a fitted bed sheet
- Deep likes Inside the Music better than the Drift reviews
- meena is all set to give Dostana a listen
- V-S's music seems to be going downhill says Anon
- bollywoodjunkie loved Dostana and the making of
- maxdavinci appreciates V-S giving new singers big budget breaks
- musical is now loving jasmine green tea even more!
- Cinderella hasn't heard Dostana but can't wait for the weekend now
- Drift Memsaab asks: Vishal, how do you balance the professional, creative and personal?
- Shubhchintak proposes a music reality show for the music directors
- ADF loves BAH and Dostana - especially Maa Daa Ladlaa
- Vishal = coolness unlimited says Kanan
- j is in love with Vishal's first pic and envious of Priyanka's body
- Lin has become a fan of Shilpa Rao
- Sidekick hands out love to Vishal and does a mini-DOSTANA review
- Pappu has a request for V-S (its related to Amanat)
- Cinderella's favorite songs from the CD