By Jyothi Venkatesh
When I met him recently for this exclusive interview, reiterating that melody has always been the king, Anand Raaj Anand says that earlier, it would be a simple arrangement with local musicians but now, inspiration is coming from various sources – from Korea to Punjab, and, of course, the internet.
“Earlier, we would meet, talk, discuss but now, everything is done via mail. There was comfort and harmony in a group and it was much easier for the composer. Then, there would be a single composer for one film but now the trend is to have many lyricists and composers creating a mess and affecting the team spirit. Earlier, songs had to be soulful, now we have item numbers, hook lines, and catch lines and ringtones. But technological changes aside; ultimately it is the melody that still works for any song”.
Anand Raaj Anand adds. “If Amrish Puri was signed and Shatrughan Sinha was not considered for roles, it does not at all mean that Shatrughan Sinha was bad as an actor. I have not retired from composing music but confess that I am just not in the execution zone like earlier. I consider my so-called period of exile from composing as the best period because I could record 2000 songs. I decided to lie low for around six years as talented new composers had come to the fore and spent most of the time in mountains and rivers and now I have decided to strike back as a music composer all over once again.”
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Anand confesses that way back in 1984, he had actually thought of becoming a professional and even did his studies in civil engineering. “I have always been very fond of singing as I was inspired by the late Mohammad Rafi but also knew that I did not have my own individual identity as a singer. I started making songs and decided to come down to Mumbai to sing songs as my main aim was to emerge as a playback singer on my own merit. My first song – ‘Chhota Bacha Jaanke’ became a hit”.
Anand Raaj Anand is happy that right at the outset, with his kind of sound, he could easily become a trendsetter. “My first song – ‘Chhota Bacha Jaanke’ became a hit. Kaante had Punjabi and Sufi elements. At that time, music directors like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar and Pritam, who were composing for ad films, found this new sound irresistible. They followed and we had more such music. Vishal-Shekhar’s ‘O Saaki Saaki’ in ‘Musafir’ was close to ‘Ishq Samander’ and ‘Zindagi Mein Kabhi Koi’ from ‘Kaante’. And it has remained a trend”.
Anand adds that he did not at all have the greed to write and sing his songs and like Nadeem- Shrawan did with Sameer or for that matter Shankar Jaikishen did with Shailendra or Lakshmikant-Pyarelal and Anand Bakshi, unfortunately I could not get the right jodi as a lyricist and I wrote lyrics because first I think of the lyrics and also have read a lot of books. It is not at all easy to survive as a music director and I am glad that I have done whatever I have done till today as a music director, in spite of the fact that out of the population of eight crore, only eight have been successful as music directors in India till today.”
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Recalling his career as a music director, Anand says that he started with Masoom and Majorsaab followed in two months. The film Krishna with the song Jhanjharia was also there. Anand confesses that he considers himself to be an intruder in the industry since he breezed in on the scene when Nadeem-Shrawan and Adesh Shrivastav were right at the top. “I could easily get the right break at that time though today YouTube has made life easier for strugglers whether they are singers or music directors. I never worked with Venus or T Series, because I was happy with the work I was getting from Time. I did around 80 to 90 films and when the music company Time was inundating me with work, tell me why should I seek offers from other music companies”?
Anand adds that he liked the voices of Udit Narayan for outdoor songs and Sonu Nigam for indoor songs at a time when people were so used to Kishore Kumar and did not want to hear the voices of other singers. Anand says that though Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal are modern and authentic, today no new singer is in a mood to sing for films or struggle only because of Youtube and hence he feels that aaj badlao nahi aaya but vikas aaya hai and today it is aao, gao, khao. If a song is just about average, you tend to remember it less but if a song clicks, you tend to remember it for life. Today the soul in a song is becoming less and so is the song. In Pathan you had only two songs.”
Anand confesses that he considers his bad luck that he could not work with Yash Chopra or Subhah Ghai because he was too busy with a lot of films on his hands and didn’t have the time to pitch his songs to them especially since he thought that a bird in hand was better than one in the bush. I also was not a strategic planner and even did not have a manager. After one film is over, my next will be in my hands. Initially, I had luck but no time but now I have both luck and time and what’s more, I am also experienced. My last film was Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana and right now I am having the sequels of films like Hera Pheri, Awara Paagal Deewana and Welcome Back.”
Anand signs off wistfully. “I wish I had good relations with the media and had kept personal relations with big stars. Perhaps, then, I would have got the chance to compose music for Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan’s films like most of the composers today have done. I didn’t lobby with the Khans. There was no star support or big banners for me. But now, I hope my second innings is more eventful. Now I would like to be armed with strategies rather than emotions. With my previous experience and also the understanding of music at the current global level, I am for sure reloaded and have the same excitement to execute music”.