Subhash Ghai becomes composer with 36 Farmhouse

Subhash Ghai explains a point to flautist Naveen Kumar and arranger Meghdeep Bose. Photo: Subhash Ghai.

Subhash Ghai, best known as a producer and director of blockbusters like Kalicharan, Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar and Khal Nayak as well as more cult films like Karz, Taal and Iqbalhas already experienced multi-faceted rounds.

After training as an actor at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), and debuting with a small role in Rajshri Productions’ Taqdir (1967), he interpreted the main roles and characters of a few films before becoming a writer with several stories. Veteran producer NN Sippy heard his narration from Kalicharan (1976) and told him that he would make the film on the condition that Ghai agree to direct it himself, as his narration had impressed him. From there began his sleeves as a writer-director, before launching his banner. Mukta Arts (named after his wife).

He officially becomes a producer with hero (1983), devotes himself to singing with Meri Jung (1985) and even became a publisher with By (1997). Known for a cavalcade of hits in the 70s, 80s and 90s that earned him the title “Showman”, he started as a lyricist for the title track of Saira Banu’s chat show. Duniya Ke Sitare in 1998 (with music by Jatin-Lalit) and also with the song Kabhi paa liya for Ghai’s own production Jogger’s Park (2003).

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Ghai has often said that he was closely involved in the music of the films he made (particularly with favorite composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal) and has now officially debuted as a film composer with his soon to be released production. 36 Farmfor which he composed and wrote all three songs, two of which were released on a Zee Music album.

Newsindiatimes.com spoke to the versatile veteran on a Sunday morning.

Q: Your two songs Mind your own business by Hariharan and Mohabbat by Sonu Nigam, have the right mix of melodious and contemporary. What prompted you to become a composer for 36 Farm rather than another movie?

A: I am constantly exploring myself, discovering myself. I would sit almost inactive at home throughout the lockdown and thought I should write poetry. I ended up writing some 64 poems. These poems gave me the satisfaction of having done something creative that day! There was not bend for them, no pressure and no competition, not even the commercial aspect that people should like! When friends heard them, they said I should release a compilation. I said, maybe, once I hit 100!

I was often approached by the government to make videos on various things like Green Revolution, Election Commission, Skill India and other social issues and I wrote the lyrics, composed them and directed the films. So when 36 Farm was designed from my story, I thought about the situations of the songs and felt that they didn’t need a heavyweight professional composer. It made things easier and I wouldn’t have to sit down with anyone on the songs. I wrote the appropriate lyrics and then composed, which I like to do, because the thought must come first.

Q: Did you learn music formally?

A: No, but I participated a lot in the songs of my films and I learned a lot from Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, AR Rahman and others. Thanks to them, I got to know some ragsLike Pahadifor example.

Q: The song Mind your own business has major influences from the LP’s tenor as well as Anand Bakshi, your favorite lyricist. The song, the crossed line (the bridge of the Antara back to mukhda) and instrumentation have all the flavors.

A truly. These are the universities where I learned the art of writing and composing. Grammar will definitely come into play. This song is filmed on Sanjay Mishra, who plays the father and a cook who gets greedy.

I had the great advantage of the enormous talents of my institute (Whistling Woods International) to come as musicians, arrangers and programmers. I would interact with them on Zoom. When Meghdeep Bose, my arranger, and Abhishek Bonthu, my programmer, were fired with my tracks, we decided to continue professionally. Mohabbat occurs during a crisis of romance. The third song, Happy Birthdayis sung by two great talents of FTII, Vaishnavi Shriram and Vishesh Jain.

When the songs were arranged, I chose almost all the instruments. I called Naveen Kumar, for example, for the flute.

Q: Mohabbat has a haunting hook and is very eye-catching.

A: I like to think it’s inspired by the kind of songs Shankar-Jaikishan would make.

Q: Did you also choose the singers?

A: I did. Meghdeep suggested a contemporary singer for Mind your own business, but I told him that his singing should satisfy me. He sang very well, but that was not what I wanted. So I called my friend Hariharan, who sang me many beautiful songs. Sonu Nigam recorded Mohabbat. Subhash Ghai, throughout his career, never responded to the market, only out of conviction. I introduced new singers (Anuradha Paudwal and Sukhwinder Singh among them) but took whoever is the right artist for a song.

Q: At the same time, given the kind of songs that are touring today, what about the prospects?

A: Today the songs are mostly guitar based, and I’m exploring, not introducing myself as a composer. What came out of it were the words and melodies that suited the situation.

Q: Will you make more movies, maybe a bigger one, after this and the success of your previous videos?

A: I don’t have a plan. I will continue to discover myself. I will write any song if given the situation or theme of a movie, scene or show.

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