Interview of the Week – Lalit Pandit, Music Composer

In the early 90s, action movies were the mainstay of Bollywood. Almost all the filmmakers were churning out movies on this theme which led to music getting lesser importance.

Sibling composer duo Jatin-Lalit, along with AR Rahman, are largely credited for reviving melodious music in the 90s. The brothers composed for some of the biggest musical successes of that decade and the 2000s, including ‘Yes Boss’, ‘Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Ghulam’, ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’, ‘Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha’, ‘Mohabbatein’ and many others. Jatin-Lalit separated professionally in 2006 but still kept composing music.

Lalit Pandit, the younger of the two recently released his first independent song, “Jaane Kidhar Le Jayein” and hopes to recreate their 90s magic through more independent releases.

For our Interview of the Week, we caught up with the composer to talk about his latest release, the changing work patterns over the decades, embracing technology while retaining old school techniques and more.

Since Jatin-Lalit made their debut in the early 90s, the Indian film music has witnessed a sea of change. The style, rhythms, recording techniques, taste of the audience have all undergone a shift. What is your take on this changing pattern and what are its positives?

If the older system still existed, working in the lock down would not have been possible. Earlier it was very difficult to book a studio, now one doesn’t need to book one. You can record a song in a small room and at your leisure. I recorded my new song in the comfort of my home with the help of technology. 

From recording in hardware to now in digital the entire system has changed. Earlier technology was used to aid the musicians with their instruments now the computer produces all the sounds required. So the sound has changed. But the difference in the sound of a ‘bansuri’ or any other instrument cannot be challenged by a machine. The best way to utilise digital technology is by marrying it with the instruments like I it did in the movie ‘Fanaa’.

We had programmed the sounds but also recorded live instruments. This results in quality output and also makes it sound like a film song. There has to be a difference between film music and non-film music.

How has the film maker’s approach changed towards recording music for his movie? Have the traditional ‘sittings’ completely vanished now?

There is a lot of interference in composing and recording music now. The music labels want their signed artists to be featured in the songs. They even select the songs, the director has no say most of the time. This makes working more complicated and can even lead to sub-standard output.

Some songs seem misfit in the movie as the director’s vision has not been followed. Back in the day, the director would organise a ‘sitting session’ involving the music composer, lyricist, singers, senior musicians and even the actors to explain his requirements and also the situation of the song in the movie.

For ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, Jatin-Lalit as composers had numerous sessions with Anand Bakshi the lyricist and Aditya Chopra, the movie’s director. In fact Aditya was present at all the recordings. These efforts can result in what is called as ‘cult music’. A song like ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’ from Dabangg will be a huge hit but only for the time being, it cannot become a ‘cult song’.

The music of movies like ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, etc was an effort of many brainstorming sessions. Everyone involved was passionate about the work at hand. This passion is missing now and technology has a role to play in this to an extent. Now a composer is more often than not just given a sheet of lyrics and told to compose a song around it.

All of the Jatin-Lalit songs were known not only for music but also the lyrics. You were as actively involved in the words as you were with the composition. With the current trend of songs getting shorter in length, is it possible to recreate the same magic?

Absolutely possible. But for that the composers should be given a free hand along with a decent budget. When it comes to lyrics, the talented is sadly very limited now. It is what I term as ‘time pass lyrics’. Jatin-Lalit had the pleasure of discussing ideas with some of the best lyricists like Anand Bakshi, Javed Akhtar, Indeevar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Gulzar and other legends. There is hardly any great talent like them anymore.

Re-Mixes or Re-Creations, as they are termed now, have attracted a sizable audience. Is this trend a flash in the pan or it is the way ahead?

This trend is a result of desperation. It is a short cut to monetary success by just re-creating an older hit song. But it requires talent too. To re-create an already hit song can be tricky as one has to make it sound good while keeping the current music trend in mind. Along with this, there are many other ‘contributors’ while composing whom the composer has to pay heed to.

The Indian independent music scene has been thriving since some time now. Many prominent playback singers are now releasing independent music and some have even launched their own labels. You have recently released your first independent song, “Jaane Kidhar Le Jayein”, tell us more about it and also your upcoming plans.

The good part is that the independent music scene is producing some amazing music. This is because the creators are working hassle free and pursuing their passion. They are producing music which they like and it is evident in the output.

Similarly, I too was keen to compose and produce music that I like. It is not always possible to create music according to your liking for a film. I have always followed different genres so there were many ideas in my head.

“Jaane Kidhar Le Jayein” is my attempt to give the audience a clean, melodious with simple orchestration song. It is composed, penned and sung by me not a film. The experience was very different as I had all the liberty. I will definitely create more non-film music but will also continue to compose for films.

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