If you know a sound engineer or anyone who works in a sound recording studio, you probably have an idea about their lifestyle. It is not your routine 9am-5pm or a graveyard shift. It is a 24 x 7, 365 days a year job. Nestled inside a room devoid of sunlight, these guys go about their work meticulously for hours. Once such quintessential Sound Recordist/Designer is Mr. Shadab Rayeen.
Shadab is known as the ‘365 days’ man in the industry. Be it a weekend, a festival or even a family function, Shadab has never turned down work.
“My festival is when I am in the studio working” smiles Shadab.
Having worked with almost the entire film industry, north or south, it is hard to imagine that the man has no formal education in the field. While working as an assistant, he would travel to different studios in his free time. He would probe and almost interrogate (as per him) the sound engineers to know how things should be done.
“I would call these people my books. I read the words they spoke to me and memorised them. What I am today is because of these gracious people” says Shadab humbly.
Shadab has been on the recording machines for some of the biggest hit songs in the past many years. Having worked multiple times with all the composers, it would be tough to pick out a favourite.
“For me all the composers with whom I have worked are my favourite. Every composer has his own identity and style. Collaborating with each of them makes you learn new things” says a diplomatically correct Shadab.
(Pic: Sonu Nigam with Shadab Rayeen)
Working with multiple composers at the same time means getting your head filled with ideas and inputs from all of them.
“I find it very challenging. When a composer gives me a song to work on, he already has an idea about how it should turn out. I have to achieve what is in his head. Every composer has a different thought process” states Shadab.
These ideas can be challenging, weird or even weirdly challenging at times. One such incident that happened with Shadab was when he was recording the song ‘Pungi’ from the movie Agent Vinod. The composer of the song Pritam wasn’t entirely satisfied with the output. He felt the song was complete but still incomplete. When Shadab asked him to be more elaborate on what is in his mind, Pritam started limping in the studio and asked him to make the rhythm sound exactly like how his limp sounded! After a long laugh, Shadab said
“I love his style of explaining because it is non-technical so I am able to connect to him in a layman way. He is technically brilliant though.”
Shadab has always considered himself lucky that the composers and other people involved have gone out of their way to accomadate him. Amit Trivedi shifted his entire work schedule to night timings as Shadab would be busy working in the day. Working with Trivedi is one of the biggest challenge that Shadab says he faces.
“For the movie ‘Lootera’ the music had to sound rustic and from the time period the movie was set in and yet had to appeal to the present generation. It is challenges like these that I go to the studio everyday for” smiles Shadab.
Even after have worked so closely with the composers, Shadab never gives his opinion about how a song should sound. He just asks them what they have in mind about how the song should sound. But he does give his inputs in a very cryptic manner.
“Songs are recorded by the recordists in the same studio but everything is designed later. While designing, I do teak cut reserve or add a lot of layers to help it sonically sound different or else all songs would sound the same. I silently add sounds or rhythm layers without informing them to make the song sound better” says Shadab with a naughty smile.
Ask him about his thoughts on recording and mixing, Shadab says
“Music mixing is music plus technical stuff so mathematics is involved. But mathematics should only be like a bed and whole thing should be music”.