Darbar's epic success

In conversation

Darbar's epic success

Fourteen years ago, after years of playing the violin, Ismail Darbar exploded on the Bollywood scene as a composer on a wave of Gujarati folk music with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999).

The film won him a National Award and every year revellers still dance to the tunes of Dholi taron dhol baaje and Nimbooda nimooda at raas-garbas. Three years later, Bhansali’s adaptation of Devdas (2002) tapped into Darbar’s classical music base with songs like Baire piya and Kaahe chhed mohe. A decade later, they continue to echo in our memory bank.

After that however, with the exception Subhash Ghai’s period drama, Kisna — The Warrior Poet (2005), an Indo-Western fusion album, in which he shared the credits with A R Rahman who was too busy with his international film Lord of the Rings to compose all the tracks, Darbar hasn’t been in the playlists. But this year he’s looking to court success again with two mega projects.

One of them is Ghai’s Kaachi that will introduce a new Bengali actress Mishti. He promises that the five melodies that he’s recorded for the film are as sweet as her name. Darbar is particularly excited about a daaru ka gaana (song sung in high spirits) that gave him a little trouble because it’s an item number. “Today, every other film has one of them, but I want this one to stand out from the crowd, like Bunty Aur Babli’s ‘Kajra re’ or Devdas’s ‘Maar daala’ that live on even today,” he asserts.

The other project is a televised adaptation of the Mahabharat that is gearing up to air on Star Plus. The music director admits that for years it has been his dream to score music for the great Indian epic. And when the offer came his first reaction was, “Forget the remuneration, the requirement is great music that will do justice to the Mahabharat.”

Darbar has already composed 13 music pieces for the TV show, including one for a war sequence, and says that if time permits, he will give more pieces to his favourite subject. He just hopes that producer Siddharth Tewary will agree to his request of getting classical vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan on board to sing the title track that will set the tone for the show.

“Ustad Rashid Khan is India’s sabse bada (greatest) singer. He sung ‘Kahe ujare mori neend’ for me in Kisna and he was absolutely captivating. If we can get him, yeh Mahabharat yaadgaar ban jayegi (this Mahabarat will become memorable),” he points out.

There is another film, Guru Dakshina that he is looking forward. The film is not even listed in his filmography on Wikipedia and the reason it’s not in the news is because it features newcomers and is being made on a shoe-string budget. “This is an opportunity for me to prove that I can not only give good music for big films, but even for small movies,” he reasons.

Darbar is known for his outspokenness, and he feels it is not one of his greatest assets. “I have always spoken my mind and this kind of frankness is never widely appreciated.
That’s the reason you don’t find me on too many reality shows,” says the man who has judged Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge in 2005 and 2007, Amul Star Voice of India 2 and Bharat Ki Shaan: Singing Star Season 2.

“It’s difficult for me to follow a written script. Reality shows should be real and not manipulated for TRPs,” he signs off.

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