Mannan feels Hindi songs lack creativity

Music composer's latest project is 'Namaste England'

Mannan Shaah

In an age where more and more composers are turning towards the comforts of electronic production, Mannan Shaah, who still prefers to work with a live symphony, is a refreshing change. 

Mannan is known for the song ‘Tere Dil Mein’ from ‘Commando 2’.

He has assisted music director Pritam Chakraborty and recently worked with Javed Akhtar for the upcoming movie ‘Namaste England’. He spoke to Rajitha Menon about what it takes to work with large orchestras.

How did you get interested in the field of music?

I started learning Indian classical music at the age of five. My mother discovered the talent in me and pushed me further into learning and exploring the art. I’m training under Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan for last 7-8 years. Before that, I was training under Pt Vinayak Vora for 11 years.

You prefer to record live orchestras for your songs...

A live symphony orchestra always gives a certain grandeur to the song. Every player who plays in a symphony orchestra gets attached to the song and gives his creative best to the song. I believe in keeping music live, be it orchestra or recording a musical instrument for a song. 

What are the challenges involved in this?

Rehearsals, though I look at them more as an opportunity to finetune my work rather than a challenge. Secondly, managing so many musicians and their dates and bringing them together on one podium is a task. Budgeting such recordings is a challenge too. 

Things to take care of while recording with large orchestras...

Miking technique is something a studio engineer needs to know very well while recording these ensembles. Bigger studios are required to record them. Unfortunately, we have very few big studios in our country which are capable of accommodating a 32-piece or a 51-piece orchestra.

One problem that you see in the field of music creation when it comes to movies these days..

Our film music is drifting away from its roots. There was a time when composers were more melody-oriented.

Music was far superior and rich in content in the 1960s and 70s. In those days, composers, lyricists, producers, filmmakers and labels never thought in terms of which song will do well commercially. Nowadays, we lack that passion to be more creatively involved. Today, our youth is drifting away from our own music towards international numbers. It’s high time we get back to our basics to bring our audiences back to us.

What songs do you listen to in your spare time?

I listen to each and every type of music. My guru Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahab once said that music is a universal language and is versatile in all forms, be it sufi, ghazal, pop, rock, blues or classical, which he thought of as chapters in a single book. 

Future projects...

I’m composing for ‘Namaste England’ which releases during Dussehra this year. It stars Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra and is directed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah. Javed Akhtar is writing the lyrics to my tunes. There are couple of other films too in the pipeline.

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Mannan feels Hindi songs lack creativity

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