Musical melodies are Pritam Chakraborty’s greatest strength and he feels most depressed when he has to refuse musical films due to time constraints.
In the recent past, Pritam says he felt terrible when he said no to films like Advait Chandan’s Secret Superstar, which is produced by Aamir Khan productions, and stars Aamir himself.
“Secret Superstar is a deadly script, I was crying during the narration but then I didn’t have the time to compose its music. Similarly, I loved Homi Adajania’s next film — Sushant Singh Rajput and Parineeti Chopra starrer Takadum — in which the protagonist is a musician but then I don’t have the time. I can’t do everything that comes to me. When I have to drop such musicals, I feel very, very sad. I don’t mind if I have to refuse big banner films, but musicals...” sighs Pritam.
But how can we forget he's the man behind some of the biggest chartbusters in Bollywood, with an impressive list of films to his credit including, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Dhoom, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and upcoming Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.
Composer-singer Pritam broke into Bollywood’s music scene with Dhoom (2004), which was a huge hit and the music was lapped up. He followed it up with music for Gangster (2006), Dhoom 2 (2006) and Life In A Metro (2007). There has been no looking back for him ever since.
While many of his soundtracks have been sweeping hits, two of his songs Gerua (Dilwale) and Kamli (Dhoom 3) reached 100 million hits and very recently songs from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (the title track, 'Bulleya' and 'Channa Mereya') have become a rage within a very short time.
Besides that he has his kitty overflowing with films like Aamir Khan’s Dangal, Anurag Basu’s Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif starrer Jagga Jasoos, Kabir Khan and Salman Khan’s Tubelight and Imtiaz Ali's next with Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma The Ring.
“I got very good feedback for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil songs right from the beginning. Karan (Johar, director) had played it for Aditya Chopra and he too had liked the songs. Inside Dharma Productions office they would talk about 'Channa Mereya' and the title track. So the process was really smooth,” says Pritam.
He further says, “I heard the script of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and I thought it will take some time to come up with the music. I made a bank of five to six songs and asked Karan to hear it. In that first meeting three songs were locked. You feel that you have to work very hard for him but it isn’t so because he is very clear about the kind of music he wants. He is instinctive and has got a musical ear as well which makes it very easy to work with him as a musician. Karan is also open to new instruments. I changed lot of instrumentation in between and many directors have a problem with that, but Karan is open to changes.”
Since the composer has seen his career reaching heights of success in the past too, he doesn’t feel this phase can be called his peak. “Earlier, I worked on Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Dilwale and Dangal around the same time. So I can’t say it’s the best phase of my career. Let all the songs come out and then I can come to some conclusion. But so far, certainly my best year was 2012-’13 when I had releases like Cocktail, Barfi and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani."
"So if the music of Dangal, Jagga Jasoos, The Ring, Tubelight work, then I can call this the best phase of my career. I am happy that most of the people I’m working with have a great sense of music, be it Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir or Imtiaz,” says Pritam.
He has just returned from Lisbon, where he’d gone to record some Portuguese folk music for The Ring. “There is a sequence in the film where they needed that Portuguese folk form, it had to be recorded for a sequence. I spent just two days in Lisbon and that too in a studio so I saw Lisbon through the car window,” he laughs.
For the composer, the script of a film has always been his inspiration.
“I first read the script and listen to the narration. I [try to] understand the emotion that the character goes through. I am more of a melody guy so I concentrate on that,” says Pritam, who is very particular about working solo.
“For instance, all three songs of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil have some angst in them, because the movie is angsty. So every song of the film, I believe, should have that quality in it. And that is the very reason I don’t like the idea of multiple music directors. I will only work solo and that is my first point in the contract. I generally don’t allow any other song to come in my films,” he explains.
While Pritam shares a good bond with directors like Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Basu, Kabir Khan, Homi Adajania, Ayan Mukherjee, Rohit Dhawan, Dinesh Vijan, among actors, Ranbir Kapoor is one of his personal favourites.
“Ranbir makes every song very special either through his acting or through his dance or through the swag he normally has. Whenever you are working with Ranbir you know that your songs are safe, it is going to look damn good and he’s going to pull them off. He lip-syncs every song as if he’s lived the song, as if he was actually singing it. Look at the way he has sung 'Channa Mereya'; there is sadness in his eyes,” says Pritam.
Does competition and camps in the industry bother him?
“There is more work than the number of musicians we have. I’m fortunate that most of the time only those films come to me that I am actually keen on doing. For me it’s important that the movie is a musical. I love doing rom-coms and angsty films but not action,” says he while pointing out that he has worked with every ‘camp’ in the industry.
“I have worked with Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir. I have also done Bhatt films. Yash Raj gave me a break and now I am also part of Dharma films,” laughs Pritam, adding, “I have stopped doing 18 films a year like in the past. Ideally I should be just doing three films a year along with the background score.”
One thing is final though. The composer wants to leave allegations of plagiarism far behind. “All that happened long back, all those incidents are very old but the ghost follows me. Whenever that happens and if I am able to identify the ghost, I send a legal notice. But most of the time the ghost is anonymous,” signs off Pritam.