Meet Dub Sharma, the ace producer behind some of the smash hits on the Gully Boy soundtrack

Dub Sharma, who has been producing music for radio, TV advertisement jingles, musicians and (of course) himself since 2008, says Gully Boy had a first for him

Anurag Tagat February 05, 2019 11:52:42 IST
Meet Dub Sharma, the ace producer behind some of the smash hits on the Gully Boy soundtrack

In early 2016, Chandigarh-based producer Siddharth Sharma aka Dub Sharma released a track called “Azadi” which sampled a speech made by student-activist Kanhaiya Kumar and followed it up with a blog post that was titled ‘I hope my song dies’. In it, Sharma hoped that people saw the song in its right context.

Nearly three years on, there is an actual new context to “Azadi” thanks to Sharma’s involvement with hip-hop Bollywood film Gully Boy, which releases on February 14 and has a soundtrack that features India’s rap talent across 18 tracks. Interestingly, Sharma says over an email interview that the film soundtrack’s music supervisor, singer-songwriter Ankur Tewari, got in touch with Sharma after hearing “Azadi”. Sharma recounts, “It sounded absolutely interesting to me but honestly, I had no idea how far it could go. Then I met Ankur Tewari and (Gully Boy director) Zoya Akhtar for a listening session. I played all that I had in works at that time and that opened way for some more tracks.”

Meet Dub Sharma the ace producer behind some of the smash hits on the Gully Boy soundtrack

Dub Sharma with Gully Boy director Zoya Akhtar. Image via Facebook/@dubsharma

From the 18 tracks that feature everyone from Divine, Ace and Naezy to MC Todfod and even lead actor Ranveer Singh himself, Dub Sharma worked on “Jingostan” and its beatbox version, the lead single “Apna Time Aayega” (which is now the film’s tagline) and “Azadi.” Sharma, who has been producing music for radio, TV advertisement jingles, musicians and (of course) himself since 2008, says Gully Boy had a first for him. “One thing I couldn't believe was that they didn't want me to change my sound. Never happened in my production life. Bollywood automatically reaches a huge audience, but I was all this while concerned about how my music can help tell this story,” he says.

He resolutely maintains this line of thought even when asked about how “Azadi” was carried into Gully Boy minus any of the existing samples, instead employing Divine’s somewhat lurid verses. When asked about the changes made to “Azadi”, Sharma says, “Music for film is for film. It’s music being used to enhance the viewing experience, to tell the story. It’s only when people watch it in context of the movie, they understand.” Sharma was among those celebrating the song at the music launch held at Mumbai’s Richardson and Cruddas in January. “I was on stage jumping around when Divine performed ‘Azadi’. It was overwhelming,” he says.

On Firstpost — Gully Boy music review: A rousing, eclectic soundtrack that sets the benchmark for a trailblazing genre

A harmonium player who turned to “computer music” when he was about 14 years old, Sharma began professionally making music in 2008. He says he never sold beats – as is the norm in the hip-hop producer world – but did undertake ghost production (“that used to be conventional sounds,” he says) and commercial work. Sharma says he saw the bigger picture and started working towards it, eventually finding a network that landed him more opportunities, like working on tracks for travel and music shows such as Sound Trek (2016) and The Dewarists (2017). As far as his solo releases go, EPs such as Cues (2016) and Super (2017) showcase Dub Sharma as a calculated, wavy hip-hop/electronic beatmaker who leans on Indian instrument samples but also eschews the need for a high-intensity bass drop. He agrees that music producers in India are “underrated” and undervalued.

“It is tough because music sales are negligent, streaming payouts are low and if you are a full time studio project, it is hard, very hard to survive. Not particularly the Indian music industry but music business is complex for creative people in general,” he says, offering as advice: “It doesn't hurt to educate yourself and move forward. It only helps in the long run.”

With a New Delhi music showcase for Gully Boy’s soundtrack in the works, Sharma will definitely be closer to home ground soon. He promises more new music and more projects in the pipeline in 2019, even as praise and reactions pour in for his work on the film’s most important tracks (including Lucky Ali’s impromptu mashup of “Apna Time Aayega” and “Ek Pal Ka Jeena”. He says, “People calling me (and saying) ‘Tera Time Aagayaa' was my favourite reaction.”

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