'Ek Rishtaa was composed overnight!'
There is a mellowness never heard in composer Nadeem's voice before.
Even over the telephone wires over long distance from London, he is cheerful, relaxed and glad to chat up. (We have not spoken to each other for over three-and-half years.)
He can't be blamed. The man (along with partner Shravan) has created history of sorts in Bollywood, having signed over a dozen films from faraway London.
Also, Dhadkan and Kasoor -- the first two films since he fled to London in 1997 after being declared prime suspect in the Gulshan Kumar murder case -- were hits and proved he hasn't lost his touch.
Now, he's back with another hit in the making, Ek Rishtaa - The Bond Of Love.
If, in 1997, the odds were completely against him, 2001 sees him emerging vindicated by the House of Lords and coming up once again as competition for contemporaries Anu Malik, A R Rahman and the floundering Jatin-Lalit.
The creator of Aashiqui ("It won 13 awards -- that's history!" he had crowed once), Saajan, Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin, Sadak, Deewana, Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke, Dilwale, Raja, Raja Hindustani, Pardes and Sirf Tum spoke to Dr Rajiv Vijayakar:
You must be happy at being exonerated by the House of Lords and the London courts.
Yes, I am. By the grace of God, I have been proved innocent. The miracle I knew would happen has happened.
I am also happy at the fact that the public has accepted our music as always.
But God's grace has always been there on Nadeem-Shravan...
That's true. And it's very nice of you to say that.
Do you feel you are better off in London?
You see, you're never completely happy. The grass always seems greener on the other side.
I stay at a rented place. My son Samar is now showing a flair for music. My daughter Saima is training to be a teacher and wants to start her own Montessori school. My sister stays in London. My parents drop in every two months. My filmmakers come here for sittings, so does Sameer, my lyricist.
But... I miss Bombay.
What's an average day like?
Well, I get up pretty early -- around 5 or 5.30 am. Then I do my namaaz, read the Quran.
After that *laughs* I have my breakfast. And then it's music for the rest of the day. I spend a lot of time on the Net and over the telephone with friends and my colleagues in Bombay.
I have been reading a lot about your style of music undergoing a change. How true is it?
Well, Nadeem-Shravan have always believed in melody. And melody is part of me.
But we are making our music trendy. In that sense, our music has changed for the better. Kasoor, Ek Rishtaa, all our forthcoming films reflect this change.
I have upgraded my rhythm and when I programme my music today, there are many more intricacies in the rhythm, about 25 instruments or more...
If you have become sound conscious, why have you never recorded in London itself? Won't that facilitate your physical presence at the recordings?
That's a really good idea. I will seriously think along those lines.
Isn't it true that Dhadkan, your first release after your comeback of sorts, was actually composed before you left India?
No, two songs were recorded here: Aksar is duniya mein and Tum
dil ki dhadkan mein.
How exactly do you compose and record a song nowadays?
Well, I sit with the director to finish work on the score. If the story is faxed to me earlier, I usually complete an outline of the tunes a few days before the director comes down here.
Believe it or not, Ek Rishtaa was an overnight job after Suneel Darshan's narration.
Though I always have a large stock of tunes, I prefer to compose a fresh tune for a situation now. Then Sameer comes over and we work out the song. We decide on the singers I take them through the song over the telephone.
Through the Net, I also send the final graph of the song, its arrangements and rhythm. I have set up a small studio at home for the same.
Shravan supervises and executes everything in Bombay.
Why don't you work now with more lyricists to get in some variety?
But Sameer's lyrics have variety, na?
Look, I am not refuting your suggestion. But, like it or not, groups ban jaate hain and work gets done faster.
I would love to work with Anand Bakshi saab and Javed Akhtar saab.
Have you experimented with the latest singers ?
I recorded with Sunidhi Chauhan yesterday. I know there are some great new singers around. I intend to use them and introduce some myself.
Has any composer called up to inquire about your well-being?
No, but I guess it's like that nowadays. There are no emotions left. It's a dog-eat-dog world nowadays.
Which dogs are you planning to eat?!
*laughs uproariously* Well, let's just say that I am just preventing myself from being eaten by other dogs!
Have you been keeping in touch with other composers' work in your absence?
Yes. But I don't think there is anything worth talking about!
None at all?
Well, just one or two scores. I liked the music of Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
What about A R Rahman in Taal?
Rahman is at his worst now! As for Taal, I would give it 70 out of 100.
Our film Pardes would get a 100 on 100!
What went wrong with Aa Ab Laut Chalen? Sameer tells me there was a lack of mental tuning as also the fact that Rishi Kapoor and you were never quite on the same wavelength?
No, no, our tuning has always been excellent. I still consider it to be one of our finest scores. The RK flavour was there, too.
The only problem was that four of the eight songs were recorded after I left. And I wasn't there to personally supervise my singers. I could not even work from here. Both Shravan and I were disturbed about it...
On the personal front, now that you are exonerated, why don't you fight it out in India so that you are vindicated and free once and for all?
I am not foolish. I know that a select coterie of politicians and policemen are out to trap me. I will not walk into the trap.
I trust our judiciary and the police force is not corrupt as a whole. But there are vested interests out to frame me. I can name the six or seven people who want to nail me on record.
But will you print their names?
If you do, will the publication print them? What kind of free press is this that everyone can damn me in print and I can't retaliate against them nor make people aware of the facts?
Look, I am an honorable man. I have fought honorably through the courts.
The British machinery has no vested interests. And if they exonerated me after over three years of minutely examining every angle and evidence, including handwriting reports, it means something.
The far-reaching judgment clearly says that the 'Evidence is so tainted so as to render a fair trial impossible'.
I could have run away from here and moved from one place to another, but I fought in the courts of London. The Indian government should realise this.
You even brought in the communal angle two years ago by stating that you were harassed because you were a Muslim. Even your partner Shravan did not like it.
Well, I spoke from the heart; I felt strongly about it. Though I never generalised and said that every Hindu was against Muslims.
It is painful, but can you rewind to the time it began? What was your first reaction?
You see, I had come down here for a holiday. My wife was undergoing some medical problems -- she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and miscarried.
When I first heard the news that I was the prime accused, I was shocked. My first reaction was to laugh it off as a joke. But when I realised the gravity of the situation, I began to sob helplessly.
People called up; I swore on my child's grave I was innocent. How could they write a complete pack
Gulshanji was the man who made our career with Aashiqui. Bhushan Kumar was, and is, like a kid brother.
How long did it take to get out of that mood?
I did finally come out of the ordeal. Only a man of steel could have survived the trauma I went through. My family and friends refused to believe I was guilty -- they know me too well. Everyone rallied around me.
I hope Bhushan and Krishen Kumar realise and see the light, too.
But Bollywood initially did not really stand by you. It was only after some years that they came back to you...
Not true. I must mention the complete and consistent moral support of Mahesh Bhatt and Shatrughan Sinha. Indians in London believed in me, too.
Also, I was the one who cut down on my work.
How much has all this changed you as a composer and as a person?
I am a wiser man. I am a diamond that is shining brighter now after being chiselled *laughs*. You could say that I am the second Kohinoor in London now! *laughs again*.
But the composer in me has remained the same. I was always in touch with my music. And, believe it or not, I would compose even as I was sitting in court. That is a sign of an innocent man who is steady after the initial shock, wouldn't you say?
I knew that God would be with me because the accusations were a 3,000-page load of rubbish. The verdict was unanimous.
Have you given a thought to why you are being targetted?
I cannot imagine the reason. People are jealous about our success, maybe.
Did they take advantage of the fact that you had a reputation for being aggressive and boastful, like making all those statements against Gulshan Kumar or suggesting retirement to Laxmikant-Pyarelal?
I don't think I was ever aggressive. I had major differences with Gulshanji, which were sorted out. At his insistence, I signed on for Sirf Tum.
Let me also clarify that I never said L-P should retire. It was wrongly printed. All I said was that one should quit when one is still loved by people. Kalyanji Anandji did that.
How did your second innings begin?
I happened to hear director Kuku Kohli speak on Sunrise Radio here. I found out where he was and went and met him. He heard some of my tunes and signed me for Yeh Dil Aashiqana.
Anything more you want to say?
Nothing. Our music will speak for us now.
I do not want to make jealous people more jealous by saying anything more.
Our filmmakers trust us. And, God willing, another miracle will take place and I will be back in Bombay soon.
Forthcoming films of Nadeem-Shravan:
* Hum Ho Gaye Aapke (Venus)
* Tumse Accha Kaun Hai (Venus)
* Rikku Rakesh Nath's next film
* Pehlaj Nihalani's Joshilay
* Vikram Bhatt's Raaz
* Dharmesh Darshan's Haan Maine Pyar Kiya
* Suneel Darshan's next film after Ek Rishtaa
* Vimal Kumar's Aashiqui Deewangi
* Yeh Dil Aashiqana
* A Vashu Bhagnani film
* Dil Deke Dekho
* Gordhan Tanwani's next film.
The magic of Nadeem Shravan on Rediff Radio!