'Sanjayji was unhappy with Devdas' music'
Monty Sharma reveals the real truth behind Bhansali-Darbar fallout.
Everyone knows that filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a perfectionist. He demanded the best out of the cast and crew of Devdas, his Rs 500 million magnum opus. But what people may not know is that his music director Ismail Durbar had walked out of the film, as Bhansali was just not satisfied with his music.
As the director hunted for someone to complete Durbar's unfinished assignment, veteran musician Pyarelal's nephew and Durbar's friend Monty Sharma stepped in. Sharma had done the background score of Bhansali's previous film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
Sharma says, "Sanjayji was not particularly happy with the way the music of Devdas had shaped out, when I entered the scene. But I worked on the background score only. Ismail had finished the songs by that time. The title and theme music are mine.
I did not feel skeptical about working in Devdas since Ismail had a fallout with Sanjayji Working in this film is a lifetime opportunity, so I grabbed it."
Sharma admits that the work atmosphere was taxing, as Bhansali demanded '200 per cent' of everyone. Apparently, Durbar lost out on 37 films, due to Devdas. "I do not know how much water that charge holds," says Sharma. "But yes, when Sanjayji offered me the film, he made it very clear that he
wanted me to leave everything else and work exclusively on Devdas. I was told in no uncertain terms to eat, drink and sleep nothing but Devdas."
Sharma did not mind this demand, as he felt that films like this come once in a generation. "I have never seen a Hindi film like this before. The biggest orchestra I had worked with was for Sanjayji's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. This one was bigger and grander," he says.
"It became most taxing when the film was invited to the Cannes film festival," he continues. "It took me by surprise. Suddenly, I was asked to wrap up the background score in just two weeks. My staff worked 36 hours at a stretch. Once in a while, we would troop home for a couple of hours and then return to the studio again.
"My marriage was postponed five times because of this film! I was supposed to be married in December 2001, but when I told Sanjayji that my wedding date was fixed, he told me that I could not work on the project. He said that I needed to postpone my wedding, as I would be distracted. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, so I explained the situation to my fiancee, who understood. The marriage was pushed to January and then February. Finally, I tied the knot in May, before Devdas went to Cannes."
Sharma's music has also been added to the audio cassette of the film. "Sanjayji had no plans of including the theme music in the film's cassette. But when he heard it, he was so impressed that he asked me to record it separately for the audio."
He claims that Bhansali was his inspiration to good music. "He would shower praises on me regularly. He refused to give me any references. He wanted an original score. He always knew his mind and that impressed me to the extent of
inspiring me. By the grace of God, I managed to come up with the theme and music that impressed a perfectionist like him."
Sharma claims that he learnt his music from his grandfather Pandit Ramprasad Sharma, who even taught Pyarelal. Sharma has been working since the young age of 15 years. "I have arranged for Sajid-Wajid, Sanjeev-Darshan and Ismail
Durbar. Besides, HDDCS, I did Tinnu Verma's Maa Tujhe Salaam."
His next film will be Vashu Bhagnani's Jeena Sirf Mere Liye (starring Tusshar Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor). Meanwhile, Sharma hopes to work with Bhansali again. "I have let him know that I would love to work with him again. Let's see what he decides. But I avoid thinking about that."
So is he still in touch with Ismail Durbar? "No. I have lost touch with Ismail Durbar."
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