Sound of Music

Monty Sharma likes taking his time to make music in Bollywood

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published:December 20, 2013 4:52 am

A producer had once offered composer Monty Sharma Rs 25 lakh for a song. The demand,however,was that it had to be a pre-ordained hit,one that would substantially help push the fortunes of the film,which would feature his daughter-star. Sharma gave up the offer,as he couldn’t guarantee a “hit”. In his career,spanning over 14 years composing songs and background music for Hindi films,he has given up many such offers. By Bollywood standards,Sharma has done very

few films.

“My whole funda is to try and do extraordinary,not run-of-the-mill,stuff,” says the 42-year-old composer about his long,mysterious absence from the Hindi film music circuit. He was nowhere to be heard or seen,till two of his films,Goliyon ki Raasleela—Ram-Leela,where he scored the background score for old aide Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Singh Saab the Great came out in the last two months. Hindi film music enthusiasts,of course,mostly remember Sharma for two of his films — the orchestral splendour of Black and the sweeping melodies of Saawariya,especially the last one that remains the composer’s most accomplished full-fledged soundtrack till date. “I got 21 offers after Saawariya,and couldn’t do any of them,” he says,without a hint of repentance.

“One film at a time,” he adds,explaining how he never wanted to be the hit-manufacturing machines Bollywood composers turn into. “Few people here get to do everything how they want to. For me,satisfaction matters most. I sleep peacefully then,” he says,seated in his Lokhandwala studio,in Mumbai,tucked in one of the area’s nondescript high-rises.

Music came to him by default. His grandfather Ram Prasad Sharma is a known name inside the circles and has trained a whole pack of ’90s composers including Nadeem Shravan,Anand Milind and Anu Malik. Sharma’s uncle is Pyarelal of the famed composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

Unsurprisingly,his schooling is that of traditional Bollywood,standing largely on the pillars of Western classical orchestra and Hindustanti classical music. What separates his work from the jaded sound of old Bollywood is his freewheeling spirit. Gentle raga-seeped melodies can surge into soaring qawwalis seamlessly,even as a sparkling orchestra set itself against thunderous Indian percussion,as with Yoon shabnami,a “dreamy romantic song” from Saawariya.

He is all praise for Bhansali,the filmmaker who he has worked with the most. “He gives me a lot of free-hand. He takes you on a journey. His films take 2-3 years. But to me it has always been quality over quantity,” he exclaims. He has been involved with the filmmaker’s projects from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam to Saawariya,till Bhansali decided to take up composing himself. He skipped Guzaarish because he was exhausted but was back to making music with him in Ram-Leela,albeit the background score this time.

Sharma’s explanations at times feel too simplistic considering how complex his songs can be. The words “self satisfying”,“soul”,“honesty” and “good work” are what he uses to describe most of his music,and beyond that Sharma leaves it to his spiritual side — he is working on a Gurbani album with a number of big names. “I honestly feel,beyond a point you don’t create music. It’s the almighty. It comes to you,” he says.

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