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Back in the Groove

Composer Pritam on taking a break from film music and the creative freedom that Coke Studio @MTV offers.

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh |
Updated: March 2, 2015 12:15:51 am
Pritam, Music composer Pritam has Tigers, Phantom, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Jagga Jasoos lined up this year.

In what was the quietest year of his 13-year-long career, Pritam — one of Bollywood’s busiest composers — confesses that he did nothing.

“People would ask me if I was working on a personal music project. But honestly, I didn’t even touch my guitar. All I did was sit idle and chill, and travel,” he says.

What he did have to work hard on in this time was the art of saying ‘no’. For someone who, in any particular year of his career, has had an average of four film album releases, this didn’t come easy. “I realised that if I can’t refuse one film, it becomes more difficult to refuse the other offers that follow. The makers would believe that I am favouring one over the other,” explains the composer, who is one of the 12 producers of Coke Studio @MTV in its new format. Pritam had been considering participating in the show when he was invited in its previous seasons, but prior commitments to film projects kept him from taking it up. He is excited to finally be on the show that allows a kind of creative freedom that films don’t.

“I have never been dissatisfied with the film work I’ve done, where I incorporated several non-film genres, such as rock and electronic music, into the songs. But films would come with their own worlds, such as Barfi!’s old-world charm or Jab We Met’s vibrant Punjab,” he says. What will be exciting about Coke Studio @MTV, he says, is getting to do music without any guidelines or pressure. “It’s a blank canvas,” he says quickly, adding, “That could also be a bad thing because the canvas is so vast that one may get lost trying to figure out what to do. At least the script narrows one down.”

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The composer of Cocktail and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Pritam has earned a reputation for producing popular tunes that have boosted the films’ success at the box office. But after working non-stop for many years, he admits to being exhausted. This fatigue showed in his forgettable, laboured work in his last few albums, such as Dhoom 3, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara!, Shaadi Ke Side Effects and Holiday. He explains that he had given up long before he could begin refusing films. “I realised I was forcing myself to work. I am a workaholic, so this was alarming.”

This year, however, will see Pritam return to the groove. Tigers, his most unusual project till now, with Academy Award-winning director Danis Tanovic, is expected to hit the theatres after the cricket World Cup. Besides, he has Phantom and Bajrangi Bhaijaan coming soon, and also Jagga Jasoos, where he once again teams up with Anurag Basu and Ranbir Kapoor after the success of Barfi!. About the curious musical format of the film, he says, “A lot of dialogues are being mouthed in a sing-song way of speaking. But nothing is conclusive with Anurag; we keep changing things.”

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