Who was it from the Ek Villain team that approached you for the film?
Adnan Dhool: A member of Balaji Motion Picture’s creative team approached our manager a few months ago. They said that both the company and director Mohit Suri were interested in our song. They added that he wanted us to do this track for Ek Villain.
Rabi Ahmed: A year ago, Adnan and I were watching Aashiqui 2 and we wondered ‘what would it be like to give music to a Bollywood film like this one?’ We never thought we would be making music for Mohitbhai’s and Balaji’s upcoming project. And today it feels great to see our name in the credit list alongside popular singers and composers.
How did the initial process kick off?
AD: Right from the inception of Awari for Nescafe Basement Season 1 in 2012 to recreating it for Ek Villain, the entire experience was undoubtedly very challenging. We had to keep in mind the brief given by Mohitbhai, along with the film’s story and theme. It was a challenge for us to keep all the aspects in a perfect balance and create harmony.
RA: The other factor we were concerned about was whether Awari would appeal to the masses. We have always created music keeping the target audience in mind and then, there were times when our compositions had a social message. But Awari for Ek Villain catered to a larger crowd. So, we really had to study and analyze the likes and taste of the audience perfectly, before recreating the number. Contrary to the Nescafe Basement version, Awari in Ek Villain had to have female vocals. Keeping the soulful voice Adnan had, we had a tough time auditioning for a female voice. It was some time before our manager Murtaza Niaz introduced us to Momina and insisted that she will be a perfect match with Adnan’s voice. Momina sent us demo vocals of her recordings on Awari and we all felt her vocals were a perfect match.
How was the song finally re-created?
AD: We first produced a demo version of Awari in our studio, which was then sent to Momina, so that she would listen to the demo and do vocals for her part as required. Momina finished recording her part in the US and then sent us the track. The entire process took a couple of weeks.
RA: Adnan’s vocals were recorded at Zulfiqar J Khan’s (the duo’s mentor) studio in Pakistan. Since Xulfibhai created the initial sounds for the original Awari, we believed he would be the best choice to record Adnan’s vocals for the song. Later, we sent Adnan and Momina’s vocal tracks along with the demo track of Awari, to Mohit bhai.
If asked to choose one, which track would you pick as your favourite? The original version or the one re-created for Ek Villain?
AD: For an artist, creation of a song is like conceiving and nurturing their baby. The original version of Awari was themed on how girls are compelled in to flesh trade, how they feel about the entire thing, what torture they go through among others. It was actually based on the real life experience of an acquaintance. We were very touched by her emotional trauma and hence, we thought of shedding light on the kind of issues that women deal with. The hookline of this track had to be catchy. We thought about it for days and came up with a word that does not exist in Urdu, Punjabi or any sub-continent’s vocabulary. People know about Awargi or Awara, but not Awari. A lot of people advised us against using that word, but we stuck to our decision.
RA: The re-created version is equally important to us, because it helped to reach out to the masses and gave our band, Soch, recognition. But honestly, there is a lot of difference between doing a song for the band and recreating it for the OST (original soundtrack). For Ek Villain, we had an entire situation along with the visual that was created. It was interesting to change the theme of the song from its original concept into a duet; a love song where both the boy and girl express their respective emotional sides.
What are you currently working on?
AD: We have two more Bollywood releases in the pipeline. We are planning to introduce a new Indian female vocalist in one of the tracks. We are also working on our band’s single titled Hamesha, which will be out this month and we are in talks with Indya Records for the release.
RA: After that, we will be releasing the music video of our song Arz, which is currently in post-production. It should be out in a month or two. By the end of this month, we will start shooting for another music video called Naina, which is going to be a mix of Urdu and Punjabi. Our music album is under production and we plan to release it by the end of this year.