When you think of some of the most memorable, shooting and mellifluous songs of the last few years, chances are high that music composer Mithoon has been behind them. As a composer, Mithoon has scored music for a string of successful songs from Woh Lamhe to Tere Bin and Phir Mohabbat to Tum Hi Ho. If you are an avid admirer of his music, read Mithoon’s candid conversation with our Mumbai correspondent, Mohnish Singh, where the composer talks about his process of creating music, the concept of multiple composers in a single film, his forthcoming projects, and much more.
In 2017, you took up two projects only. Is there a reason for being so selective with your work?
It’s not about that. I would love to work with everyone, but as a musician, I have a process. I am also an arranger, just like my father was. I am technician myself, therefore, it’s not just that I make a song and then I am done, I can move on. I stay with the song, I produce the song, I play the instruments myself, I am involved in mixing also, and I became a musician because I love this process.
When you make songs, do the actors or characters in the movie affect the production of it?
I am an old school music student. So how Lakshmi Pyarelal would choose Kishore Da for a particular actor, these kinds of thoughts have influenced me. When we were doing music for ‘Aashiqui 2’ Mohit Suri and Mukesh Bhatt asked me for a new voice. It was a deliberate decision that they don’t want to lip sync Aditya Roy Kapoor to a heard voice and that’s when they placed the responsibility on me to search for this new voice. That’s when I suggested Arijit’s name because he was in touch with me from 2007 and I felt that his voice would just be apt. So in a lip sync song, it’s definitely important, but I think if it’s not lip sync, as long as the emotion is getting communicated I think it’s fine.
What do you think is the uniqueness of your music that garners so much appreciation from all around?
I really don’t know. If I come to know, I think it will be a problem. The fact that I don’t know is a good thing. All the creative juices come from the fact of not knowing. The more we know the more we start to technicalize it. I promise only one thing to my listener that my music is very honest and I never enter the studio with the intention of creating a hit song or breaking records. My intention is to create a good song which feels nice and what I am feeling at that point of time. That sincerity is what works for me.
You have always tried to stay away from songs with indecent lyrics. Is that a deliberate move?
I think as a musician every artist should write about what they relate to, otherwise, it becomes fake. If you are a loud person, you have the right to express yourself in that way and I don’t judge anyone for that. My songs reflect the kind of person I am. It’s just as simple as that.
As compared to earlier days, now there are multiple composers for one film. How do you see this change?
I really don’t know. And I feel there is no need to know. No one is forcing anyone to do anything. If somebody is not comfortable working with multiple or just one composer, they should not do it. He should work on his own terms. I don’t have an issue personally because I am doing solo and shared, both, and some of my best songs have come through shared projects. If I would restrict myself then maybe that work would never come out.
How do you think the digital medium has changed music landscape in India?
It has both, pros and cons. As a pro, it has given a lot of opportunities, you don’t have to wait six months to bring out a song now or convince people before putting it out for the newcomers. You have an idea, you have a song, you plug it in and you have an audience. So I think that platform is very good. Though the danger is that, at the same time, it promotes mediocrity. You have to be careful about both, and I think every musician should take the responsibility of bringing out quality music.
How do you see the change of releasing singles as compared to through a film?
I would love to see this change. Myself, my singers, my lyricist, we all discuss about having an industry of our own which has a different identity from the film industry. Obviously, we love films. That’s what we have grown up from, but to do something side by side is interesting. It will give a little more tone to the countries’ influence, where we can do things outside the spectrum of films. I think it has grown a lot in the last few years and I think it should grow more.
What has changed in the music industry in the last so many years?
That’s a complicated question. Every generation has its own structure, which is the creative side and the consuming side. Both reflect each other, they are deeply related because the people who create music have grown up in the same generation. Their influence is sometimes seen in the work they create.
What is your process for creating a song? Do you compose a tune first and then the lyricist pens down lyrics or the lyricist writes the lyrics first and then you create a tune?
It’s like asking me what is my process of eating food. Do I first take the daal and pour it into the rice or do I take the rice and mix it with daal? Every day is a new day. What you feel you do. That’s how I approach music.
According to you, which was the best soundtrack of the last year?
It’s difficult to point out, but I think Jagga Jasoos had some very good songs. I think it was a very intense effort by Pritam and he should be applauded.
Could you tell us something about your future projects?
Next year I have a project of eight independent singles with Zee Music. I am also going to start working on Mohit Suri’s next directorial. Further, I am also working on an Indo-US film called Stains.