Your songs in DDLJ are to this day oven-fresh and hummed by a generation that wasn’t even born when the film was first released?
It’s my brother Jatin and my good fortune to be part of this milestone of a movie. Imagine, a 1000 weeks! Nowadays none of the films celebrate silver jubilees. We used to see plenty of those during the days when our sister Sulakshana Pandit was a leading lady.
How did you bag such a prestigious project?
No one knows this but Asha Didi(Bhosle) was instrumental in getting us this assignment.My brother and I had gone to meet her when R D Burman had passed away. She happened to mention if we had worked with Yashji. When we said we met him and were keen to work with him she dialed and spoke to Yashji then and there for us.
Ashaji sang one song Zarasa jhoom loon main in DDLJ?
Yes, we had to get her for that song.Yashji wanted Lataji for all the female vocals, and we were very happy with that. But considering Ashaji’s role in getting us this project we wouldn’t have been able to show her our face if she hadn’t sung at least one song in DDLJ, this was the last song that we recorded and even this was to be sung by Lataji.We had to be very clever with Yashji and convince him that Ashaji could do justice to Zara sa jhoom loon main.
Were you feeling guilty when she came for the recording?
You know when she arrived she walked up to us and said, ‘Kyun? Sab gaane kar liye?’ She was looking somewhere else while saying this. But we didn’t know where to look..She sang Zara jhoom loon main so beautifully. She suggested saying ‘thandi’ in a particular way.
The Udit Narayan sung, Ruk Ja Ae Dil Diwane, seems inspired by Bachna Ae Haseenon in Karz?
It is. Adi wanted a song like Bachna Ae Haseenon, but the way Shammi Kapoor would do it. Our song had the same flavour as Bachna.
The music of DDLJ played a big hand its success?
Undoubtedly DDLJ was the highest point of our life. All the radio stations tell us that the melody and the sound-quality of the music make them favourites for airplay.
You got to work with the Nightingale Lataji extensively in this film?
When we had just started out we were doing the music of Venus’ Khiladi. Like every aspiring composer we were keen that she sing a song for us. We approached her to sing the duet Vada Raha Sanam through Venus. But she declined.We were very hurt. My whole film is musical, and crazy about Lataji. Yashji always insisted on Lataji singing all the songs in his films. When we got to know that Lataji would be doing all the singing in DDLJ we were over the moon. We decided there and then that we’d create a music that would do justice to Lataji’s voice.
How was your rapport with Lataji during the making of the DDLJ music?
When we started working together Lataji was really happy with the quality of songs, so much so that she also started contributing about how she’d sing. We used to wait bated breath for her to arrive at the recordings. Hamari to woh heron ki heroine hain (she is our heroine of heroes). She’d come looking like a doll and regale us with her anecdotes. When you become her friend you get to experience her deadly sense of humour. During the last decade no other composers have worked so much with her.
In DDLJ at age 65 she sang for Kajol?
Yes, in Mere khwabon mein jo aaye, just hear how she moulded her voice, she’s magical! I’d say it’s her voice that made the song larger than life. The reference point that Adi gave us for the song was Lataji’s Bhai Batoor from Padosan. If you remember, Sairaji throws a pillow, stands on a sofa and dances, Kajol does all of that.
Ghar Aaja Pardesi Tera Des Bulaye Re is a song that makes every NRI weep?
Adi was very clear that his mom would sing this song for sentimental reason. The song had to be designed keeping her image in mind. Mrs Pam Chopra really helped us with that song. Prior to this, we had never composed a single song with a Punjabi flavour. Pamji is from Punjab. She not only introduced us to the right tunes but also the appropriate musical instruments. That gave us an impetus. Anand Bakshi Saab was told to create a song like Chitthi Aayee Hai (Naam) which would make every Indian away from home feel homesick. He wrote so simply and yet so perfectly. It’s so difficult to be simple.
Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna is a staple at all sangeets and weddings, even today...?
This is the song that got us DDLJ. I sang it out loud to Yashji when I met him. My words then were, ‘Mehndi lagake chalna, paayal bajake chalna, par ashiqon se apna daaman bachake chalna.’ The tune stuck to Adi’s mind and he asked for it in DDLJ. By then we had given it to Feroze Nadiadwala. But it wasn’t used. So we gave it Adi. Feroze never worked with us after that (laughs). Initially they wanted a brisk Bhangra tune. But if you hear Mehndi lagake rakhna it is not a Bhangra song. It is not fast paced.
My favourite song in DDLJ is Na Jaane Mere Dil Ko Kya Ho Gaya, tell me about that?
Ours too(laughs). This is two different songs fused together. The idea of two different tunes coming together came from Adi himself. Hats off to that man for the way he thinks. We wondered how we will record two such contrasting sections as one song. During those times there was no digital programming. It was all done live. We had to record the longest rhythm section of our careers.The musicians had to rehearse from 9.30 morning and go on till 11 pm. I think the sound-quality of this song is exceptional. I remember when we were recording the song the musicians got no cue from Lataji, and Lataji also had to sing without any cues from the musician.I gestured to her with my hand when she was singing to give her the cues.
The biggest hit of the film was Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam...?
Oh, without a doubt. The opening line of the song was Adi’s. He used to sing these words Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam. We took the start from him and then went on to compose our own song. But yes, the beginning of the song is Adi’s.
How did you react to the the story when you heard the script?
When Adi narrated the screenplay to us we couldn’t believe what we had heard. The whole film came alive for us.I think Adi Chopra was working on the subject since the time he was in college. He showed us every frame of the film in his narration. Our lyricist the great Anand Bakshi made a prophetic statement after the narration. Bakshi Saab said, ‘Even if the boy puts on screen half of what he has narrated the film will never be out of the theatres.’ The kind of poetry that Bakshi Saab wrote for our songs took them to another level.
You composed a title song and then dropped it , why?
Adi felt—and we all agreed—that no matter how good our title song it will be compared with Ravindra Jainji Le jayenge le jayenge dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge in the film Chor Machaye Shor. There was a situation for the title song in DDLJ...during the the antakshari. We tried our best, and we came up with what we thought was a terrific tune. But we finally decided to drop it. The tune was used by us in Jab Pyar Kissise Hota Hai.
Finally you’ve worked repeatedly with Adi Chopra. What is he like?
No one can equal his passion and dedication. After DDLJ we’ve worked with him in Mohabbatein. He knows exactly what he wants and how to get it out of us. He doesn’t visit any of his actors or technicians. But he comes here to my music room.
If Aditya Chopra asked you would you reunite with your brother Jatin to compose for a film?
For Adi, we’d do anything.
Image source: Instagram
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