In Conversation With Sachin-Jigar

Bollywood has a lot of composers who despite their great talent have always been destined to remain away from the limelight, mostly by virtue of the kind of movies they have got to score for, or due to sheer bad luck. The most prominent ones in that list have been Sandesh Shandilya and Ram Sampath, both hardly having received the recognition that their talent demands. The latest to join that group have been Sachin Jigar, the immensely talented duo who debuted with Teree Sang giving five excellent tracks, but we all know what happened to the movie. Similar fate befell their next two movies Krantiveer and F.A.L.T.U., although with FALTU some of their songs at least got valuable air time. In any case, things have finally started looking up for the talented duo with their latest venture, Shor In The City, where the music and the movie have both been appreciated, Saibo especially turning out a huge success. So here is presenting Music Aloud’s interview of the composer twain (in fact Sachin speaking on behalf of both). Yenjoy! (We also had valuable inputs from Pavan Jha of BBC India for this interview, a big thank you to him!)

Sachin Sanghvi and Jigar Saraiya. You are not brothers obviously. So what is the connection? How did Sachin-Jigar happen?

We basically met to share work load. Both of us were doing well in television, but needed support to fetch more work and perform better. There is this thing called coincidence. We naturally gelled; there was the Gujju connect, we complemented each others’ weaknesses etc. so it was destiny I guess.
Tell us a bit about your musical upbringing, classical training et al? We know that Sachin used to sing for movies as a child, when did being a composer occur to you in place of taking up singing professionally?

Oh yes I started learning hindustani classical vocals at the age of six. I really wanted to be a singer then, but I wasn’t enjoying it so much. Then came Roja and A R Rahman swept a whole lot of young guys like me off their feet. It revolutionised the flow of things. I loved music but singing wasn’t enough. After repeatedly listening to Roja I was sure that composing music, recording it and arranging it myself was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That’s when I picked up learning the keyboards.
From assisting the traditional-oriented Rajesh Roshan to working for Pritam to developing your own sound, you have seen a lot of transition in your musical career. So what have you adopted from your previous masters, and what have you tried to avoid from those days?

Yes its been quite a journey. Raju bhai and the Roshans gave us the feel of the level at which we had to raise ourselves, the big cinema 70mm sound. We also learned the lessons of how to develop a melody that can sustain itself in the hearts of audience and never leave. But our stint at Pritam sir was the real twist in the tale. He’s a master of the job. From composing to the final stage of mastering he has laid down a procedure and follows it faithfully. According to our skills he divided us in following up with different steps of the big procedure. We learnt lots about sound designing – how to undo dragging a song, how to understand a director, and how to produce the big fat commercial sound of Bollywood.

Both these institutions taught us so much and help us meet the who’s who of the musician and singer community. We developed a certain goodwill and met angels like Bombay Vikings fame Neeraj shridhar. He helped us at every step once we became independent.

When working as a duo, do you divide work as independent artists or collaborate on each and everything you work upon?

While one is sitting on the machine creating music the other sits quietly at the back. That’s a crucial place to be, because from the back you can see even more clearly. So you can give ideas or avoid disturbing. Once satisfied the first one gives way to the other to add on. So its purely collaboration. Even in live dubs and post production we need each other continuously. We’ve strong and weak areas individually, but together we are a comprehensive team. In fact we’ve so gelled that we’ve taken our company beyond the studio and work. We are a family now!

Did the controversy surrounding Teree Sang affect your working in any manner?

There was hardly any awareness till we finished composing for Teree Sang, Satishji and Sameer sir armoured us. We’ve worked for every one as arrangers including the gentleman involved in the controversy. We’re morally too strong to do a film that a senior has already worked on. But the facts were hidden from us and it only helped us do the job. We had nothing to lose so we gave it our best. Later we learnt the whole thing. But it was the kind words of Sameer sir that helped us deal with the shock. We’re proud of Teree Sang and the confidence was instilled in us by Satish Kaushikji
FALTU’s soundtrack must have been a challenge? 11 tracks across genres? How was the experience of working for it?

Faltu was more of a challenge because we were catering to ourselves and personally one is very choosy and doesn’t settle for any less. And that’s exactly what Remo told us, “Score for yourself, bring up songs that you can relate to and will never delete from your ipod”. We had the time luckily and Remo is a cool customer he doesn’t push delivery after briefing so you can churn your mind and beat your own self. We approached every song with bhalta ideas and that’s how we spread across genres. It was very challenging but very satisfying. And nothing beats success, so I feel like the junta approved of our ideas and that’s really encouraging.

Shor In The City has been receiving rave reviews all around on the movie front as well. But your previous three movies were unfortunately not so successful at the box office and therefore some wonderful songs went unnoticed. Ever feel that the music could have been better utilized elsewhere?

You can’t say that. You can’t say “yeh film nahi challi to hamara (kaam) waste ho gaya”. Every film has its family. You are part of the attempt. You have to accept failure as a team and move on. When a song does well you may feel it can be put it any script and make a hit there even more may be. But it doesn’t work like that. It’s a combined effort
You never know which part of the whole will work for the audience.

A lot of composers are into doing live shows of late. What do you think of that? Do you have such plans, considering both of you have proven your calibre as singers as well?

Yeah we’ll take that up sometime in the future. We’d been performing as a band until sometime back. We have dipped into the studio recordings and arrangements quite intensely. And I believe we need to stick here and do some serious work until we take the stage again.

Karma Is a Bitch has an Amit Trivedi-ish sound to it. In the past your Chhote Tere Bday Aaya (Krantiveer) reminded one of Pappu Cant Dance Saala. And right from Teree Sang you have displayed a flair for Sufi rock, making it sound like Pak rock in most cases. So do you get inspired by the sounds of contemporaries? Who do consider your inspirations?

I think people like to say something especially when they like it. That’s their job not ours. We did whatever we thought to achieve a certain sound for Karma. You follow your heart when you believe in something. Besides a comparison with the likes of Amit Trivedi is totally cool as we have been in the same peer group and we’ve looked up on him all through. We don’t have inspirations so that you copy from them. It’s about learning or acquiring. I love John Mayer, and Vishal Bhardwaj amongst Indian composers. But I doubt if our music sounds like theirs at all.

Live recording vs programming of songs – what are your views?

Yesterday we didn’t have technology to back us. But today we have it. It’d be foolish to waste time and energy in few areas of recording a song. But live recordings can add so much value. You have to cast well; you need a great musician and a good recordist to get a good live sample. But it’s worthwhile if it’s adding value. So its best to strike a balance. You can get a controlled cost and a unique sound by striking this balance.

And finally, what are the current projects you are working on? Movies or otherwise?

We’ve been doing Hum Tum Shabana since FALTU. That’s slated for an August release. Other than that I’ve plunged myself into theatre projects. I literally breathe theatre work. Its my first love, will always be. Other than that we are not rushing through too many offers now. Taking it nice n slow.