Rewind to Bollywood of the 1980s and 1990s, and two names you can't ignore are Anand-Milind. In the circuit after a sabbatical, the music duo say their upcoming work will continue to bear their stamp
When an iconic song such as ‘Papa Kehte Hain' is part of your repertoire, expectations are sky high. Such was the case of music composers Anand Srivastav and Milind Srivastav (sons of the 1960s music composer Chitragupta), who were names to reckon with through the 1980s and 1990s. They seldom let their listeners down. They were the ones to look to dial when a new star was being launched, and the siblings created record-breaking music for the first-timers' debutant's films. Right from Aamir Khan-Juhi Chawla (“Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”) and Salman Khan-Nagma (“Baaghi”) to Akshay Kumar (“Saugandh”) and Karisma Kapoor (“Prem Qaidi”), the stars have a lot to thank this composer duo for.
Anand-Milind's signature style has largely been Indian melodies and folk music. They have had close associations with lyricist Sameer, given Madhuri Dixit some of her best dance numbers (‘Channe ke khet mein', ‘Dum duma dum', ‘Kolhapur se aayi hoon' and ‘Dhak dhak karne laga', among others) and been an asset to the David Dhawan-Govinda combo too. In spite of this, the composer duo phased out of the Bollywood scene around the turn of the Ccentury.
Now, the a film called “Yeh Khula Aasman” (releasing May 25) is bringing them back into the reckoning. Dealing with the sensitive issues of children in a stressful education system and of the increasing schism between parents and their kids, the film has given the duo the scope that they were looking for. Kunal Ganjawala's rendition of the theme song, ‘Har Ghadi', is already climbing up the popularity charts, and the brothers are excited with the reaffirmation in their talent. Excerpts from an interview.
What were the reasons behind your exit from the industry?
Milind: Many. One of the biggest was that producers started taking multiple music composers for a single film and we weren't happy with this concept. Now we are open to it. Also, producers who preferred making films with us, stopped making films altogether. Moreover, newer filmmakers and newer composers came into the market.
How much has the industry changed since your exit?
Anand: Every three to five years, the flavour of music is bound to change. But technology has advanced without being put to good use. A good song is made of two parts: good melody and good writing. Nowadays, composers select the loops first and then fit the baseline. Ten days later, they inject the melody. This is a reverse process!
‘Yeh Khula Aasman' (YKA) is a sensitive film. Was designing the music for it a challenge in today's fast-paced music world?
Anand: We enjoyed composing music for ‘YKA'. We used to get narrations for gangster films where the directors would have no clue about where to ‘fit' the songs. In fact, we recently had a subject discussion with a director who plainly told us that we needed to compose a one-and-a-half-minute song which he ‘might' use as an item number! When Gitanjali Sinha (director of ‘YKA') came to us with this subject, we realised the story had scope for music. We have composed six tracks for it, and each has a unique setting ranging from romance to a lullaby. She had just one instruction: ‘I don't want anything orchestrated, leave aside what anybody says about the music sounding old'. We were impressed.
‘YKA' happened to you after nine years without anything interesting in between. How different was the experience?
Milind: We were excited to compose for ‘YKA'. There are no forced songs in it. What usually happens is that if one ‘Munni badnaam hui' gets popular, every producer wants a replica. But what they don't realise is that a milestone is a milestone. If repeated, it loses its flavour. Gitanjali was very open to fresh concepts. She never said no to the lullaby saying it's not commercial. I had complete satisfaction while composing for ‘YKA' as much as for a ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak', a ‘Dil' or an ‘Anaari'.
Would you agree that a not-so-commercial film will impact the reach of your music?
Milind: I believe good cinema gets good audiences. Yes, times have changed and the biggest change is that publicity is required for everything. Getting it across to the audience is a huge task and we hope the maximum number of people listen to our songs.
Are you open to the idea of composing for commercial cinema too?
Anand: Of course, we are. We hope to impress our listeners with music that bears our stamp. We have straddled all genres successfully.
Which are the names that have impressed you with their musical skills?
Anand: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Pritam.
Milind: Lyricists Amitabh Bhattacharya and Irshad Kamil.