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Music man with a golden touch

From business studies to martial arts, from in-flight music to chartbusting pop albums, Jawahar Wattal has not left many stones unturned. And what luck, they all turn into gemstones! SANJEEV CHOUDHARY chats with the kingmaker of Indipop... .

Photo: S. Arneja

Jawahar Wattal... Putting Delhi on the map of Indipop. Photo: S. Arneja

ONCE A three-year-old kid listening to the beat of a band party at a marriage ceremony ran away to closely observe the power of the music that left him spellbound. And it was that passion that eventually made him an unforgettable name in the world of Indipop. Jawahar Wattal was that young boy, many many summers ago. Now, he is a household name across the country with youngsters swearing by his work. He was at South Delhi's swanky Oxygen restaurant-cum-bar the other day, talking of his life, taking a trip down memory lane.

It was his philosophy of "create something different to inspire in place of inspire to create" that worked wonders for him. Surrounded by all the great names of music, treading the path of glory was not a cakewalk for this black belt in martial art and an MBA in Advertising and Marketing. But his belief in karma, and a deposition of perseverance, honesty and confidence towards work made him one of India's top music composers, directors and producers. Jawahar Wattal is best known as a pioneer in the Indian pop scene and for putting Delhi on the map of the Indian music industry.

After his first foray into professional music - he composed in-flight music for the domestic carrier Indian Airlines - there was no looking back. No one can forget Daler Mehndi's foot tapping "Bolo Tara Ra Re", which had everyone dancing, whether the environment be rural, semi-rural, urban, discotheque or even a moving car. There was hardly a place untouched by his magic.

But it was only the beginning of a saga of never ending hits of the 90's, including 19 top selling albums like Daler Mehndi's "Dardi Rab Rab" and "Ho Jayegi Balle Balle", Shubha Mudgal's "Ali More Angana", Shweta Shetty's "Deewane To Deewane Hain", Hans Raj Hans' "Jhangar", Bhupi Chawla's "Jogiya Khalli Balli", Ila Arun's "Haule Haule", Malkit Singh's "Paaro", Ali Haider's "Mahi O Mahi" and Sujat Khan's "Lajo Lajo". These have included everything from Punjabi bhangra to Rajasthani folk, Christmas carols to Sufiana and ghazals, and even a pop album in Tamil.

Wattal, dressed in his favourite blue denims adds, "So far I have composed 72 music albums, out of which 15 went platinum, not to mention the prestigious Channel V award for the best music composer in 1998 - competing with A.R.Rehman's `Vande Matram'. My work has also given birth to some of today's best known Indipop superstars like Daler Mehndi, Shubha Mudgal, Hans Raj Hans, Malkit Singh, Bhupi, Shweta Shetty, Ali Haider to name a few."

His uncanny ability to predict what will be popular with the masses tomorrow, his professional attitude combined with a constant quest for excellence, originality and perfection have spelt success for him. But quite unfazed with his popularity and matchless success Wattal is still a very simple person with his feet firmly on the ground. As he puts it, "Being simple is the best. Life is being yourself. My mission is to spread the message of love and friendship through my music. If I can give my minimum contribution to it, I'll be more than happy."

Wattal has scored music for tele-serials like "The World This Week", "Himalaya Darshan", "Newsline", "Sanjha Choolah". He has more than 3000 jingles to his credit, including those for Ponds, Pepsi, Hero Honda, KLM, Lufthansa, Nescafe, Maggi and Mirinda. He is quite disheartened by the ongoing trend of the Indipop industry. "Every day some artiste or the other comes up. None of them has patience to wait. Overnight they want stardom and run after money. As a music composer it's very disturbing for me. One should empathise with music and make it reachable and understandable to everyone, be it kids or old people. Music is a sadhana and not business. It is good to stick to your basics and do regular riyaz to improve skill."

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