ARTS TRIBUNE Friday, November 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India
 

Shaan prefers crooning to playback singing
Vibhuti Mehta

A
WARD-winning Indipop singer Shantanu Mukherjee, aka Shaan, prefers to croon his own tunes than go in for playback singing. Ask him the difference between playback singing and cutting a pop album, he says, "In playback singing, you are singing for somebody else and while singing you’ll have to keep the actor in mind on whom the song will be picturised. Playback singing helps broaden your abilities and explore the best in you since you’ll have to sing songs in different styles."

AUDIOSCAN
Only conventional sounds for Esha Deol
ASC

  • Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe (Tips)
  • Rajashree Pathak (HMV)
  • Meh vi kalla tu vi kalhi (Moon)

SIGHT & SOUND

Media women: the winners and the losers
Amita Malik

O
NE of the noticeable features of the media coverage of the Afghan war is the number of women out in the field, in danger spots, sometimes near the front lines. Thus, while the Taliban put their women into strict purdah, persecuted them cruelly, and even executed them publicly and banned them from any outdoor activity, they did not seem to mind being interviewed by women, even if it was Lyse Doucet of the BBC questioning their ambassador in Islamabad. The earlier coverage of the war from the Northern Alliance territory again had several women reporters, notably from the BBC and a few from CNN.

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Shaan prefers crooning to playback singing
Vibhuti Mehta

AWARD-winning Indipop singer Shantanu Mukherjee, aka Shaan, prefers to croon his own tunes than go in for playback singing.

Ask him the difference between playback singing and cutting a pop album, he says, "In playback singing, you are singing for somebody else and while singing you’ll have to keep the actor in mind on whom the song will be picturised. Playback singing helps broaden your abilities and explore the best in you since you’ll have to sing songs in different styles."

Dressed in trendy casual clothes with hair falling on his face, Shaan, who was in New Delhi recently for a music concert, talked to UNI sitting relaxed in the lobby of a hotel. A bevy of teenyboppers hung around in the background, occasionally interrupting the conversation with requests for autographs which he complied to with a flourish.

After one such interruption, he quickly returns to the topic, "Even when I sing for somebody else, I keep inserting words in the song without affecting its flow. But in a pop album I have full liberty to do things my way."

"That is the basic difference — in playback singing there are some guidelines and a framework which you have to adhere to while in a pop album you are free to do what you want. That is why I prefer private albums from crooning for films because then I am my own master," he added.

"I will have the full liberty but then I will also have the responsibilities which come with writing lyrics for songs, composing music and singing them. I can’t tolerate any kind of interference from any quarter. I will be 100 per cent committed to the album whereas I’ll not have much say in playback singing. It is the music director who’ll decide finally," Shaan said.

"But I think I am very lucky because all music directors I have worked with have given me a free hand to do my own thing. Like the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio. A.R. Rahman just gives you the music sheet and asks you to let go," he added.

Shaan has not got any formal training in music. "I feel what matters is that song should be sung to its full potential. It doesn’t matter whether you have received any formal training if you are able to tap the full potential of the song," he said.

And no one is complaining either because music runs in his genes. His father Manas Mukherjee had scored music for films like "Shayad" and "Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai".

Starting his career by singing ad jingles, Shaan came into the limelight with Biddu’s "Roop Inka Mastana", a remixed version of R.D. Burman’s songs and featured various singers. Then came his first pop album "Naujawan" in 1996 with sister Sagarika which did not do too well.

However, 1996 was quite a busy year for him as his another album — his first solo —"Lovelogy" followed soon. After four years of hibernations and solitude, he delivered a hit with "Tanha Dil" in 2000 for which he recently won Screen Videocon’s Best Pop Album award.

"Tanha Dil" is very close to my heart may be because I have penned the lyrics for eight songs in the album. It is my baby and I feel very possessive about it. I think this is the best album I have made so for because I gave it the best I had," he said.

Shaan, who made his debut in playback singing with "Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi", has lent his voice to hit songs from a sweet romantic Musu musu... and Woh pehli baar... from "PMKK", Ghanan shanan... his is one of the six voices used in the song from "Lagaan", to a soulful Tune mujhe pehchana nahin.... from "Raju Chacha", to a peppy Koi kahe kehta rahe... and Woh ladki hai kahan.... from "Dil Chahta Hai".

In "Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai (BISKH), he dominates the credits with five songs, including Yeh hawain... in his kitty.

About his recent movie "Dil Chahta Hai", he says it was fun working with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. "I had great time working with them. They are so flexible in their approach towards work that you feel very comfortable."

About his future plans, Shaan says, "I am working on my next album which will hopefully be out in December this year. The name of the album hasn’t been finalised yet. But the album will feature 12 to 13 songs by seven to eight singers. I’ll pen the lyrics and compose music for the album. At this stage, I am in the process of selecting songs. After the songs are finalised, we’ll decide on the singers for the album."

"As far as playback singing is concerned. I have one song O rey kanchi... in Santosh Sivan’s ‘Asoka’ under the banner of Shah Rukh Khan’s Arclightz and Films. Then I have Deewana main ho gaya... in Sunny Deol’s home ‘Indian’, Main prem diwani hoon... with Anu Malik, and Vashu Bhagnani’s ‘Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein’ and ‘Deewanapan’," he said.

Shaan, who has crooned for almost all young actors like Dino Morea, Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan and Abhishek Bachchan, dreams to reach great heights in the music industry and with a track record like his, he would be one to reckon with in the coming years. UNI
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AUDIOSCAN
Only conventional sounds for Esha Deol
ASC

Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe (Tips): This film is the launch vehicle for Hema Malini’s pretty daughter Esha Deol. Normally, when a star in the making is to be delivered, the producers make it a point to give a dash of freshness to everything about the film, particularly its music (take for instance "Kaho Na Pyar Hai"). Incidentally, Rajesh Roshan is the composer for "KMDSP" also. However, here he sticks to conventional tunes which are as old as the hills. To be sure, these are sweet and enjoyable, but are about as fresh as the offerings of Laxmikant Pyarelal used to be when they were at their busiest.

The album gives a break to new voice Pamela Jain. She does not leave much of an impression in the chorus Hanse time tim ..., but is promising in a dutes Jab tu muskurati hai ... with Udit Narayan and Mat ho udas ... with Shaan. Rajesh Roshan has also handed the mike to Kamaal Khan (Lapak jhapak ...).

The main male singer is Udit Narayan who presents three songs besides the title number. Sonu Nigam has two to his credit, Aawara main baadal ... with Hema Sardesai and Tera bhala kare bhagwan ... which is a chorus.

The main lyrics writer is also new, Suryabhanu Gupt. A few songs have also been penned by Ibrahim Ashk and Dev Kohli.

Rajashree Pathak (HMV): HMV is no longer much into film music and has instead concentrated either re-release of golden oldies or classical music. That switchover may have been a compulsion, but has been a great boon for lovers of serious music.

Rajashree Pathak has been the recipient of the National Talent Search Scholarship in Hindustani classical music. She had won the first prize in thumri-singing and the second prize in ghazal-singing in a competition organised by Akashvani in 1981 when she was only 18 years old. Today, she is an A-grade Akashvani artiste in light classical music. She has received training in Hindustani classical and light classical music from Mukta Bhide, the late Sarala Bhide and Shobha Gurtu.

In this album, she has sung a traditional thumri in Manjh Khamaj, a dadra (Ja bairi ja badra ...) and four Holi songs composed by Prabhat Gangola.

Meh vi kalla tu vi kalhi (Moon): The Sahotas is a band comprising five brothers on the bhangra scene dedicated to Punjabi pop. Their "Jeeto" made some splash and now they have come up with this album that has more vigour and adrenalin.

It features eight songs, "with a Westernised feel, but an Indian soul". As the title makes abundantly clear, most of these are about love. Actually, every one of the eight songs is meant for the dance floor.

Sahotas sing with passion and have a fluent beat to back them up. Given the popularity gained by the video of the title song picturised in the exotic locations of Goa, it should have a decent run.

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SIGHT & SOUND
Media women: the winners and the losers

Amita Malik

ONE of the noticeable features of the media coverage of the Afghan war is the number of women out in the field, in danger spots, sometimes near the front lines. Thus, while the Taliban put their women into strict purdah, persecuted them cruelly, and even executed them publicly and banned them from any outdoor activity, they did not seem to mind being interviewed by women, even if it was Lyse Doucet of the BBC questioning their ambassador in Islamabad. The earlier coverage of the war from the Northern Alliance territory again had several women reporters, notably from the BBC and a few from CNN. And of course, the all-knowing Christiane Amanpour, no longer the sole queen of the warfront, popping up importantly at the beginning of an event, then vanishing from the scene and then turning up again towards the climax. In any case, my faith in her sabjanta attitude was shaken when, in Kolkata for Mother Teresa’s funeral, she not only spoke in very patronising tones about Kolkata and India, but also expressed great surprise that there were any Christians in India. Obviously she is only reliable on basic facts when in familiar territory. If we did not see other women reporters it must be because they were covering the war for channels not seen in India or in languages not understood here.

So we were doubly shattered when we heard that Maria Grazia Cutuli was one of the four journalists who were dragged out of their car, stoned and then shot while on their way from Jalalabad to Kabul. Ironically, Maria had filed her biggest scoop, phials of nerve gas she found in a room abandoned by the Taliban, and it was front page news in her paper, Carriere Della Sera, only last Monday, the day she was killed. We can only salute our colleague who died in the line of duty. I think our first woman war correspondent was Prabha Dutt, mother of Barkha. She asked her paper, The Hindustan Times, if she could go to the war front to cover, as far as I remember, the tank battle at Khem Karan in 1965. The paper refused as they considered it too risky for a woman. So Prabha went all the same on her own and her despatches were carried. Since then we have had her daughter Barkha, and Radhika Bordia, setting off for Kargil and getting some splendid stories. One of my favourites is Radhika’s coverage of the Ladakh Scouts climbing up a sheer cliff like mountain goats. But considering what can happen in Afghanistan and the way the Taliban in particular look on women, presumably other than white women in skirts or trousers, I am rather relieved that no Eastern woman, except one from CNN who looks and sounds like a Chinese from Hong Kong has covered the war, but she has been operating from inside Pakistan.

From the war front and brave women to those in South Africa in the Miss World contest. I squirm every time I watch the baby talk by the sponsors to women who have to undress, walk and talk in a predictable way and then give mostly silly answers to trite questions. The five finalists this year were mostly unfamiliar with English and some needed interpreters. One wept for pretty Miss China who replied through her interpreter that her favourite woman was Nelson Mandela. And one suspects Miss Nigeria got the crown because having achieved their main aim, which is selling cosmetics and other consumer goods after all that hype, in whichever area wins — it was Latin America some time go, and then of course India, they now had to move the beauty bazaar to Africa. Glad it was not cricket, otherwise South Africa might have had apartheid there too.

TAIL-PIECE: There is something which has been bothering me for some time. We have all watched world leaders, some with the highest security, as they go about their meetings with other leaders and hold press conferences. One can assume that all of them, particularly the American and Russian Presidents, are given the highest security by hand-picked guards. But they are neither seen nor heard and we can never spot them. We have all been led to believe that the secret should remain part of the woodwork and never obvious. But when it comes to security for our PM and other VIPs, our securitymen stand four-square on either side and behind, as if it is a family portrait, sticking out a mile in their natty suits, and looking straight at the cameras for the benefit of the folks at home. No other country has securitymen who hog the cameras, make themselves so conspicuous and behave more like film stars than the secret service. Time someone did something about it.

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