Intezaar – The Wait!!

INTEZAAR is a short film cum song video conceived and produced by Ahsif Khan, with my music and lyrics alongwith their team of young aspiring cinematic professionals and actors. It is due for release on 14th August, 2018 to commemorate on India’s Independence Day – the FEELINGS carried by families of armed forces personnel and seafarers who stay for long periods away in service and welfare of their nation and world at large..

Ahsif Khan is a very unusual friend. He is perhaps less than half my age, so is his cinematic team. He has won accolades and awards in international arena even before he finished his cinematic education in India recently. More importantly, he reminisces and dreams; which is what I have done in the real world of business to find ‘new business’ and now doing for music and a trajectory for thematic cinema or video – so it kind-of…jives!

This morning as I was planning to write this brief about how this idea to collaborate for this film came about, I read a HT column on Alia Bhatt. Despite all the ‘dodo jokes’ surrounding the outspoken star of Bollywood, she says “it is Experiences which make a person what he/she is not the age”. Maybe she was referring to her link up with Ranbir Kapoor, but then she is daughter of Mahesh Bhatt and done fantastically in challenging roles that would have made legendary actresses proud.

This above, is an apt simile to introduce Ahsif Khan, whom I met at a glittering award function at Film City, Hyderabad where we were felicitated for divergent recognitions – him for his short films and me for business & a passion for music (maybe!). Over these 3 years since, we have been in touch sharing ideas. So when he narrated this story of a family of a young man posted on warfronts, who wait for him (that’s all they CAN do !) and finally get hit by tragic news, I said “but Ahsif, what’s so new about this?”.

I recalled the old Dev Anand movies, “Hum Dono”, “Rang de Basanti” and so many more where the music is legendary and an all-timer. But the reason he gave astounded me.

He said “I am from Bangladesh and since I was a kid I was very influenced by the way Indian troops came to free his country” and the old oneness from days of Mukti Bahini. I was instantly transported back to my days in Delhi Public School at times when as kids we were overwhelmed and wore our patriotism on our sleeves. I was one of the few boys in school choir who sang patriotic songs each morning and somehow that became a trigger for music as a passion for all times. Yes I wrote a few then as well, even as my friends would envy that the choir kept me in closer touch with the best girls in school.

So it was within 5 minutes for reading his synopsis and script and I said the most obvious thing –

“ye kahani to purani hai,

par na meri na tumhari hai

inko dekho, inko jaano

khel jinka jaan ki baazi hai.

Shaan-ae -Hasti…QURBANI hai…

Ye Kahani…to purani hai!!”

Intezaar, Intezaar, aur thoda Intezaar…

Intezaar, Intezaar…

Translated:

This is an age old story (nothing new!)

But (more importantly), it is not of me or you!

Look at these guys, understand their feeling

For whom laying your life out is (just) a game!

Their ESTEEM itself lies in SACRIFICE~~

Waiting, Waiting, a little more to wait….(in chorus)!!

 In a way my prediction when we were speaking with each other in Hyderabad and on his later trips to Delhi when we met briefly, were coming true that “one day we will embark on a cinematic and musical project”. The FEELINGS have no country, caste or creed so in this patriotic song you will not see a country flag! These are people who carry the ‘flag’ in their heart.

So, this came out as a message from my lyrics that were writing themselves through a long ‘experience’ and that’s why Alia Bhatt I salute you and all young folks with confidence that the country is still one of immense intellect and it is the TIMES which spur us to keep our inbuilt love for our flags and ethos to dynamic action.

There is a broader aspect to understand collaborations like “Intezaar” and what has always made aspiring musicians, artistes, filmmakers, actors to invest in their own ideas even when these are ‘opportunity costs’ to a more normally enjoyable life at any age and building our family assets? I think this as way of God and fact that all kinds of people can collaborate with only pre-requisite “do you have a heart or passion?”. I have learnt in my experience that this is what keeps this ilk apart from rest of humanity.

So what is “Intezaar” all about? It is about what we all wait for; it is when we aspire, toil to achieve. The Border and Frontlines on international sphere do not come without risks. Isn’t that what our kinds do too? We risk our money, our families to create what? Just a song that does not meet what goes – “jo chalta hai”. In the end they become Anurag Kashyaps too but Karan Johars too find their trajectories and not just from money!

So, INTEZAAR is for people who risk their lives and happiness, enjoyment, etc. to fight crazy odds of everyday life. There has been no war since the Bangladesh war. But does that mean that risks are less? We are reading so many things even corruption, raw arms deals and that’s what the movies talk. There is no need for a new story, in fact; just that we need to keep reminding each other of ‘ordinary stories’ with BIG feelings that are life-changing, impacting health, aspirations and life the way we normally desire to live.

When I graduated from the Marine Engineering college in ‘70s, there came news of some of my seniors who died in a series of mishap with leakage of ‘deathly gases’ from septic tank. The friend who went to save the colleague too died and then another who tried saving them both – he died too. A Captain of a ship held hostage in Somalia and families fighting unexpected battles – the families fight…only AFTER that the administration, isn’t it?

This sums up “Intezaar” from my side. As in every business, “the cheque is in the mail” – if and only if  – friends and well-wishers motivate and support…so please share and view a 100 times for sake of this ODD TEAM of investors in themselves and FEELINGS of a crucial section of society whose struggles go generally unsung.

PS: Patriotism is not an idea that can be forced into our psyche and ethos. It is not even understandable in simplicity, nor obvious where it exists. It is just there…where it needs to be and when its time does come! This is the message in the film and song “intezaar” for this Independence Day, 15th August, 2018.

Other Music:

https://www.youtube.com/yog007esh

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(with Ahsif Khan, first meeting at INDYWOOD, 2016)

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Nobody Appreciates my Music ☹

It’s the World Music Day today ! It comes suddenly. It’s not on my list of holidays, even at my home studio; nor have I ever celebrated it by going for a concert, or even listen to my favorite playlists. I get to read it in magazine section of the newspaper, where our favorite musicians world over are ruing over their trysts and struggles than celebrating their success. This is how my heart bleeds too and I feel for once, I am part of who’s who, whatsoever I may be seen as, by the world around me.

But am I qualified? This is an unasked question by music fraternity of whom, over the years alongside of my long corporate and professional engineering career, I have been faced with.

Why am I happy? Because at 60+ now, I started learning nuances of music at age 52 when I gave up a full time job to record a music album. As it stands, the album is still in making as the race between capital that goes into doing one independently and what I might use to run my life and family is endless. But sure, it has allowed me fantastic improvements, to master songwriting, composing, playing many instruments, programming music digitally, mixing and mastering it – all by myself as I carry a briefcase studio to my core jobsites! It does not guarantee keeping up with the massive technological and marketing transformations that the music industry goes through.

Ten years ago, I was recording one of my compositions in voice of the well known singer from south N. Srinavas himself an engineer by profession before he gave it up to be amongst the top playback singers, singing Bollywood hits from ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Yuvraj’, etc. He said that even sitting in office in initial stages of his career, he had made up his mind where his heart is. Story of Shankar Mahadevan and many others is similar. So in my case, this 50-50 life between my 50s and 60s was fraught with ‘ugliness’ to say the least!

Taking my daughter to A. R. Rahman’s K.M School of Music when I was living in Chennai; the lady in charge said that here we encourage our students to have an alternate profession and not give up their studies until they are sure they have made ‘the mark’; she was voicing Mr. Rahman’s belief, as one who has collaborated with genius he saw in musicians from diverse sectors, countries and genres. There it was, I came in touch with Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan through his sons and his words ring in my ears too “if we have not learnt how to live our life, we are wasting our time doing music”.

Today, that I am wiser, I think this is what musicians and singers are ruing, ‘cribbing’, mourning in their fate as musicians “does the public even understand what they are doing?” Even a successful composer like Amit Trivedi says that constantly dealing with rejection is part and parcel of being even popular and successful. With aspiring classical musicians around me in Delhi, who despite best of training have stories that can often even be grim and saddening.

I occasionally sing and record myself to Bollywood tracks, experimentally most of the times. I post them on YouTube if a particular track has some ‘special quality’ mainly for closer friends, family and seeking critique of professionals. I sang “Moh Moh ke Dhaage” recently after seeing videos of how difficult it was for composer Anu Malik to put this song together and repeated trials with singers Papon and Monali Thakur who took time to do it ‘perfect’, but have made a name with this song. I wanted to see why was it so difficult. Recording myself, with nobody directing; then mixing it on my own was very challenging even technically, as resonance-frequency conflicts tend to make tracks sound out of tune in places. But it was too much work so I kept perfection asides. But an associate classical musician calling the whole of me “besura” (tuneless) as a singer itself followed by the advice that I should give up music – was height of critique. It does of course energize me to leave no stone unturned in finishing my “Main” productions, whenever that shall be!

So all I can request is “bear with us please”, understand our specific circumstances. To make a song like Bollywood costs lakhs and lakhs of rupees to get heard and a video of cinema quality must accompany it for a now impatient world entangled in euphoria to make it worth even listening. But that cannot stop a man for whatever age and mettle – as life has the journey as its subset and my kinds enjoy the journey!

We are on the path just to that, but we work for no guarantees just like the infrastructure and power projects I have done in my life, that took more than ten years of follow-up as a business development professional and then to come for tendering; then we competed with the best in the world to see profits, or losses and yes, even many careers rolling downhill! Let’s face the RISKS of a blessed life with dignity; for people like us, who toil towards their own respective state of “perfection” and combined perfection of equally talented and dynamic teams. And yes, I was and am, a very special man….and music is just another “business” to me!

Crowded on ‘World Population Day’?

 

Today is world population day, wow!

The ‘wow’ is of course satirical because, “well, which day is not?”

As I am growing older and older I am feeling I am getting crowded more and more by the day and that’s even during periods when I have literally locked myself in to my work place.

The population speaks to me through the pings and birdy tunes of social media punishment I face each day through messages streaming into my cell phone and I bear for you who is reading me….”sir / madam…apologies for the strain” but I like it when you do, so thanks!

Everybody has a view on everything nowadays, be it Good Mornings and there was yesterday even a ‘Close Friend’s Day’ and the saddest part was that only ‘one’ person wished me and who knew about that…or was he lying? Yes I do feel blessed for the good things, but take this one I received from one fine gentleman this morning……“Relation is like glass. A scratch on one side will reflect on the other side too because a scratch can never be removed. Good Morning!”

My eyes popped out as it comes from a 5% friend, 10% business associate and 85% ‘daily-juice’ of awkward interaction, which has actually gone on for a year somehow. A mole or a hole in my professional enterprise; a man whom some day, some time I inadvertently punched on wrong side…so many things that I am wondering as I reply “Man…was that a threat or a wish?”

Then there are “groups”. I signed off some more intimate ones for I was afraid an error could ‘scratch’ a relationship. But there are groups like my local resident groups where I am just curious to know what’s going on, but they will crowd on me if I say something against somebody’s local policies and MCAs or MLA’s scouts would crowd up on me.

I post informal music ‘scratches’ of my in-process works at times to certain circles whom I imagine respect or enjoy musical endeavor from a man within whom so many careers and passions. I don’t mind worst of critique unless it tells a story of grudge or frustration of somebody else’s in their individual quest and so I never walk out of an argument or a discussion. Like today I finally took to tell this learned musician friend who persistently tells me I am out-of-tune for mere ‘scratches’ and keeps mum on others. I remind him that it was me who approached him for friendship because he is trained, learned and it was my desire to meet him more often as a source of improvement. The basic trust in anybody’s good intentions is gone truly gone and I have made my upper limits of patience too on my acceptance like others as to when I crowd them, so arguments may not be endless.

The ‘phenomenal diversity’ translates to my expressions through Blogs and Music on social media, leaving it to the WWW to take it to whosoever it matters. Even this has become highly technical and I am told there are paid ways to get a ‘million likes’ and that I should subscribe through the right channels, but that research takes away my time from the path so I haven’t so far ventured in that direction.

Then I turn the clock back to childhood dreams and realize that I am actually doing what I always wanted to do by this age and by that period in life – hurray! The whole problem here is that it is not only a more crowded world, it is also a lot more connected world. Not everybody likes a happy old man carrying on with kiddy stuff called aspirations and that I actually fight to better my own self and it’s not that my posts are ‘bragging’ some achievement. This is called mid-age crisis coming late or perhaps I am still younger than I ought to be –  is a query, better without further analytics.

A guy posting ‘stupidity’ or some oblique trick of photo-shopping designed to create an impact has more of a chance to get the ‘views’ and ‘likes’ than a God gifted writer or singer who is not yet known – that also depends on multitude of factors and a degree of luck or fate. Yet, I also realize that there is an available benchmark to how good is good and today, I can honestly claim through a regular tryst with social media, I have found that vision and target that I can aspire to, so I am not searching for compliments nor would I stand affected by that hint of ridicule.

Yet, the days go by, as fast as they do ,when we are not following which day it is, but that dream or a target; we wake up to realize, that an entire phase has passed us by and new trends have developed, the race around us for our objectives is again being lost.

Frankly I am enjoying the ‘race’ than dreams of the destination and the visible enjoyment in my quests would seem quite unrealistic otherwise. Of course, many are certain I have gone mad, must be!

I have even come to terms that there is no destination like ‘today’. So many who condemn my musical or other entrepreneurial efforts silently or vocally are seemingly quite perplexed even as I know there are so many well wishers in my life who are also praying for me to excel and succeed in these constant endeavors through social media to actually crowd an already crowded worldscape!

The point is this…that even in a crowded world we need to spot our own trajectory and the onus to crowd the crowd with our enthusiasm, glee and interest in life, the world and all that happens around us becomes a lot more attainable in these times of utmost chaos.

And this is to sum up what I have to say for the booming Indian and world population in times when as many are getting killed for frivolous reasons; it is astounding that we are no more hidden. So might as well be be open and inhumanly transparent with what we do and how we think. Uncle Google has us in tight grip anyway!

I don’t mind baring my weak sides for I believe that strong sides can always be dressed up to catch likes, but everybody cannot resort to being part of “the blooper’ gang. An established celebrity of any kind has every right to get his due but as people befriending people directly or through social media it is mutual encouragement of our progress and paths to success that makes a better and wonderful world.

No I am not an idealist. So I will carry this work, fight, or whatever and more of those benchmarks of ‘greatness’ in today’s world – the petty thumbsup called “Likes” will have to be somebody’s natural gut feel for recognizing g.o.o.d. people do which of course, is like finding THE hairpin from a cowshed full of hay….. Cheers!!

 

Indian Popular Music – my journey untold

(Featured image: courtesy T-Series, is just for inspiration from life of a legend in context of of this blog, but has no bearing of  having any kind of personal association with its content, but wishing “Mogul” the very best for its release)

It was early 1990s when returning from Mumbai to catch the Delhi bound flight I had just reached the counter to get my boarding pass when a short, sweaty, but a very good looking man in white kurta and a large red ‘tilak’ on forehead came running ahead of me in the Q. With a boyish grin he was apologetically imploring to the lady that he got late and must get on the flight ahead of the one that I was to board much later.

The man needed no introduction but he was saying “I am Gulshan Kumar” and there was such humility in the request that all waiting in the queue smiled for Ashiqi-1 had been released and was to be the highest grosser in history of Indian cinema and Music. T-Series was to outlive many upturns and downturns, but I will never forget a man who sold juice in my neighborhood of Daryaganj, Delhi during my youth and I did not know him then! But I sense a chord, pride and always infinite motivation in that temple of music called Golden Chariot Studios in Andheri, Mumbai and the gateman is still courteous even in his refusals when I just chance it on Mumbai trips to meet them.

It was exactly 10 years ago that I found myself sitting a good 4-5 hours in the plush all-white office of Mr. Bhushan Kumar at T-Series where Mr. Ajay Kapoor had courteously left me while we discussed my first attempt at a music album when I had just started making my own songs but knew very little about recorded music. An old overused cassette player amidst splendor and large posters of Bollywood stardom was a gaping oddity. Later on, seeing a similar gadget outside of A. R. Rahman’s studio in Chennai, it was to be one of my most fantastic lessons of music – the best music must sound ‘right’ on normal gadgets where majority of 1.25 billion Indians get to listen and it was that many times I posted a song which sounded good in my studio and horrible to the listener…so sorry folks – it takes time, okay!

Well, it would have been okay if I started in my teens when my charm was winning school and college audiences, but no sweat absolutely even now if some unlikely experts of what sells would link me to Sonu Nigam’s dad while you know what I would have liked, right? The great guru Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahab, kind enough to inaugurate my little studio set up and many associated with Bollywood music explained about ‘universality of music’ where in these times one must know about technology, markets, stories of musicians past and present and making best use of available resources in a ‘digital world’ that makes life easy and complex per our own quality of ‘usage’.

Note: This is background of my fresh single “Apni Kahaniyan” which says every musician/songwriter given his freedom will do it like his heart says (please listen to demo attached) not what goes (“chalta hai”) – my principles and advise to young musicians.

I am at a stage where I feel certain that mastery of every musical nuance may be a personal objective, but it is what we want to say with our music that counts and we will learn through this treacherous path  if ‘stardom’ be not the reason for a song to be born. My era of ‘concert for Bangladesh’ and “we are the world” is proof of the “power of reason” to do music.

Never satisfied with just one division in my core profession(s), I was completely confused with questions “are you coming as a singer, or a composer”. A lifetime stretching from Indian classical music of mom, writing my feelings into music even as a kid on harmonium and then winning 1st prizes for my own compositions sung at college fests; such questions had never even crossed my mind, so I said “I am all of them”. Of course people laugh, people question the very basics of my tonal qualities and ‘sound’ with even greater gusto and admonish. Yes, even my immediate family would do that and is my first test always!

I am twisting words of a fellow writer, but ‘it take years of a lifetime (in my mode of execution) to find that ONE song we have really done well’ and let’s add LoL, for its modernity in context of “Baby ko Bass pasand hai” so man, give her Bass. Munde ko “chaar botal vodka” and to me that great shabad and bhajan from AR, so fine man let’s just do what we must, else we are not even on the path and as long as we are restless it’s ON; we peep into some other’s exam paper and we are gone!

But if Mr. Gulshan Kumar is to be a symbol, then age, genre and just endless knowledge of music be damned. We often misread our gurus who emphasize the necessity of ‘perfection’; but more than anything what it needs is immense passion, a desire to appreciate other singers, music around the world, musicians of all kinds and ethos of an ever-changing society and it goes for parentage to know that a Badshah will sell ahead of a Pritam or Rahman and neither have any qualms about that!

So 10 years into making my music, I have entered a critical phase of creating a philosophy of balance of life from lessons of a lifetime; the basic essence of what’s music that created the great songwriters of the world from Bob Dylan, Beatles, Kenny Rogers, Cat Stevens and so many of western lyrical musicians of my own youth and admiration to how Indian popular music is presently unfolding and wishing ourselves well on WORLD MUSIC DAY that was day before yesterday 21/3.

The critical aspect is that it is Indian music where divisions were created to accommodate a infant Bollywood industry known for the legends when there used to have just ‘top 3 or 4’ male and female singers. Mr. Gulshan Kumar and T-Series were going to put all theories of ‘what is perceived as music’ into the can. Meeting ‘music- makers’ from music industry anywhere in the world I learnt most did not know all about music, but had the gut feel on what will be liked and sell but never 100% sure until it actually does! So, I personally just live on gut feel of what I think I want to make for the moment and each song I make convinces me it will be a hit – Kick A** man, I’ll do my own Bass n Kick as I know the technology after all my closed door madness of a decade even along with my fighting entrepreneurship.

 And I just believe that’s how the great world musicians whose LP covers are now decorated in my son’s room would have thought. Oh yes, sonny is learning the twine that connects past to present and we no longer argue over what’s music of today that will sell. This essentially is my victory that matters today as I write this blog.

And so I plead these great impact specialists who make the people who make music today, to go beyond the Bass and sexy video that sells phase, cuz I am kicking A** to tell the world what I think of their questions. Yet I am stringing past and present to start with my day with Indian classical ‘Alaap’ on harmonium, which then breaks into a ghazal or bhajan in a raga of choice and time and it is then that the Bass N Kick and what pleases my ears tells me “yes – that’s the MIX!”

And with these words I am attaching this demo clip of multiple songs from the 100s of songs on my ‘sessions’ (as I write songs faster than I can finish them). This all came, damning the ‘tabalchi’ who won’t come, the guitarist who is now playing for the movies and too busy for a virgin recording artiste of future – digital music where we fill in for them.

Also, now I do not use studio monitors to finish my music…I use the Chandni Chowk purchased desktop speakers or cheap headphones and damn if my pocket does not allow me that expensive microphone and hardware which would reduce my ‘takes’ despite pleading to my ‘investors’.

I am certain Mr. Gulshan Kumar would have thought similarly had he been up with my kind of bottlenecks and we can “Lol” or “;)” once again and hopefully the gut-feel will work this time round as I have made my core ‘engineering’ and ‘project must-do’ skills to make my studio adequate anyhow and thank you Mumbai, Chennai, Pro-Studio, Ableton Live and thank you – the legends of the past whom I have got to listen to and hence learn from.

The video and musical demo will appear through the link below to YouTube and please listen to them all through http://www.talentrack.in/yogeshmusic anytime….it’s the path, not the final MIX like ‘chicken marinaded’ but not “in the tandoor”:

also through

http://www.talentrack.in/yogeshmusic