Interviews

Sajid Ali Khan of the famed Sajid-Wajid duo chats

One of Bollywood’s favourite music director-duos, Sajid-Wajid revealed their passion for composing music in the film industry. The composers of the popular track ‘Mashallah’ from ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ had an exclusive chat with us during their visit to Dubai. Sajid Ali Khan spoke to us on behalf of both himself and his younger brother, Wajid Ali Khan. Here’s what he had to say……

In your opinion, what is the biggest trend in Bollywood that you have observed?
I think it’s a masala style that we are listening to, in most of the Bollywood tracks.
Indian culture is so vast that we can bring in a bit of Ghazals, Bhajans, Qawali or Pop tunes into the beats and make it sound groovy, yet retain the soul of the song. Indian music is filled with versatility and we can choose to combine various genre of music to make it popular.

What makes your music a signature ‘Sajid-Wajid’ track?
We stick to the principle of sustaining a melody in each of our composition and we think that each melody is unique. So, melody is what we believe, a common man hopes to hear and if it’s simple, it grabs the attention of the listener and soon they start to hum the song. We use acoustics and all sorts of instruments (both old and new) in our music.
Our day usually starts with a chilled out discussion across the table with the singers, as to how the music should be made for the film we are working on. I can’t say we have a specialised tune as we just like to go with the flow, so, no set methods as such. We like to keep it simple for the common man. A song with a good tune whether a relaxing or a fast number with simple lyrics, sooner or later becomes a hit among the masses.

What according to you makes your music stand out from other music directors?
Stand out from others? (laughs). It’s an easy formula we follow….we always remain to be an active listener with an ear to the music that surrounds our large society. We unwind with our family and friends, travel a lot and learn about the various cultures and the music scene of the countries we go to and that helps us to compose songs and that’s exactly what happened when we started to work for the music of ‘Partner’ in 2008. We like to surprise our audience by experimenting with various tunes and adding variety in our compositions.

Who has been your current inspiration in music?
We take inspiration from people we meet across the globe. For us, Salman Khan and his family have always been a great support. Salman helped us by allowing us to score music in Sohail Khan’s ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kiya’ in 1998. He was our support who helped us in Bollywood and he has always backed us. So, we are thankful to Salman for being there for us in our times of need and making us who we are today. He is our mentor and Godfather. We also get motivation from our family and the world music.
We travel a lot and attend film festivals as well, so during our trips, we explore music from those countries and their cultures. We like Arabic music a lot and the melody that Arabic songs have in them.

Which films are you currently working on?

Well, I can’t reveal much about our current projects. You have to watch out for our next ventures, laughs Sajid Khan. But we are excited about ‘Chashme Buddoor’ and ‘Ishkq in Paris’. We want to rock with our music and be different in every song’s composition so that people enjoy our tunes and like our work each time we compose a song in Bollywood. We are also looking forward to performing in live concerts in Mumbai and other regions in India and for us performance is very important, be it in music direction or a live show.

What is that one change you would want to see in Indian music?
In my view, people should start to love the melody that each and every song has. We should learn to accommodate culture and the wide variety of melodies that the world music has. I believe that every house has a musician living in it and that people should be proud of the fact that they can also sing if they start to listen and study music. Also, I feel that the audience like our music, so the only change that I would just want is their love to be totally unlimited for us and that we hope the crowd gives us their support and encourage us to churn out more groovy and fantastic tunes because the audience is our motivator and our king.

Do you think schools should include music as a subject for children to improve the perception of music in our country (India)?
This is a question I have always been waiting to answer because it really a fantastic thought and I’m glad it has come my way now to answer. I strongly agree that music should undoubtedly be introduced as a subject in school because I think that music is a necessity of every person’s life. It helps to refresh your moods and it’s your invisible friend who is always there to cheer you up or support you in low-days of life. In this fast paced world, there is so much stress that people forget to live their moments happily. In schools, children are also undergoing so much pressure these days so I think that the principals of every school should start music in classes and train students as they will learn to live life through music and become popular singers too, hopefully in the years to come.

You have judged Zee TV’s reality show ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar’ in 2010, so what is the selection criteria you look for in youngsters who aspire to become playback singers?
To be honest we did the reality show to find out young talents in India and see if they can sing well in terms of the Sur, Taal etc. and live up to the that song’s melody and perform live on stage and entertain the crowd like how a playback singer does. But both Wajid and I don’t have much affinity towards doing a reality show as we feel that reality shows explore talents in the country in a wrong way. Young singers can’t be professionals overnight and we as judges too don’t expect such a rapid change. But reality shows have a format and they have a short telecast period too.
Anyway, we hope to start with our Sajid-Wajid music academy and train students on a one-to-one basis so that they will have time to learn properly and understand all elements of music and adopt singing with full passion. Reality shows are based on show ratings with a sole aim of making money through their television ratings but we don’t like to be money-minded, that’s a big no-no! We are from the musical gharana called the Kirana gharana and we want to teach and spread the knowledge and love of music by establishing a musical academy soon in Mumbai.

When are you planning to visit Dubai? 

Well, I have come here a few times earlier and have visited a few places here. Wajid and I totally love Dubai. The city’s rich and gorgeous attractions want us to come here again every time we spend timeout. The culture, music, cuisine and its multi-lingual and multi-cultural environment has a lot to discover and Dubai remains new always in that sense. The Dubai Mall and Mall Of the Emirates are our favourite hangout destinations. We also had been to a few Iftar evenings around town and enjoyed our time meeting new people from the city. This was a short three days trip but we plan to come back here again real soon, sometime during the release of ‘Ek Tha Tiger’.

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