Playing with fire

Mohan, lead vocalist of Indian rock band Agnee, reveals that they are re-composing some old classics for their upcoming album, and paying tribute to songs they grew up listening to

When Pune-based Indian rock band Agnee came up with the song Hello Andheron for the Hindi dubbed version of The Avengers in 2012, there were many who praised the band’s creation. However, the artistes were not prepared for some of the nasty remarks that came their way too. “The song put us out there as an artiste for millions of people who didn’t know we existed. However, the recognition wasn’t all good,” says Mohan, the lead vocalist of Agnee. Elaborating, he says that many people wrote comments on YouTube saying they’d burn the movie hall if The Avengers played their song in the end, or things like ‘how can Disney have a Hindi song for Avengers’. “But some music reviewers loved it. I remember reading a review from Los Angeles where this guy said, ‘I don’t know what any of the words mean, but the guitar solo is badass.’ I loved reading that,” Mohan adds. 

Mohan, lead vocalist of Agnee and Koco, the band’s lead guitarist, have composed music for Abbas Tyrewala’s upcoming film Mango 

The band, however, is above such comments and instead, choose to focus on the work they are doing. Mohan has recently sung the song Kinaare for Amit Trivedi for the movie Queen. The singer, who tends to sing less for other composers, primarily because he likes to focus on his single brand identity of being Mohan from Agnee, chose to make an exception for Trivedi as he’s a good friend. “Amit knows very well how to cast a voice. That’s a fantastic quality to have, and it ensures his songs get delivered just the way he hears them in his head,” says Mohan, who’s also sung for Pritam and for Shankar Ehsaan Loy (SEL) earlier. “Singing for other composers helps me learn, in terms of how they deal with their role as music directors, and also with varying composition styles and in some cases, ways to deliver my own voice. I discovered a very different kind of my own singing in Khanabadosh (SEL) and Life yeh mausambi si (Pritam). In moderation, it’s great to sing for other composers,” he adds.

On the composing front, Mohan and lead guitarist Koco, have a couple of films such as Mango by Abbas Tyrewala and Bakrapur by Janakai Vishwanathan lined up. “Mango has been our best work till date. Bakrapur has us exploring our more rustic side, with folk instrumentation and qawwali kind of compositions. It’s been great working with both directors,” the singer says.

The duo also got a chance recently to compose for one of their favourite singers, Rekha Bhardwaj, for a song called Sakhi saiyyaan for a show on Life OK called Gustakh Dil. “I’ve always been a fan of Rekhaji’ s voice, and since this song screamed out for her, it was a blessing. Once I got the chance to meet her, I became a fan of the person she is and the way she delivers a song with such ease,” he says.

In the pipeline is also an album where they are re-composing some of the most epic old classics. But isn’t that a somewhat risky proposition, considering people may not take to it? “It’s a risky project but we have done it with honesty. We are genuinely trying to pay a tribute to the tunes and words that gave us so much happiness growing up, so we hope our final renditions will turn out well,” he concludes.

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