Lalit Pandit: My sister Sulakshana struggled all her life

Updated: Jan 15, 2019, 08:30 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

Lalit Pandit says ample modes of entertainment implies there's enough work for singers today, unlike in the past; talks of recreating a classic

Lalit Pandit and sister Sulakshana Pandit
Lalit Pandit and sister Sulakshana Pandit

How do you approach a number as celebrated as Hum Honge Kaamyaab (for I Am Banni) when you need to rehash it?
Yes, the original is a cult song with a tune that can never be forgotten. I was told to retain the lyrics, and perhaps add new ones. The concept of women's education that the film banks on is an important one. I knew that while the tune had to be appealing, it was also crucial that the song be meaningful and impactful. I got the lyrics right, and made certain that they were inspiring enough for listeners. Then, I made the composition. It took two to three versions for me to zero in on one I liked.

Was it your decision to rope in several artistes, including Kanika Kapoor, Amruta Fadnavis, Akriti Kakkar and Shaan, for it?
Initially, I wanted only young female singers for it. Doing so would suit the film's theme, which is about a girl hoping to continue to study. I had a good line-up of young singers who brought an inherent energy to the song. While the makers liked it, they said we should have an antara with a few male singers so that we could depict a male voice that supports the women. The idea was to say that we [the men] are with you [women]. That's when Shaan and I took to the mic. The track is modern, and soulful.

Is the process of composing for several renowned singers more demanding?
It is. I had to not only adopt the situation of the song, but also pay attention to the artistes who would be singing it. I had to think of their range. I don't rope in a singer whose range doesn't match the requirement of the song. That will just sound wrong. So, apart from planning the composition in detail, I also conducted ample rehearsals to see which part suited which singers. For instance, Kanika [Kapoor] found it hard to sing the high notes of the hook line. So, I gave her the lines with low range. That was also the case with Amruta [Fadnavis] who could render the low keys well. Then we have singers like Pratibha [Baghel] and Priyani Vani, who could sing high notes beautifully. I didn't want anyone to approach this song in a hindered manner. It's inspirational, after all, so had to be rendered powerfully. Hence choosing the right singers for the parts was essential.

Did you have any references in mind while penning it?
I had Malala Yousafzai on my mind. Hers is a touching and shocking story. People there [Pakistan] are not as educated [as in other places], and believe in a religion that says women are not allowed to show their face or hands.Music is not allowed and studies are not permitted. [The mindset] is backward. And that will change only when women will be educated.

What do you think are the most promising aspects of the music industry today?
There is immense talent. As reality show judges, when we are exposed to young singers, we see amazing artistes from Pune, Indore, and other cities. Also, now everyone has something to do because the modes of entertainment have increased. They are not stuck, since there is TV, web shows and ads [to work for]. So, all the singers have work. My sister, Sulakshana Pandit, struggled all her life. Now, with more avenues everyone has enough work. Also, people are celebrating new voices.

Is there a drawback?
I find that when they perform in reality shows, and experienced composers like us are told to praise them, we go all out, often telling them they sang a particular song better than the original. The impressionable mind of the singer is affected. They believe they don't need to learn anymore. Music is something you should learn all your life. That's missing. They come in without improving their range, like we initially spoke about.Also, times have changed. Everything is led by technology today. The contribution of live musicians added a lot of soul to songs that were recorded earlier. Even if there was a mistake or two in a song, people would still consider it ready. We are deviating from that. Everything is so tight today that there's no scope for error. Before, an artiste's music would also be his/her reaction to the song that was being played. Now, no one hears the song. There are no nuances or expressions. I took 40 days to make Munni Badnam; that's unheard of for me. But, it earned its place.

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