Shantanu Moitra talks about being part of Smule presents Times of Music

Updated: Jul 04, 2020, 16:16 IST | Partnered Content | Mumbai

Recreating memories with 22 iconic songs - the show's innovative format will see each episode feature 2 composers of different eras soak in the philosophy

Shantanu Moitra
Shantanu Moitra

Smule presents – Times of Music powered by Ace2Three is an MX Original Series that brings together 20 legendary composers who will rewrite history and reinvent each other's most celebrated tunes. Recreating memories with 22 iconic songs – the show's innovative format will see each episode feature 2 composers of different eras soak in the philosophy behind the other's celebrated song, its ethos and interpret it in his own way to create a fabulous new rendition.

Part storytelling, part tribute and topped with pure musical genius – this one-of-its-kind music reality/chat show is hosted by Vishal Dadlani who will be unwrapping interesting stories from their lives. Episode 8 of Times of Music will see Amaal Mallik rearrange Shantanu Moitra's Give Me Some Sunshine from the film 3 Idiots and Shantanu Moitra will be seen recreating Amaal Mallik's Sooraj Dooba Hain.

We caught up with composer Shantanu Moitra and got him to share his experience on being a part of this iconic show. Excerpts from the interview:

What do you think of the format of the Times of Music?

It was so different that I first refused it, because I don't like to be in front of the camera. But basically, the fact that I was collaborating with another guy who is also uncomfortable being in front of the camera, that gave me confidence. So Amaal is also happiest in a studio. That is genuinely the DNA… if you see the history of composers, they are happiest to be incognito. Let their works speak, let their songs speak. Abhi ho gaya thankfully, and due to social media, we get to know. Else, nobody back then knew what Madan Mohan looked like, or how Jaidev looked like no one knew. So that I think that is why this shoot that was for the composers, who are not used to being under the spotlight and are not comfortable. Nobody has ever attempted something like this before. I remember when the shooting was on, I used to push Akriti who was singing my song to go ahead and face the camera and the director of the show kept telling me, no, it is your show. This is so new and what an amazing idea to have, two composers collaborate on each other's songs and yet retain your own sensibilities and you can to do what you wanted. So all in all it was a brilliant experience. And there is so much you get to learn from another person. He is pretty much half my age but he is creating music that people love and you want to know how his brain works; how different is he or how similar is he. So many things one gets to learn from somebody else and that's why this show was a great experience for me.

Did you enjoy shooting the episode? Did you have fun?

Totally enjoyed it. If the guy in front of you is a pro in front of the camera, it would have been different but if the guy in front of you is also as nervous facing the camera as you, then it is ok. It is the 3 Idiots concept… Agar dost fail ho jata hai toh bura lagta hai, agar who first ata hai toh aur bhi bura lagta hai. What I enjoyed the most was the fact that I had a lot of folk musicians coming in from different parts of India - Assam, Bengal and I could do that for such a contemporary song like Suraj Dooba Hai Yaaron. That for me was a great high that I could do it on the stage.

Was it a very difficult experience composing another music composer's song something that has already been popular or was it easy?

It was very difficult. It's like cooking na? If you are making your own dish, you have already established tadka kitna jyada ya kum hona chahiye, salt kum ya jyada hai. It has to be correct. But this is not from my perspective. It's a thing that people already love, and you don't want to take away that ki Shantanu ne isko bidghad diya. Yet you don't want to lose your identity. It has to be fresh. So yes, I struggled a lot.

You are paired with Amaal Malik on this show, how was your experience working with him?
Amaal is such sweet kid and when 'Give Me Some Sunshine' released, he was pretty much in college. So, you can understand the difference in age and direction, but somewhere Composers are similar I am sure, they are happy in their own world. So, I guess that was the common ground between us. At an age where is such a big icon amongst the youth. At that age I was working in Citibank. So, you have to understand how late my career started. I was a banker and he is already a star! It is fascinating to know how dissimilar a world we come from, so at the end of it, when we sit down to make music, he will probably make lesser mistakes than me because I had nobody to guide me. I was figuring out things on my own, but he has the legacy of the Malik family and also the fact that he is so focused. I admire kids who are so focused. I still am not focused. Half the time I am thinking should I do music, or should I go to the mountains. So I really admire these millennial kids who are completely focused as they know what they want to do.

You chose to work on Suraj Dooba Hai… any particular reason?

As I told you I love the melody and I just thought I could do things to this in my own way. It is a melody that if I take away everything else, the visuals, movie, etc., it can be sung easily… it is a very on the lip kind of a song and that is why I chose it

Give me some Sushine is such a beautiful composition. What do you think of Amaal's version of it?

Oh he did some crazy things to it. He has great sensibilities. I was a little tense before it, like I am sure he was, ki boss kya hone wala hai, because the truth is that even you aware of how your song is going to turn out. That is the joy of creation. It is not like I had great clarity while making the song. Kuch karte karte karte yaha tak pahuncha hoon. So, 'Give me some sunshine, give me some rain, give me another chance, I want to grow up once again', were actually dummy lyrics written by me, hoping that Swanand will write Hindi on top of it. But Raju and Vidhu Vinod Chopra both said, "This is sounding perfect, iss mein kuch karne ki jaroorat nahi hai". So my point is… it is always a discovery, koi clarity nahi rehta hai. Similarly I was thinking, kya hone wala hai iss gaane ka, mein khud clear nahi hoon. But like I was saying, these guys are so clear in their head. Amazing arrangement. Amazing thing he did. To be honest it's such a high to see another composer recreating your work, which I didn't think was possible before this show. Because kabhi woh jaroorat hi nahi padi. Why would somebody recreate your work? But it has happened and it is such an amazing feeling that another creator gives it a go. It is like when you are playing cards and your partner and you are in sync, then you can create magic. Just a look, a touch, and you just know that. That's how it was for me hearing my song.

Memories of the show you would like to share with us

Biggest memory was that his musicians and my musicians were having a party. My folk musicians, for them it is such a high to meet Amaal, They are superstars in the places they come form, and to get to meet them… There was great interaction between the musicians and that was great. Of course, Vishal and I go back from advertising days, when he was not doing movies and neither was I. It is such an amazing feeling to be a part of the setup that celebrates, you, your work and what you represent and that is rare because usually you are called on stage for something that is meant for somebody else and here there was nothing to dilute it, no actors, no actresses; so I cherish every moment of that.

Catch his episode on MX Player now – https://bit.ly/TimesOfMusic_Ep8_YT

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