When I met Music Composer A R Rahman
By Rakesh Anand Bakshi
What kind of relationship did the awesome music composer A R Rahman share with his lyricist #Anand Bakshi?
“Bakshi ji was already a legend when I arrived in Mumbai film industry. In the mid 1990’s. Our first work together was with director #SubhashGhai, for a film that eventually did not get made. (Shikar). Of course, I had heard of Bakshi ji much earlier, in South (India). Few Hindi films become big hits down South, and some of them had his lyrics. Like, #Sholay, #DDLJ and some others.
Bakshi ji was a very kind man. Because, even though I had perceived him as a legend, on meeting him and working with him I did not feel intimidated in his presence. (Thinks) He had a peaceful aura, a serene presence like kindness has, in spite of his achievements. (Pauses) Bakshi ji was always in his own zone, very quiet and reflective most of the time.
By ‘kind man’ I mean empathy. (Thinks) Bakshi ji had a certain approach to creative people which I think was empathetic. I was not new in the film industry when I met him, I was only new to the ‘Mumbai film industry’, and he took to someone ‘new’ like me with such ease and affection. It’s the ease that comes with kindness. You know, it was fun working with him.
Speaking of his talent, (Pauses) the most difficult thing in films is, creating something ‘simple’. By simple I do not mean simplistic.
Simple things are things that are very charming. Immediately charming to our senses. Because in a world of clutter and noise simple things pop-out, they create an impact immediately. Bakshi ji was a king of that simplicity, I felt. while working with him. He was very profound, yet simple were his lyrics. (Pauses) That, is actually an aspect of being a genius, I would say. Because, only a genius can keep all the human complexities within and yet pull out an expression that is so simple, so charming so easily.
An example of such genius in simplicity would be, our song from Taal (!999), ‘Kariye na, koi vada kissise kariye na.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99QKrl0feOU
(Thinks, begins to hum) Even the other song, ‘Nahin saamne yeh alag baat hai.’
‘Kariya na’ got adapted in #AndrewLloydWebber’s theatre production #BombayDreams,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombay_Dreams
for which I composed music. Andrew loved the ‘kariye na’ song and proposed we adapt it for his production. That song is my favorite too. (Smiles)
When I worked with Bakshi ji in Taal, Subhash ji asked me to give Bakshi ji a tune to write on. But I wanted Bakshi ji to write the lyrics freely, without a tune, and I will compose according to his lyrics. Because, I was new to Hindi film industry and I was trying to understand, discover actually, how to compose to Hindi and Urdu lyrics. So I wanted him to write the lyrics first and then I will compose to them and learn along the way. (Pauses)
You know, there was a kind of fierce fire burning between the three of us (Bakshi ji, Subhash ji & me), because all three of us were in a discovery mode during the music creation of Taal.
So Taal was an interesting experience for all of us, is what I really mean when I said it was ‘fun’ working on the songs of Taal with Bakshi ji. Because it’s fun to discover new things as you work. There were conflicts, of course, but it all resulted and ended in sheer beauty, I think. (Smiles)
Bakshi ji had a Harmonium and he could sing in tune. (Smiles) That was another reason it was fun working with him.
Fun also because, he was so quick at writing lyrics that if I did not as quickly as him come up with a tune, he would start singing his lyrics in his own tunes. (Laughs)
Because he had a good sense of music in him. And he had a good voice, so he would start singing his lyrics in his own tune! And what he sang would sound good too. (Laughs)
So I used to get a little ‘tension’ working with him (Laughs), that if I delay making the tune for his lyrics he may sing a better tune than I can make and then my director, Subhash ji will okay it! (Laughs) so then what am I doing there as the music composer? (Laughs)
However, Bakshi ji’s tunes were so beautiful, also because he sang well he could do justice to his lyrics. (Smiles) So ya, it was really fun working with him, and Subhash ji, having to be really fast composing the tunes really quickly in front of him and Subhash ji. (Laughs)
Music composers are expected to deliver hits. So it helps us if our lyrics writer has the ability to write a catchy and interesting mukhda. With Bakshi Saab that was never a problem. Everything he wrote was so simple and attractive. And phonetically interesting too, so, honestly, I did not have to work hard at it. That is one of the reasons I had mentioned to you during the background scoring of Taal’s music scoring that ‘I like working with Bakshi ji because he makes my work easier.’ (Pauses)
Even if you take the song “Choli ke peeche kya hai”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_l8kXaX9Uwfrom Khal Nayak (1993), composed by#LaxmikantPyarelal, even without knowing the meaning of the lyrics the sound of it is so musical and catchy! Same for the rhyme of the song ‘Taal se taal mila’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzX4_vcWp6I
I feel lucky to have worked with Bakshi Saab. And even with some others who are no longer with us today. (Pauses) We all miss Bakshi Saab. Especially, Subhash ji. He was very close to him.
I still remember the living room of Bakshi ji’s house where we composed songs together; it had an old world charm, a nostalgia, just like a beautiful ghazal. (Pauses) On visiting Bakshi ji I would always feel I am entering the personal space of a ‘legend’.
You mentioned Bakshi ji wrote much more than the usual three or four paragraphs that directors and producers had wanted from him. It comes from a kind of love, a sheer passion for your work that cannot be explained or expressed. These people are blessed that they can give so much of themselves to their work, to their listeners.
In all humility, I too feel fortunate that I have the blessings of Ajmer Sharif’s Khwaja Garibnawaz, and through my music I have opportunities to give back the love I am receiving from the almighty and my listeners.
Thank you very much for this Rakesh.” – A R Rahman Mumbai, July 2016