Nikhil Kamat is on the go. Though it is over 27 years since he had made his debut as a music director with Chandra Barot’s film Pyar Bhara Dil with his then partner Vinay Tiwari under the name of Nikhil-Vinay, today he is at the helm of affairs as Nikhil Kamat not only as a music director but also as a producer-director of music videos besides doing background music as well coming up with music albums with new talent. In this freewheeling interview at his modest sitting room in Malad, NIKHIL KAMAT who is still known for his chart busters in films like Bewafa Sanam, Hum Tumhare Hai Tumhare Sanam and Pyar Bhara Dil winds himself musically to JYOTHI VENKATESH exclusively for CINEBUSTER.
You seem to be doing select projects, after delivering melodious compositions?
Yes, and I am very happy at the moment because I am working on my own terms and conditions. Earlier I was composing in tandem with my partner Vinay but after my split professionally from him a few years ago, I decided to compose on my own as a solo music director. Every one works in his own time zone. You stop in-between, pitch yourself by reinventing yourself and then stage a comeback. I did exactly that. The producers who are working with me are very very happy with my work and my attitude towards their projects. My song ‘’Betiyaan ‘’ which was composed by me , for ‘‘Save The Girl Child Campaign ‘’ was watched by over 5 crore people on Whatsapp and garnered huge hits on Youtube. Mrs Sunanda Shetty had tears her eyes when she heard the melody and personally called all the film actors and actresses to be a part of this project. I must also thank director Rajeev Walia for his hard work.
What are your current projects as a music director?
I have a number of projects including Kapil Kausthub Sharma’s web series Love Life Screw Ups , part 1 and part2, with which Zeenat Aman has staged her grand comeback as an actress. The web series is entirely youth oriented and speaks the language of the youth. Jai Kumar Patel, a 21 year old ,and Rahul Pandey have sung some melodious youth oriented numbers for the web series. I have recorded songs and the background score for Aryeman Ramsays ‘’Yeh Kaisa Khiladi’’ and ‘’Varanasi’’.I have completed the Background score of ‘’Life of Kuku’’, Shivaji Lotan Patil’s ‘’Lafda Sadan’’ and Rajwada’’. I am doing albums with singer Reshmi Kumar from Australia and T Series. Venus Music just released a single with Singer Altaf Raja. I have composed the songs for the Marathi film Sarva Mangal Savadhan with Rahul Khan as the director. I am also doing a project with ace film editor Sanjay Sankla.
Do you think web series have a big following today?
Web series are doing extremely well especially after the Saif Ali Khan‘s Sacred Games and the Vivek Oberoi starrer Inside Edge clicked in a big way. Today the internet has become a big platform to reach the masses all over the globe. Even Indian web series like Baand Baaja Baraat and Kaustubh Sharma’s Love Life Screw Ups have unprecedented viewership. As a music director it is imperative that I move ahead with the changing times.
Do you feel that music today lacks soul like in the past?
Today music does not lack soul but there is a humungous change in the way we compose and produce music. The reason is the scripts today are not always designed keeping music in mind. Producers and Directors want very complicated melodies and most of them keep making others listen to the compositions and this creates confusion in choosing the songs for their films.There are also some producers who who do not fully trust their composers, and hence not only put pressure on their music directors but also do not give a free hand to their composers like in the past. Believe it or not, in the 60’s and 70’s, many a times composer S. D. Burman felt that he was not the right person to compose songs for a particular film, and would never hesitate to recommend any other composer if he felt that that composer would do a better job. Also great composers like Salil Chowdhury always worked on their own terms and conditions and thats why their melodies and style is still remembered.Till 2000, I had never heard of a song having bounced but nowadays every other day I hear composers and arrangers say my song bounced. Balls can bounce but how can songs bounce? The producer should co-ordinate with the music director and come up with a good song which will stand the test of the time and I also wish that there is more love between the music company and the music director. I maintain that it is nothing but God’s gift to create a song which is on every one’s lips especially today when many songs are forced. Music can only work when there are blessings from the entire unit to a particular project.
How would you describe yourself as a music director today?
As a music director today, I still educate myself constantly and consider myself a student of music. I am of the opinion that your ego should not come in the way of you and your music. I want to constantly change and continue to innovate as far as music is concerned.
Like Kangana Ranaut went abroad to learn filmmaking after earning a name for herself as a good actress with Queen, I also go to different Institutes of music to learn about new sounds and techniques. I work on logic and learn about the latest software. I have started not only Nikhil Kamat Music Institute on a low key to promote new talents but also Nikhil Kamat Film Productions and Nikhil Kamat Talent Management. I have also directed an ad film with Zarina Wahab for Play Station.
Do you listen to your colleagues’ music today?
I simply love to listen to my colleagues’ music. I love the work done by Pritam, Amaal Malik. I love to listen to songs sung by Arijit Singh, Mohit Chauhan, Palak Muchchal, Shreya Ghoshal,KK, Armaan Malik, Dev Negi and Amit Mishra. I listen to the songs as a listener and not as a composer. In the new lot os singers Anee Chatterjee, Puran Shiva, Jay kumar patel, Reshmi kumar, and Tori dattaroy hold great promise. Rahul Pandey also stands out as a good singer.
In what way did you change your style?
Today let’s face facts. Bollywood is working in a realistic level. I took the opportunity to change my style. Not because I felt I was becoming a little bit repetitive like some of my colleagues but because I felt that If I do not reinvent myself, I’d be only living in a fool’s paradise. My new compositions have different singing styles coupled with modern music arrangements. I also compose and arrange music on sophisticated computers, work on the latest music softwares like Apple Logic Pro.
Can you please elaborate?
Each composer has his own style today and you just cannot mould one in another’s style. I follow my own pattern and expect the producer to take the best from whatever I offer him. Melody is my style. But as a composer I am willing to go outside my comfort zone and try out various new styles of music and compositions. I have a bank of songs today which are different from the normal pattern of songs.
Is there any director on your wish list for whom you would love to compose?
I’d love to compose for Karan Johar, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Basu etc. Though Bhushan Kumar is not a music director, he has a keen ear for music and I would love to sing for him. I have already pitched in many songs for him.
You separated from Vinay Tiwari in 2006. What led to the split?
Vinay Tiwari was like my younger brother but we separated because he seemed to have different goals, and maybe he did not feel comfortable sharing credits or maybe he felt he would be comfortable working solo. I myself wanted some space and also wanted to work solo and today I am feeling great working alone. It was in 1989 that we met through Susheel Gajwani for whom we composed for the serial Jockey before we went to T Series and pitched in our songs and put up a proposal. Vinay was good in business, composing and singing. We have composed for as many as 60 films till date, and over 100 private albums. I thank Anuradha Paudwal who played an instrumental role in making our careers.
Do you like this phase of yours as a music director?
100 per cent I like this phase personally because I am relaxed mentally and also get 100% credit for my compositions. I am also enjoying my success whatever it is and take calls on my own, whether they are good bad or indifferent. Today I feel I have better Goodwill and people trust me with their projects and I am being repeated in each and every project. I give personal sittings to all my producers and clients and am available to them 24\ 7 . I deliver all my projects on time and give them great service.
What are the improvements you are making to stay alive as a composer in this competitive film industry.
I am working very very hard to create new compositions of today. I am also working on new technology. I have become more and more aggressive in my work approach and I am meeting many many people. I was not very social,but now have decided to meet people and push myself in Bollywood. I don’t follwany fixed style of composing songs so I can mould myself to new zones of music. I also go and meet many producers and keep on making scratches of new compositions to pitch for new films. I also always consider myself a student and create new melodies every day like any new student of music.
Your song “Betiyaan” composed for “The save the girl campaign” broke all records and went viral, was watched and downloaded by more than 5 crore people!
Betiyaan was a song I composed for the Suraj Johnson advertisement company. Kapil Sibal on hearing this song was very impressed and decided to be a part of it. Raveena Random and Shilpa Shetty also loved the song and decided to endorse my composition. My friend ace director Raajeev Walia , Ratnakar Kumar,Sunidhi Chauhan, Mrs Sunanda Shetty etc also played a crucial role in making betiyaan a success.
Your songs played a crucial role in the Samajwadi campaign which made Akhilesh Yadav the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh!
I met Akhileshji through T series and composed the Samajwadi anthem for him. Farhan Azmi and Akhileshji loved my composition of the Samajwadi anthem and assigned me the job to compose the election songs. I did 40 songs which played every day on the roads of UP and people of UP loved the songs.
Which projects are you working on?
I am working on the music of Editor Sanjay Sankla’s film which he is going to direct. I am also composing non film songs for singers Jay Kumar Patel, Reshmi Kumar, Tori Dattatoy etc. I am also working on Aditya Om’s next project. I am composing the songs and background score for the popular web series “Love Life and Screw Ups” Part 2 under my baton.