Yashji has always been like a younger brother to me and I have a great relationship with the entire family.
Indeed after Dil To Pagal Hai, it was a while that Yashji took to make a film and I always asked him why? He kept saying that he was waiting for the right script.
On two occasions, just instinctively I told him that when you make a film next, do listen to some of the unused compositions left behind by Madan Mohan... I was thus very thrilled when he told me that he was making Veer-Zaara with Madan Mohan's tunes.
Madan Mohan, who was my Madan bhaiya, is one of the most respected names in Indian music and the songs I sang for him are loved even today. Who can forget immortal songs like "Lag jaa gale se", "Aapki nazron ne samjha", "Yun hasraton ke daag", "Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim", "Woh chup rahe to", "Mera saaya saath hoga", "Hum pyaar mein jalnewalon ko", "Zara si aahat hoti hai", "Baiyan na dharo"... and so many others? It is true that he died an untimely death with so much music still in him. So many of his tunes that remained unused, I had heard from him and I was very happy that his son had preserved these well.
I was indeed the happiest when I was told that Sanjeev would himself supervise the music. He has grown up in front of me, then produced so many of my albums like "Sajda", "Shradhanjali". But now he would be playing the role of a music director and making me sing Madan bhaiya's tunes. It was a very unusual situation and very emotional journey for me.
When the work actually began, I was keeping unwell and thus could not be part of the recording of the music tracks. When it was time for dubbing and I did a rehearsal, I would be so emotionally moved and drained that it would be difficult to sing. 25 years of memories of Madan bhaiya and the work we did together would overcome me.
This was indeed the most difficult project for me. I knew Madan bhaiya's style only too well and how he would have wanted me to render the composition. But now I had to sing as per the requirements of the track recorded, the film situation, Yashji's concept of the emotions and Sanjeev's own perception of what would work best. We worked as a team and despite my ill health I found the strength to complete the work. It was indeed a very daunting task and more so at my age.
Of course among the unused tunes, there are some outstanding classical compositions, ghazals, but these did not fit into the requirements of the film.
Yashji has used the music in the film so well. Indeed he has made a memorable film. I am very happy that he won all awards for Best Film and Best Director.
I do regret however that it did not win more awards for its Music. I recall that in Madan bhaiya's lifetime on two occasions the Filmfare Award was surely to be his. But when he didn't get it and I expressed my regret, all he said was "if you are feeling bad for me, that is my biggest award".
But I am sure that music lovers lauded this experimental effort and that Veer-Zaara's music will be heard for a long time. I congratulate Yashji on the bold move he took with the music of Veer-Zaara and I am even more happy that I was a part of it all.
One of the biggest challenges in making Veer-Zaara was the creation of its music. I have always been different in my choice of composers, from Khayyam saab in "Kabhi Kabhie", Shiv-Hari in "Silsila" and films thereafter, Uttam Singh in "Dil To Pagal Hai". One of the reasons is that, I spend a lot of effort on my music and need a team that will give me all the time, without too many other commitments. Most of all, melody has to be the hallmark of my film soundtracks.
I heard a lot of leading composers of today, and, though, all are so talented, I found something missing, something did not click. I needed music with old world charm, tunes that traversed a 22 year time span, across two distinct ambiences of India and Pakistan, but most of all a very soulful and yet Indian feel to it.
One day, Sanjeev Kohli, the CEO of Yash Raj Films, was traveling with me in my car and I was expressing to him my dilemma of not getting the right composer for my film. He then mentioned to me that he had various tapes of unutilized tunes left behind by his father, the late composer, Madan Mohan. Sanjeev had worked with me for many years but he had never mentioned this to me before. I thought this was a very intriguing idea and asked him to let Adi and me hear some of these. Of course, we were concerned that these could be outdated, as Madanji had passed away 30 years ago and some of these tunes were composed by him 50 years ago! So we asked him to record dummy versions of these tunes so we could get a feel of how they would sound today.
He worked for a month or two and played us 30 demos. He had no idea of the films subject, the theme, so he, instinctively selected 30 tunes for the demos. We immediately reacted to 8 of these tunes and Adi and I knew we were on the right track. Sanjeev did say he had even better tunes, and some he had still to hear... But we had selected our 8 songs from the first lot we heard. We adapted these tunes to fit in to our situations. Sad songs, the "Des" song, the haunting "Main Yahaan Hoon", the ballad "Kyon Hawa"... It was like Madanji had left behind these tunes to suit my every situation.
One day, we decided that we needed a Qawalli for a short duration, as part of the film. We had not heard any Qawalli in the demos. I decided to use a previously released Qawalli as part of the background. When Sanjeev heard of this, he requested me for a day to hear some more tapes of Madanji's unused tunes. And next day came up with 6 Qawalli options... Surely these tunes were left behind by Madanji for me!
It was destined that the man who composed the evergreen scores for "Heer Ranjha" and "Laila Majnu", was to come back, 30 years later to score for "Veer-Zaara"!
Then came the tough decision of who would arrange the music, who would supervise the entire project, who would do the background score.
We had so many people to choose from. The obvious choice was Uttam Singh, a top arranger and an admirer of Madanji. Every top composer would willingly have taken up this challenge. But instinctively Adi and I decided that the demos we had heard had a distinctive feel to them, a fresh approach and we took the most unusual decision of entrusting the entire score to Sanjeev to recreate and execute, as we felt he had these tunes in his genes. He had lived with them over the years and would recreate them with a dedication for his father, understanding his nuances better than any other established music composer or arranger.
Writing to a tune is a regular occurrence. The film's subject and the tunes needed the best lyricist. My earlier works were all by Sahir saab and Bakshi saab, but they were no more. I requested Javed saab to do the lyrics and we worked after a long gap. Since Silsila! Indeed, Javed saab gave me his best. "Tere Liye" is one of the finest written songs, ever!
Lataji has always been the lead singer in all my films from "Daag". She is the voice of India. I have never directed a film without her voice. Madanji and Lataji have created history in their songs together, and while she is like my elder sister, Sanjeev considers her as a mother.
It was thus very challenging for us to get her to sing Madanji's tunes. They had last together created the hit in "Laila Majnu" in 1975, and now 30 years later at 76 years of age, she would sing for her favorite composer again. Some of these tunes she had heard from him when he was alive.
I was adamant that nobody but Lataji would sing all the female songs, I knew we would be creating history if we achieved this. So despite her frail health we persevered and completed the songs... I remember the first day she came to the studio, she wept like a child and was choked with emotion! Only she could understand the historic moment!!
Even today, when I hear the piano strains of the intro of "Tere Liye", I am so moved! It will be a song that will endure with time.
The film remained untitled till the very end. This became a cause for speculation by all. Various titles were thought of. Including "Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum". We even did a song adapted to this, "Yeh Hum Aa Gaye Hain Kahaan", based on Madanji's tune [this song was finally dropped from the film as it was retarding the pace of the court room scenes. A very difficult decision as it was one of our favourite tunes!!
Every moment of the production process was exciting. The making of the music was a unique experience. To bring to life the 30 odd year's old tunes of a musical genius who was not amongst us was a daunting task. But our faith in Madan Mohan's son, our very own dear Sanjeev Kohli paid off and how. That was for me the best part of the making of the film. It even made up for all the location shootings I was unable to attend due to my mother's illness.
A perfect story, perfect script, perfect casting, more than perfect songs and music, and most exciting principal filming.
I was blessed to sing late Madan Mohanji's song with Lataji. We have been hearing and humming Late Madan Mohanji's music since our childhood and it was a dream come true for me when I was given the opportunity by Yashji to sing the songs composed by Late Madan Mohanji.
I consider myself to be fortunate to be part of Veer-Zaara.
It is impossible to actually explain what singing in Veer-Zaara meant to me. Not because I am short of words... but because even I don't know how to interpret my own feelings.
It is different when you revere someone for his work, and you get to meet them in person...You can express your adulation for him in various ways, gestures, actions, words of admiration, etc. But what does one do when the same person whose work has been heard by one's parents in their childhood, and regarded by not only them but the entire world, is working with you... POSTHUMOUSLY? How does one pay respects to him? How does one tell him what a great service he has done to the world through his craft?
How do I tell Mr. Madan Mohan that I am honoured to have worked under him but aggrieved not to have known the master composer personally? How do I tell him that I was thinking of and imagining Rafisaheb, Lataji singing under his direction years back... even before there was any sign of me appearing on this earth... rendering some of the masterpieces that would be remembered for ages to come? And that how much joy was I experiencing while putting my voice into the compositions created by that same blissful brain?
I wanted to ask the maestro himself "Sir, are you happy with the way I have tried to do justice to your composition, or do you perceive it some other way?" I missed touching his feet too when I was touching Mr. Yash Chopra's, after my job was over.
I could go on forever... so many questions, so many unfulfilled desires amongst a dream of a time I got to spend with Sanjeevji, Yashji... etc.
VEER-ZAARA... The name brings about fond memories of my association, though brief, it was an achievement of my life to have worked with a legend such as Madanji and to be a part of such an extraordinary venture, the appeal of which transcends beyond the borders. The experience was indeed memorable and I will cherish it for a very long time... every bit of it.
In this film Yash Ji has used the Music of Late Shri Madan Mohan Ji which like every time, is loved by the audience. We are thankful to Yash Ji who gave us a chance to sing a Qawaali ("Aaya Tere Dar Par") composed by Late Shri Madan Mohan Ji. Now, in all our live shows, the public always requests us to sing this Qawaali.
Veer-Zaara is the best thing that's happened in my life. I feel so proud and lucky to be associated with such a big landmark of Hindi cinema.
I remember around 3 years back Sanjeevji (Mr. Sanjeev Kohli) told me about creating a demo of his Dad (Madanji's) songs... "Madanji" - a name I have been hearing on the radio since childhood. I had never even dreamt that I would arrange this great maestro's tunes one day. Thanks a million Sanjeevji!!
I jumped to the offer and started working on the tunes which Sanjeevji had transferred on to a Cassette from various Spools of Madanji's.
I was very thrilled on hearing Madanji's voice. He had played some tunes on the Harmonium and some on the Piano. Sanjeevji had selected some 40 songs, which he said had to be presented to Yashji for his new venture. Out of the 40 songs presented, Yashji selected 11 beautiful melodies which suited his storyline.
Then started the task of arranging & recording the songs. Yashji & Aditya Chopra would tell us exactly how they would want the song to begin & about the feel of the interludes. Thus over a period of 1 ½ years we completed the recordings.
Generally, the directors would brief us arrangers about how the interludes would be shot but finally when we see the outcome we feel our music has not been justified. But in case of Yashji, it is not so. When I saw Veer-Zaara on the big screen, I felt that the music was enhanced further by the visuals.
Next began the background score. When Yashji & Adi showed us the movie for the first time I thought the movie was indeed great even without the background score. This was when I realized that it was now my turn to do justice to the visuals.
Last but not the least I would like to thank Sanjeevji, Yashji, & Adi for giving me the liberty to use a big orchestra & the best musicians in India for both the background score & the songs.
My journey through Veer-Zaara was truly a long and exciting one. Around November 2003, Mr. Sanjeev Kohli came to my Studio along with Madanji's tape of his unused compositions and I got down to recording the demos of more than 30 odd songs sung to dummy lyrics. It really was a rare feeling, hearing the late Madanji's voice after all these years, come to life again...
Once Yashji selected the songs and decided to start recording them, Sanjeevji asked me to quit my Studio job at Western Outdoor and join him as a creative consultant to the music score, as well as to assist him in all the technical aspects for the recording. I quickly jumped at the idea and got completely involved in the programming of the songs and rehearsals, which were done at the gadda room at Yashji's bungalow. The brief on the entire project by Sanjeevji was to keep Madanji's original style, flavour and essence in all the songs. We decided to record the songs in Studio One - Empire. Sanjeevji had already planned to mix all the Veer-Zaara songs in London and had asked me to start scouting for studios & engineers there, in advance.
I zeroed in on a London studio with Simon Changer as the mixing engineer. Simon commented on the fabulous compositions, the instrumentation, the singing, the arrangements, as well as the exceptional quality of the recording of all the songs. Over a cup of coffee with Simon, during one of our breaks, I casually asked him what do you think would be the female singer's (Lataji's) age, and he turned around and said she would be a girl of 24 years. I looked at Sanjeevji, and we both smiled at each other. Little did he know that he was talking about the 77 year old legend from India.
We also did the "Making of Veer-Zaara Music" for the Audio CD. Here the original voice of Madanji singing/humming the original tune was cleverly merged with the actual songs of Veer-Zaara. This was a remarkable feat to achieve, but truly worth every minute spent in putting it together.
The background score too was an exhilarating experience. One month of creativity, where we worked on themes for each character, most culled out of Madanji's compositions.
I was privileged to be the recording engineer for Veer-Zaara songs and background score.
I could not believe that through this project I would get to work with so many legends as Lataji and Yashji and record the unreleased tunes of the legendary composer, Madan Mohanji. The project itself was so novel and unique.
To recreate the old tunes, in a modern, yet very melodious way was a challenge. We were briefed by Sanjeevji that the sound must be very modern, but yet the feel must have memories of the olden days. A lot of effort went into creating this balance. We recorded all the strings and acoustic instruments in a very different way. Nobody uses these anymore!
The Qawalli was a very interesting experience as we had to do it live, since the singing style was different. After creating the vocal track, we then dubbed all the instruments. Which is exactly opposite of what is normally done nowadays.
It was very exciting working with some of the oldest veteran musicians, some of whom had worked with Madanji in his lifetime!
Of course recording Lataji was a great experience. As we heard so many anecdotes and memories of the good old days. And about all the immortal hits she had sung for Madanji.
The most challenging part was the "Making of the Music" CD.
Sanjeevji had a great idea of merging his father's original tune with the new track. We worked hard at making it happen. Matching scales, tempos... and making it feel at the end that Madanji was singing on the new track.
All the hours we spent in the Studio, sometimes 20 hours non-stop, were worthwhile, as people appreciated the work a lot.
My colleagues Pramod, Pranaam and myself will always remember this experience.
The extraordinary thing about this music, as everyone knows, was that we intended to use and recreate the tunes of the Late Madan Mohanji that he had not used in any of the films he had earlier composed music for.
To my utter privilege I was involved at every step of creating that eternal music, right from the scratch recording to the final mixing. I remember the music sittings, discussions, recordings, dubbing sessions with great fondness. The pride and exhilaration that I experienced, I am sure, can never be replicated!
The VEER-ZAARA Website and the Multimedia CD (Press Kit) were launched almost simultaneously - timed with the Music launch of the film. Yashji had shared the timeless songs of VEER-ZAARA with the core team in his office chamber, and I was one of the privileged few who heard this Eternal Music, a few days before the world heard it. And I can never forget that feeling for the rest of my life. I got fully engulfed into the timeless Music of VEER-ZAARA... from the first stroke of the piano piece of "Tere Liye" to the last musical note of "Jaane Kyon" in Lataji's silky soft voice. I was completely overwhelmed... the Music haunted me... it still does. All the 11 songs were "Gems"... to be treasured and cherished forever.
Reviving the magic of the legendary composer "Madan Mohanji" is the best thing to have happened to the Music lovers of today's generation. Sanjeevji's painstaking effort in bringing these melodies to life and recreate this Music is the "best gift" any son could have given his father. The "Making of the Music of VEER-ZAARA" is a milestone in the Indian Music history... something which will be remembered for ages. It almost felt that Madanji has come down and hugged each and every one of us, personally. Thank you Sanjeevji, from the bottom of my heart, for this precious hug.