Arko Pravo Mukherjee: We need an independent Music industry like the West

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If you are a music lover then definitely you must be having songs of JISM 2, ‘Tere Sang Yaara’ from RUSTOM, ‘Dariya’ from BAAR BAAR DEKHO, and the recent ‘Nazm Nazm’ from BAREILLY KI BARFI on your playlist. Meet the man behind these melodious and soulful songs Arko Pravo Mukherjee, who not only composes music but also writes lyrics and sometimes sings his own compositions as well.

Arko’s latest song ‘Nazm Nazm’ is making people fall in love with it and just a week back his first non-film single ‘Aainda’ featuring Riteish Deshmukh released. 

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In a candid interview music composer talks about how we need an independent music industry and also why he doesn’t want to try his hand in different styles as he has a particular style and wants to stick to it.

Here are the excerpts:

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You have an MBBS degree so what inspired you to make your career in music field?
I am from an Academic Bengali family with doctors, professors and Engineers only. Nobody is from show business, music or arts. Actually I always wanted to do music but it was not like I could give up my education for that. And I loved medicine as a subject aur mujh pe koi pressure nahi tha Doctor banne ka but padhai karne ka pressure tha (laughs). So I finished medicine in fact I topped my University (He is a gold medalist in MBBS) and finished by education till 2007. Later by the end of 2008 I came to Mumbai to pursue my dreams.

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So what was your family’s reaction when you came to Mumbai?
Bahot problem ho gayi ek do saal toh Mom ke through hi Dad se baat karni padi. Mom was slightly supportive. See every parent wants their kid to be happy but society keeps pressuring like ‘Arre tumhara beta Doctary chodke yeh kyun kar raha hai? So 2-3 years it was very difficult. Then I met Bhatt saab in 2011 and I got lucky as I got JISM 2.

Now that you have made your mark in Bollywood how’s your family’s reaction now?
Now they love it. When JISM 2 released they all loved its music. Tabhi mom dad ko pata chalo yeh ladka bakwaas nahi kar raha tha actually isko yeh kaam aata hai. Now my mom’s favorite song is ‘Tere Sang Yaara’ and ‘Dariya’, my dad still loves JISM 2’s songs and they are very enthusiastic whenever my film releases.

Your latest song ‘Nazm Nazm’ is very soothing and refreshing so tell us about the brief that was given to you while composing it.
Actually, before BAREILLY I haven’t done any UP-based film. If you see most of the films that I have done have urban flavour and ‘Nazm’ song’s mukhada I had written little already. I had met Nitesh Tiwari sir way before DANGAL and at that time he had liked my music so when he called me and told me about BAREILLY KI BARFI, showed me few rushes, then I thought that my song ‘Nazm’ will be perfect for this film. Then, I worked on the antara of this song according to the requirement of this film and composed it. Film me Ayushmann aur Kriti ke jo characters hai who letters ke through baat karte hai ek dusre se jo ek bahut khoobsurat cheez hai jo aaj kal dekhne ko milta nahi so I thought that was a very nice angle to bring in the song with their innocence and simplicity. I wrote ‘Mere dil ke lifaafe me tera khat hai Janiya.” As the meaning of Nazm is poetry I wrote ‘Tu Nazm Nazm sa mere hothoon pe thehar ja” as the way your favorite poem or sher is always on the tip of your tongue. There are only 5-6 emotions in this world but how do you present those emotions that’s what matters.

Apart from composing you also write your songs and sing them as well. So what do you enjoy most?
I have only sung in 4-5 films like in KAPOOR AND SONS (‘Saathi Rey’) then BAAR BAAR DEKHO (‘Dariya’), few others and then this ‘Nazm Nazm’ song. Mostly, I don’t sing myself as I am not a trained singer and especially in Indian style my training is bit weak. But whenever I find simplicity in a song and an instant connection only then I sing or else I don’t. We have so many good singers in our country and I don’t want to compete with them. I sing only when I feel I can express the emotions of the song in the right way.

"Recreating old classics is good for current generation"

What are the criteria under which you select your projects?
I prefer where I get total creative freedom as its very important and I have few friends who understand my music and since I have worked with them already so they know how I work. Aur mujhe har tarike ki music karne mein dilchaspi nahi hai. I have a particular style and I want to do that only. And my songs won’t suit in every film. Also as an individual you always want to work in a project where the director and the story in good. So all these things matters to me when I am taking up a new project.

Do you feel these days we have songs in our films just for the entertainment value and not for carrying forward the story?
Yeah sometimes this does happen when they use a song as a promotional strategy which is good sometimes. But if you look at all the good films in the last few years in all of them music plays an important part as they take the story forward. There are few films which don’t require any songs and they do good too so it’s not like films with good music does well. Sometime keeping up with the trend the makers do use club songs, love songs which help in increasing the interest of the people.

And what’s your take on every single film recreating old classic songs?
This is another trend followed currently by everyone. Even I had done ‘Aaj Phir Tumpe Pyaar Aaya Hai’ in HATE STORY 2. My friends Tanishk Bagchi, Amaal everyone does this and even I have done it as it’s like a challenge as well to remake an old song in a very refreshing way. It’s a good thing for the current generation as they get to hear a re-created version of an old classic song and that increases the recall value of the song. But it’s not always a good idea because all songs cannot be done; some songs can be done so one has to choose carefully.

Do you feel that the re-call value of songs is decreasing day-by-day?
I think people’s attention span is very small if you see and it’s not just about music it’s about everything. People are impatient and we want everything instantly as we don’t have time. Earlier people used to have time as our lives were not this fast paced and no matter what people would find time for their loved ones and family. But now these moments are very rare. And today we get time to listen to music either when you are traveling or in a club so you see people have very little time. But still there is beautiful music happening it’s just that it doesn’t register with people so well.

In one of your previous interviews you had said that you want to establish yourself as an Indie-artist. Please elaborate
Yeah I want to establish my music outside films also jaise pehle hota tha Indie-pop ke zamane mein. Ya abhi West mein jaise hota hai. Doing music for films is good but there should be more than that we should have a separate film industry as well as music industry and both of these can collaborate whenever they want to. We need an independent music industry and not a one which is dependent on film industry. Every musician should do something of their own apart from films. Only then we will have an equally strong music industry

What’s next in pipeline?
After BAREILLY KI BARFI my single ‘Aainda’ released. Post that I have a song in Rajkummar Rao’s SHAADI MEIN ZARUR AANA. Then I am doing a film with Nana Patekar saab called TADKA which is directed by Prakash Raj. Then I have a project with Akshay sir about which I cannot reveal anything right now.

Any message for all the aspiring music composers and singers out there?
I want to tell everybody that it’s very important in today’s world to find peace, love and kindness around you. I know during struggle it’s very difficult but if you have patience and perseverance and if you are honest and talented it will happen sooner or later just keep your heart filled with love and kindness.

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