I've put my heart and soul in 'Saawariya': Monty Sharma

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By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, (IANS) Monty Sharma, nephew of well known music composer Pyarelal, says he ate, slept and breathed the music of "Saawariya" for three years for "perfectionist" director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

The talented musician, who has given the background score in Bhansali's "Devdas" and "Black", has moved to the foreground with "Saawariya".

"I've put my heart and soul in "Saawariya". But after all the toil I still feel there's so much more I could have done," Monty told IANS.

The composer, who is inspired by the music of yesteryears' Laxmikant-Pyarelal duo, feels that working with Bhansali has been a rewarding experience."The whole process of creating songs for Mr. Bhansali was very difficult but ultimately very satisfying. For three years I ate, slept and breathed the music of 'Saawariya'. The day Mr. Bhansali finished making 'Black' he said he wanted to hear me play my songs. For the next eight months we just had music sittings," he said.

After "Saawariya", Monty is flooded with offers but says he is being selective.

"Today I get lots of offers. But I prefer waiting for 'Saawariya' to release. I even get offers from TV serials. I don't care about the size or nature of the medium. I want to do good, honest work."

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Tell me about your journey from the background in "Black" to the foreground in "Saawariya".

A: It's been a very fulfilling journey. The whole process of creating songs for Mr. Bhansali was very difficult but ultimately very satisfying. For three years I ate, slept and breathed the music of "Saawariya". The day Mr. Bhansali finished making "Black" he said he wanted to hear me play my songs. For the next eight months we just had music sittings.

Q: Has "Saawariya" made you a better artiste?

A: The whole process of creating music for a perfectionist like Sanjay Leela Bhansali has taken its toll on my health. We would work 14 hours at a stretch. My hard work and the director's inputs have paid off. But now I'm restless. I want to continue with a different sound each time.

Q: You don't only recognise the ragas; you also know how to read and write music. Aren't you over-qualified for the film industry?

A: I don't think my knowledge of music makes me over-qualified. It's not about how much you know but how you apply that knowledge. My tunes are very simple. I don't burden my tunes with my knowledge.

Q: There's a discernible element of Laxmikant-Pyarelal in your songs.

A: Of course. I grew up on the music of Laxmikant-Pyarelal. They were two bodies and one soul. They grew up together and worked together. That kind of bonding is not possible any more. I started by working with Laxmikant-Pyarelal. All my basic knowledge of music came from them. Then I worked with Anu Malik, Nadeem-Shravan... I used to play the keyboards for them. Today I get lots of offers. But I prefer waiting for "Saawariya" to release. I even get offers from TV serials. I don't care about the size or nature of the medium. I want to do good, honest work.

Q: Which is more difficult, the background score or the songs?

A: In "Saawariya" it took me longer to do the songs. But even the background in "Saawariya" was a killer. After the background score in "Black" it was very important to me that I came up with an equally forceful background for "Saawariya".

Q: What next for you?

A: I am doing an international album. I also have an offer to arrange a symphony in South Africa. There are lots of big banners coming forward. But I don't want to go by banners. I want to create music where it has a proper place. And I don't want to reduce myself to making item songs.

Q: Any unfinished desires about the music in "Saawariya"?

A: I've put my heart and soul in "Saawariya". But after all the toil I still feel there's so much more I could have done. Sanjay Bhansali gave me so much freedom to create a sound that was unique and very traditional. He was open to my ideas all through.