Those who’ve read my earlier post would know that I was all excited to interview Rohit Sharma.To do this interview, we needed to borrow a camera from one of our friends. (More than anything else, struggling filmi keedas have to be smart jugadoo folks). This is how most of our conversations went:
Me: Yaar tera camera chahiye, Rohit sir ka interview karna hai…
Friend: Kaun Rohit sir?
Me: Rohit sir yaar… Rohit Sharma, the music director of Ship of Theseus
Friend: Ship of kya?
Me: Bhench… yaar woh Kiran Rao produce kar rahi hai na UTV ke saath… Ship of Theseus
Friend: Tu producer kab se ban gaya bhench…?
Anyway, after a few more such awkward phone calls, we arranged two Canon 5D cameras. Along with Rani and Aanchal, my partners in crime, I set off to meet this guy who everybody called ‘Rohit sir’; whose sudden ‘claim to fame’ (sarcasm) is that he is credited as the music director of Anand Gandhi’s now critically acclaimed film, Ship of Theseus. This was my first elaborate meeting with him, after having exchanged a few socially polite conversations with him at some common friends’ homes.
Being the painfully shy guy that he is, the only thing I knew about him is that everybody called him ‘Rohit sir’ despite the fact that he looked like one of us; equally creative, enjoys his alcohol, smokes, is ‘mad about moviez’ and seems to be JOBLESS too! Or so I thought. Today I stand corrected. This man has a body of work that can put any self-respecting creative soul to shame or introspection. The only thing about Rohit sir is that out of the hundreds of songs that he has recorded (scratch or otherwise, all gems), only ‘Naham Janami’ from SOT will be heard in the theatres, later this week.
In a long freewheeling conversation, I got to know so much about Rohit sir, I am feeling ginormously humbled. 13 years, 7 films & just one song released to his credit yet, but still he smiles as if he has just smoked some good pot. In a journey that spans over a decade, he seems to have seen it all – meeting high profile filmmakers, facing rejections, unfinished films, finished films stuck for bizarre reasons, unpaid dues, shutting down his own studio, listening to mediocre ‘noise’ being peddled in the name of songs that are now topping charts and the entire spectrum that you could imagine.
Impossible to imagine, but if (God forbid ever) I was in that space, I would have taken to drugs and booze, burned down Himesh Reshammiya’s studio, hated the world and its cousins, denounced the society at large, turned into a hippie and eventually have died a painful-unnoticed death somewhere in the hills or the ghats of Benaras, perhaps. BUT this man is made of something else. If Rohit sir were to be made into a superhero, his supreme superpower would be that to just smile. He has this zen-like smile, gentle and pure. Perhaps it is his sweet little daughter, Swara aka Cheeku and his wonderful wife, Ragini who have made this possible, but still very hard to believe.
We have recorded the interview exclusively for http://www.madaboutmoviez.com which we have embedded below, but there are things that aren’t in the video that I am attempting to share without giving away stuff that he doesn’t want the world to know of. One of the first things he told me that he doesn’t want to sound like a victim or a martyr or any such sad things. He was, after all a happy man with a smile that could cure almost any fatal disease. ‘13 years, 7 films & just one song released to his credit yet’ sounded too dramatic to him.
He had come to Bombay from Delhi thinking that the music he had been hearing of late was far too pedestrian and he could do a better job of it. Trained under the tutelage of Pandit Harsh Wardhan – Hindustani Classical Flute and later at Delhi School of Music (affiliated to Trinity School of London, for Western Classical Piano), Rohit sir learned the nitty-gritty of music composing while on the job. Having met an assortment of Bollywood monkeys who couldn’t understand his style or music, he drifted towards newbie filmmakers who had the passion to make their kind of films, but not enough moolah to pay Rohit sir for his creative genius.
Today things are looking up for him, as some of the unreleased films just might get theatrical releases over the next few months or more. Amidst the madness of dealing with mainstream jokers, indie turks and advertising hacks, Rohit sir has found peace in his newfound band – Swaang. The band comprises of people with varied skills; some writers, directors, composers and a few theatre artists. Swaang has come to limelight recently for their compelling creation, ‘Maa ni meri’. They have been touring across the country and touching hearts everywhere they go with their ‘protest music’.
Aanchal being the crackpot that she is, mid-way into the interview couldn’t contain her excitement to tell Rohit sir about how much she loved ‘Maa ni meri’. He smiled his trademark smile. I added saying I cried listening to the song when I heard it for the umpteenth time during their ‘One Billion Rising’ concert at Bandra, he smiled again. It felt like there was some light radiating from him. This is something that one sees very rarely. Last time I felt this when I was at AR Rahman’s Rockstar concert held at Andheri, while he sang ‘Kun faaya kun’.
We took a smoke break where he told me that he liked the headline of my prelude to the interview – “Why do you call him Rohit sir, yaar?” He sounded highly amused, but having heard his creations, I wasn’t surprised at all. A talent like him deserves all the respect. I haven’t met any music director who can casually claim – What genre of music do you want to hear, I am sure I have at least one composition for you to sample. You name it, he has made it. Qawwali to gangsta rap to Jatin-Lalit kinda stuff to shabads & chants (in SOT)…
Three pillars of Rohit sir’s strength other than his immediate family have been writer-composer Ravinder Randhawa, lyricist Shailendra Singh Sodhi aka Shellee and actor Swara Bhaskar aka Bindiya from Raanjhanaa. While Ravinder has collaborated with him mostly for Swaang outings, Shellee has been a part of his mainstream ventures. Swara has chipped in with her own inputs and contributions for the band from time to time. There are some more friends like actors Pankaj Badra and Prabhat Raghunandan who help Rohit sir keep his smile wide and as radiant as always.
I am yet to hear all the songs composed by Rohit sir, and I am sure there will be many that I would like to save or secure for my debut feature, but what to do yaar, filmmakers like me are off-radar for Rohit sir as of now. He might not even like the synopsis of my film. He will hopefully be hobnobbing with the likes of Aamir Khan and the rest of celebs (they might join the queue later in the day). Hope he makes his millions… of fans, sooner than later and composes something for a film that I will hopefully write soon…
Watch the videos below, also watch Ship of Theseus this weekend, hope and pray that the talent of Rohit sir and more of his ilk get noticed in the times to come.
Here’s Part 1 of the interview
And here’s Part 2 of the interview
Lotsa love, Magik.