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Art is not a luxury, but a necessity.



Jyothi Venkatesh

Today morning, music director Wajid Khan, the younger brother of Sajid Khan (of the Sajid-Wajid music director duo) passed away due to kidney problem and corona virus. We at and Mayapuri pray that his soul rests in peace and pay a tribute to the maestro who was just 42, by reproducing an interview of WAJID KHAN taken by JYOTHI VENKATESH ten years ago for the now defunct Film Street Journal.

“Sajid Khan is my elder brother. I had actually come to be a music director, though I like singing too. Though my priority was singing, I couldn’t get opportunities to sing because earlier music directors never used to sing, except perhaps S.D. Burman and Rahul Burman. I sing professionally. Sajidbhai does not. Though I like to sing ghazals, I actually prefer, given a choice, to sing my own compositions as a singer.

“Our dad used to tell us always that if we want to crack music as composers, we should know how to sing. He was right, because if you cannot sing a song properly, how can you expect your singer to sing it well? Not many are aware of the fact that both Sajidbhai and I belong to a musical gharana, known as Kirana Gharana, from generation to generation. Our father Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan is a renowned table player. In fact, we got our rhythm from our dad in our blood. Our Nana Padmashri Ustad Faiyaz Ahmed Khan had bagged the Padmashri while his brother Niaz Ahmed Khan was conferred with the Tansen award.

“Singers like Shaan and Sonu Nigam have complimented me after listening to my songs. I have sung duets with Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal in films like Wanted (Tujhe Pyar Karte Hai ) Main Aur Mrs Khanna (  Pyar Ka Vaada Hum Kabhi Tod De).  I also have to my credit hit numbers as a singer, like Jalwa, the theme line in Do You Want a Partner, Yahan Bhi Hoga and Love Me Love Me, Bang Bang Zamana Bole and last but not the least Dil Bina Tere Bina (Kal Kisine Dekha)

“Whether it was Nadeem and Shrawan or Jatin and Lalit or Anand Milind, none of the music director duo used to sing earlier. In fact, Anu Malik was never known as a singer and was known to sing just occasionally. I am not a Himesh Reshammiya. If I wanted, I could have even sung the hit number Tere Mast Mast Do Nain in Dabbang but I felt as a music director that Rahat Fateh Ali Khansaab was better. I have always believed in asking the right singer to sing the right song or else the public also will get bored. A music director should know which singer to use when. I asked Sukhwinder Singh to sing Hud Hud Dabbang and Sonu Nigam to sing Sachi Sachi, though I sang the number Humka Peeni Peeni Hai myself in Dabbang.It is always the projection which decides which song is a hit. We feel that if you have Salmanbhai and Malaika in an item number, baat alag hi ho jaathi hain.

“We made our debut in 1996 with Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya after coming up with a basic album called Deewana even before that, with Sonu Nigam as the singer.  Even after thirteen years, it is still a rock steady album as far as the music charts are concerned. God has been very kind to both of us. We have till date never even once done a cut and paste job as a music director duo. The biggest proof is that our names do not figure in the list of the names of the music directors which lists copied songs.

“We would not claim the credit for the hit number Munni Badnaam Huyi, because Arbazbhai had liked the song even before we came on board in Dabbang as music directors. Lalit Pandit has got the credit. Why should we take the credit, when it is not ours? It is not that we have not churned out super hit songs earlier. The song has worked for the film. That is important for us, since we are also part of the film. It is immaterial whether we have composed the number or Lalit! Munni Badnaam Huyi was just a part ofDabbang, whereas Sheela died even before it became a hit and Tees Maar Khan was only Sheela Ki Jawani whereas Dabbangwas Dabbang. Since Munni Badnaam Huyi was a desi item, it appealed more to the masses unlike Sheela Ki Jawani which as an upbeat song, which also was good.

“We would not deny that it is only because of Salman Khan that we got an opportunity to work on different projects and prove our prowess as a music director duo. How can we forget the fact that it was Salman Khan who believed in our music when no one else had trust in our capability? Your thinking itself becomes big when you work with an actor like Salman Khan, because he is a huge super star. When you compose a song like Mera Hi Jalwa, you just cannot think of any other hero today in Bollywood gyrating to that number of the big screen with effortless ease. Can you?

“There was a time in the past when there were musical trios like Naseer Hussain-Panchamda and Shammi Kapoor. Nowadays, you can single out just one musical Jodi- Salman Khan and Sajibhai and I, since in a row five films for which we have composed for Salman Khan – Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Veer, Wanted, Dabbang and Partner have become big hits. You just cannot force any producer or director to work with you. We did not compose music for Salman Khan’s films like Yuvraj and London Dreams, because Subhash Ghai and Vipul Shah did not want to work with us and were committed to other music directors. The music in both the films flopped.

“Though Salman Khan is one actor with whom we would love to work again and again, it does not mean that we do not want to work with any other star. We would love to work with every star in Bollywood. You can work with any one, if you are good as a technician and know your job well. We are working with Ajay Devgn in the film Tezz directed by Priyadarshan. If Shah Rukh Khan prefers to work with Shankar Ehsan Loy or Salim Suleman or for that matter Vishal Shekhar, it is his prerogative. Just because we are working with Salman Khan continuously, we will not be unprofessional enough to say we will not work with Shah Rukh Khan, as music directors. Not just Shah Rukh Khan, we would also love to work with Aamir Khan too, because we like the kind of sensibility that he has.

“There is much more to Sajid -Wajid as music directors. Dabbang and Veer belonged to two different genres. Veer was an epic story of a warrior which required a different kind of sound whereas Dabbang had the back ground of U.P and needed classical music and hence we composed rhythm oriented folk songs.

“We are strictly against copying any hit song, though there are many other music directors who have no qualms to palm off a hit song from other languages. Both Boney Kapoor and Prabhudevaa wanted us to lift the hit Telugu song Dola Dola from the Telugu original version of Wanted but they agreed when we refused and instead composed the number Love Me Love Me

“Can you make a Salman Khan sing an aalaap- pradhan number like Saanj Savere on the screen in today’s times? If it does well, it will work any time! Salman has been working for the last 22 years and has his own way of choosing things. I’d say that his taste his fantastic and brilliant. Salman is very musical. He sang the number Mitti Ki Seene Se in Wanted. Why should we expect a star to sing any song when he can sing a tougher song? How many singers have clicked till date as a hero in Bollywood except for Kishore Kumar? Yahan public sirf chamatkar ko namaskar karte hain!

“If you are good as far as your job is concerned, no one can put you down. If I feel that I should act, just because my songs as a music director or singer are hits, I’d be just a fool. Star ban-na ooparwle ki den hain. A star is only born. He cannot be made. We feel that we are stars in our own way since God has been very kind to us. Aaj Kal gaayki bhi aisi nahin hain like in the past. You do not get to hear Udit Narayan who peaked at 1990 and stopped in 2005 or for that matter Kumar Sanu. Sonu Nigam has survived the test of time because he keeps on changing his style as a singer. Hinmesh Reshammiya ruled for almost two years. It was not a joke at all. Then the flavor changed, because he did too much and it was unfair and what I’d call zyaadthi. Nowadays even Shaan is not singing on a regular basis because singers like Rahat Fateh Ali Khansaab, Atif and Mohit rule the rostrum now.

“After giving hit after hit for two years, we did not have work at all. For two years from 2001 to 2003, only two films clicked in a big way-Lagaan and Gadar. We were hurt when people told us that we should pack up but we believed in criticism and bucked up with a never- say- die spirit. I concede that though sometimes even shit sells, your main priority should always be your work. You struggle to reach a place but when you stop doing what you actually craved to do; your music will fail to appeal to the listeners. People will always like you, whether your film is a hit or a flop but if you give  bad music by not concentrating  on your work, not only will the film flop but also the public will write you off. After a two year gap, it was for Salmanbhai that we recorded Lagan Laagi for the film Tere Naam. It proved to be the turning point for us as music directors. Salmanbhai was shocked when we told him that we had not seen a recording studio for almost two years till we recorded that number.

“I would not deny that Anu Malik is talented but then sometimes destiny plays a very vital role in your life. When we baggedMujhse Shaadi Karogi, we gave three songs in just one sitting, when Anu could not record. It was Jalees Sherwani’s mukhda that fetched us the film, thanks to Salmanbhai’s recommendation. We cannot forget what Salmanbhai has done for us. It is a big thing that he respects us and loves us for our work and has given his films for us, when others did not trust us. We would say that he has also benefitted because we know our job well. We love Salmanbhai and are like his younger brothers and will love him whether he gives us work or not. Though Preetam and Devi Sri Prasad did Ready and Himesh Reshammiya did Bodyguard, we would do his Partner 2. In one way it is good, because you can concentrate more on two films than five films at a time.

“Today it is very difficult to get a hit song. Earlier everything was new and people were experimenting but listeners had no choice. Today people can listen to music of any country unlike then on the net. If in spite of this, you can give a hit, it speaks volumes. Also earlier there were very few music directors though today there are dime a dozen music directors in Bollywood. The basic difference in music then and now is that there were music directors earlier like Naushad, Madan Mohan, O.P. Nayyar, Sachin Deb Burman, Kalyanji Anandji, Ravi, Jaidev, Rahul Dev Burman,Shankar Jaikishan, Laxmikant Pyarelal,  C. Ramchandra and Roshan. The hero was there in the composer then. Today heroism is dead in songs. We have been able to succeed as music directors because we bring out the hero in our songs.

“Lyrics depend on the kind of films that you are making. At a time when the title of a film is mostly in English, we are happy that not a single song in Dabbang had a word in English. Dabbang had songs in either Urdu or Punjabi, because that was the requirement. We used Taakte Rehte Hai Tumhe Saanj Savere. Why do we generally forget that we make music for a film and not for a music album?

“We have also worked with Faiz Ahmed and Shabbeer Ahmed. We keep mukhdas ready and have a file of 400 songs. In had a Samsung recorder which I broke because I was fed up of going back to the sittings with the same melodies. I realized that to go back to the same melodies was pointless. If you are capable of erasing your own songs and create new ones, it is good. The excitement to make your product even better should not die in you if you want to keep on re-inventing yourself in your craft.

“Sajid and I do not interfere with each other as music directors. Basically I compose and he arranges. Sometimes he comes up with a hook line and I complete it .We believe that the life of a song is more than that of a film itself. Today TV has become very huge. Work is work, whether it is TV or films or for that matter jingles for ads. A reality show like Sa Re Ga Ma gave us a face, though people were aware of our names. We were not new names but thanks to the show which was a brand building exercise, we are known universally now and people can match our names with our faces when they hear our names.

We had composed forDus Ka Dum for which I had also sung earlier and Bigg Boss Season 4 . The only brief that Sajidbhai and I give ourselves is that when we set out to cater to Salman Khan, we should keep in mind that the song also should be huge and larger than life”.