Manan Bhardwaj gained instant recognition with his hit single ‘Teri Aankhon Mein’ which released last year. He followed it up with another popular non-film song titled ‘’. ‘Shiddat’, which recently premiered on Disney Plus Hotstar marked his debut as a film composer. Apart from composing the title track and its reprised version, he has recreated Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s iconic qawalli ‘Akhiyaan Udeek Diyan’ and the popular Punjabi folk number ‘Chitta’ for the film. With several big-ticket projects like ‘Radhe Shyam’ and ‘Hit’ in his kitty, Manan is one of the most promising young composers on the block.
In this interview, the composer talks about ‘Shiddat’, composing an unusual song for Prabhas’ ‘Radhe Shyam’, writing songs, musical training, association with T-Series and more.
After composing a bunch of popular non-film songs, you have made your debut as a film composer with ‘Shiddat’. The film also marks your debut as a lyricist. You have written all the songs you have composed and have also been credited as the lead vocalist on three of them.
Earlier, I was working on the music of the film only as a composer. The title track was the first song that we worked on. Kunal (Deshmukh) bhai and Bhushan (Kumar) sir liked the lyrics that I had wrote, so, we retained them. There was no intention to sing these songs as well. Bhushan sir thought my voice worked well for the songs, so we didn’t get them dubbed by another singer. Everything happened organically on this film.
Are you planning to write and sing songs in the future as well?
Yes, apart from being a composer, I would like to continue exploring myself as a singer and a lyricist. I am writing most of my songs for my upcoming films.
You started out with putting out cover versions of popular songs on your YouTube channel. Do you think it helped you gain the attention of people within the industry?
Yes, a lot of people from the industry took notice of me after watching those videos. I always say that you must not wait for opportunities to come to you and keep doing something all the time. To become a good gardener, you don’t need to have a garden in your house. You could go to a forest and learn the ropes of gardening there. You must always try to make the best use of resources that you have at your disposal. You should never say that I cannot do a particular thing as I don’t have a certain equipment or access to something that you need.
These days, a lot of times music companies pick songs from their music bank and put them in a film. Did the same happen with ‘Shiddat’?
No, all the music for the film was made for the film. Nothing was picked from a music bank. I was given a complete narration of the film and after that, I started working on the music.
The non-film song ‘Teri Aankhon Mein’ won you a lot of recognition. How was the process of creating the track?
I made ‘Teri Aankhon Mein’ during the first lockdown. I made the mukhda and shared it with Bhushan sir. He loved it and gave his inputs. After that, I finished the rest of the song. The song became hugely popular in very little time. I have done another single with Tulsi Kumar and Jubin Nautiyal for T-Series which should come out soon.
One of your upcoming films is the Prabhas – Pooja Hegde starrer ‘Radhe Shyam’. You have stated in an interview that the film has very unusual situations and you ended up creating 30 versions of the same track.
The count has reached more than 40 now! (laughs) I had made that song much before the film came to me. It was a very unusual song and I never thought that it could be used in a film. Luckily, there was a situation in the film that we thought the song could be placed in. We tweaked the song a bit according to the situation.
You are also doing the music for the Hindi remake of the Telugu film ‘Hit’ which stars Rajkummar Rao and Sanya Malhotra. The film is a thriller and the original had no songs in it. Is it a challenge to work on a project of this nature?
A process becomes enjoyable only when it poses a challenge. I love working on such projects. The film has a very unusual narrative and I had to make the songs keeping that in mind. I have created songs that will help in taking the narrative forward.
What is the kind of musical training you had?
I grew up in Gurugram in Haryana and have always been passionate about music. I have been taking training in Indian classical music ever since I was a child. I have learnt to play the piano as well. Apart from that, I have done a course in audio engineering.
Today, there are many musicians who are self-taught. Do you think formal training is very important for a musician?
A friend once told me that you must train but you should also know when to stop training. It is also important to switch teachers at the right time. Different people will teach you different things about music and that contributes to your growth as a musician. One should stop training after a point as you need to explore yourself as a musician and develop your own style too.
All your commercially released work has been with T-Series so far.
Yes, it has been a wonderful association. I consider Bhushan sir to be my godfather. I have never seen a more hardworking person in my life. He looks into each and every aspect of the song and his inputs always help in making a song better.