Home » Interviews » “I am glad my journey as a composer in films started with ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’ – Sandesh Shandilya

‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’ completes 20 years of its release today. The film featured a mammoth cast comprising of heavyweights like Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor Khan and was one of the highest grossers of the year 2001. Among other things, the film is remembered for its chartbusting soundtrack that was scored by Jatin-Lalit, Sandesh Shandilya and Aadesh Shrivastava.

While Jatin-Lalit and Shrivastava had been around for long, ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’ marked the beginning of Sandesh Shandilya’s journey as a music director in Hindi films. Prior to this, the composer had worked on popular private albums like ‘Pyar Ke Geet’ (Shubha Mudgal) and ‘Piya Basanti’ (Ustad Sultan Khan and Chithra).

You composed five tracks (‘Suraj Hua Maddham’, ‘You Are My Soniya’, ‘Deewana Hai Dekho’, ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Soul of K3G’) for ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’. Interestingly, you were not too keen on doing the film when it was first offered to you as you didn’t want to be a part of a multi-composer album.

When I was starting out as a composer, I wanted to handle the responsibility of an album all by myself. Having said that, I have been a big fan of Jatin – Lalit and it was an honour to share credits with them on the album. Along with RD Burman, Jatin – Lalit have been my favourite composers. I met them during the recording. They were very appreciative of my music. I am glad my journey as a composer in films started with ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’. A couple of months before Karan started shooting for the film, I had made him listen to ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’. He had really liked the song but since Jatin-Lalit had done the music of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, he wanted to work with them on this film as well. The shooting for the film had started already when, one day, he called me up and told me that he would like to use ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ in the film. After that, I worked on four other tracks for the film. If I have to dedicate the music of the film to someone, it would be Yash Johar saab. The film tuned out to be so beautiful because of his blessings.

‘Agnivarsha’ was the first film you had worked on but it turned out to be your second release after ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’.

Yes, that’s right but I will always consider it to be my first film. I will always be thankful to Karan Johar for giving me the opportunity to work on such a massive film despite being a newcomer then.

Despite not doing the entire album, you got the opportunity to showcase your versatility through the five tracks you composed for the film. Each song was different from the other.

The film was about three generations, so that helped in putting together a layered soundtrack for the film. Karan was perhaps not even thirty years old when he made the film. Even today, I feel amazed to see that he managed to make such a mature film at such a young age.

Unlike the other tracks that you composed for the film, ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ was already ready with you and not composed specifically for the film.

I had composed ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ in two parts. I was suffering from fever and Anil, who was my roommate then, had written some verses which he recited to me. I was getting bored resting on bed the entire day and decided to set those lines to tune. I composed the mukhda that day and finished the rest of the song the next day. While recording the song for the film, I got the support of a wonderful team.  Some of the best musicians in the industry worked with me on this song. Suresh Lalwani ji arranged the song and Merlin D’Souza played the piano pieces. The guitar pieces were performed by Ankur Mukherjee and Sivamani played the drums. The song was beautifully choreographed by Farah Khan.

‘You Are My Sonia’ was a completely different song.

Merlin D’Souza deserves the credit for arranging the song. K Sethuraman had mixed it very well I remember Karan had asked me to come to the set and see the shoot. It was a set put up in Goregaon but when I reached there, I felt I had walked into a pub in London. The chemistry between Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor Khan was electrifying and they performed the song on screen very well.

After ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’ you never worked with Karan Johar again. You were supposed to do Dharma Productions’ Kal Ho Naa Ho’ at one point of time.

Yes, I was supposed to do ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho but I couldn’t work on that film for some reason.

You have been working as a composer in the Hindi film industry for more than twenty years. Do you think you have got your due from the industry?

Music has been my biggest passion in life and I am thankful to the industry for giving me the opportunity to work here and do what I love doing the best. I got to work with some wonderful filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali, Ketan Mehta, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and I hope this journey continues for several years more.