A couple of years back, Akashdeep Sengupta arrived in Mumbai to become a singer. But destiny had other plans. Composer Pritam Chakraborty, whom he worked with as an assistant subsequently, advised the classically trained singer from Kolkata to try his hand at composing music. In the last couple of years, Akashdeep has delivered several hit songs like “Main Hoon Saath Tere” (‘Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana’), “Sajan Bade Senti” (‘Badhai Ho’), “Kala Joda” and “Sacchiyan” (‘Bhangra Paa Le’) but now he wishes to focus on propelling his career forward as a singer. In this interview, he talks about his association with JAM8, working with Pritam, his upcoming song from the Akshay Kumar – Katrina Kaif starrer ‘Sooryavanshi’ and more.
You were one of the first artistes to be signed by Pritam’s JAM8. What makes JAM8 different from other A&R companies?
JAM8 is an A&R company that is focussed on nurturing creativity. Whenever a filmmaker wants Pritam da to do the music for his film, he reaches out to him. Around 10-12 composers work under the brand of JAM8. In this case, a producer or a director approaches a company instead of just one individual.
You have been a part of different setups. You worked as a duo with Kaushik. Then, the two of you worked as a trio with Guddu and now, you are working as a solo composer.
Yes, Kaushik and I did two songs (“Gumnaam Hai Koi” and “Aafreen”) for ‘1920 London’. That was also the first project which JAM8 was associated with. Guddu, who is Kaushik’s brother, joined us later. Together, we worked on films like ‘Badhaai Ho’ and ‘Loveyatri’. Each of us had our own sensibilities when it comes to music and we decided to work independently after a point of time. It was great collaborating with Kaushik and Guddu and we might work together as independent artistes in the future.
Almost the entire album of ‘Bhangra Paa Le’ was done by JAM8. You had composed two songs in the film, ‘Kala Joda’ (in partnership with Kaushik and Guddu) and ‘Sachchiyaan’. It was a dance based film and music played an integral role in the narrative. How was the experience of working on the film?
It was a great experience working on the soundtrack of the film. It was Sneha Taurani’s very first film but she was very sure about the kind of sound she wanted for the film. She has a great sense of music and encouraged all of us to do our best. She was very supportive throughout the entire process of putting together the soundtrack. There were different composers from JAM8 working on different tracks and we helped each other on our respective songs.
How involved is Pritam with JAM8?
Pritam da has put a lot of effort in setting up a company that fosters creativity. He gives a lot of space to all the composers associated with JAM8. He understands and respects the fact that every composer has his own ideology and sensibility and must get the freedom to express himself in the purest form. He does oversee the final product and gives his inputs but never interferes.
In all these years that you have worked with Pritam, which is that one quality of his that has inspired you the most?
Pritam da is the most hardworking person I know. I have been working with him for five years. Even after achieving so much and being one of the top composers in the country, he still has the enthusiasm of someone who is just starting out in this profession and wants to do a lot of work.
You came to Mumbai to become a singer. How did the shift to being a composer happen?
Yes, I did come to Mumbai to become a singer. I have taken formal training in Hindustani classical music and I had planned on becoming a vocalist. When I came to Mumbai from Kolkata and met Pritam da, he told me that I have a good understanding of music and I should also try my hand at composing music. I really enjoyed working as a composer but right now, I am more focused on my career as a singer. These days, I am doing projects primarily as a singer. Last year, I sung ‘Aira Gaira’ from ‘Kalank’ along with Javed Ali, Antara Mitra and Tushar Joshi. Recently, I performed a song in nine different languages for a Covid-19 campaign. I have a YouTube channel on which I do cover versions of popular songs.
The music industry consists of both trained and untrained professionals. How important, do you think, is training for a singer or a musician?
Training helps a musician sustain over a long period of time. Arijit da has learnt music extensively and that is the reason he has turned out to be such a versatile singer. Being a trained singer or a musician definitely gives you an edge.
You, along with Kaushik and Guddu, have composed a song for ‘Sooryavanshi’. What can you tell us about it?
The song we have composed for ‘Sooryavanshi’ is very special. It is a romantic number which has been picturised on Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. I cannot share much about it at the moment but it is a song we worked very hard on and I am eagerly looking forward to the audience’s response to it. After the trailer came out, I was anxiously waiting for the song to release. The lockdown happened and the film got delayed. Though I am focussing more on doing singing based assignments at the moment, I have composed a lot of songs for JAM8 and whenever they get approved, I will be happy to put final touches to them.