Being the grandson of Ram Prasad Sharma, the son of Naresh Sharma and nephew of Pyarelal Sharma, it was quite natural for Mithoon to be inclined towards music. While he has been inspired by the work people in his family have done, his music is distinctively original, just like him. In this interview, he talks about being a part of MX Player’s Times Of Music, why recreating music is a damaging trend, association with Sayeed Quadri, collaborating with father Naresh Sharma and spirituality.
Years back, I remember reading an interview of yours in which you mentioned Viju Shah as one of your favourite composers. It must have been a special feeling to collaborate with him on the episode?
Absolutely! I volunteered to be a part of the show because of Viju bhai’s presence. I am not very comfortable with reality shows but when MX Player approached me with the concept I was immediately drawn to it. I found the show to be music-centric without any unnecessary drama. I have always been a big fan of Viju bhai’s music and when they told me I had an opportunity to collaborate with him, I immediately said a ‘yes’.
You recreated Viju Shah’s song ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’. Were you a little nervous thinking that you had to present the song in front of him?
There are few things in the world that help relieve ourselves from stress and music is one of those things. I do music so that I can be happy and spread happiness among people. I did not take any unnecessary stress as my intentions were pure. I wanted to celebrate Viju bhai and his song. The original will always be the best and there is no doubt about it. The good thing about this show we are paying a tribute to different composers’ songs. It is not a remix or rehash. My band and I performed the song and he was sitting there. It is always an advantage for an arranger to work on a good melody. I had a great tune and I just re-arranged it according to my best abilities.
You started your career with ‘Woh Lamhe’ and ‘Aadat’, songs that were originally composed by the Pakistani band Jal. You re-arranged the songs and gave them a different flavour. There has been an ‘Aye Mere Humsafar’ in between but you have largely focussed on creating original music. What are your thoughts on the trend of recreating songs that has picked up in a big way in the recent times?
When I recreated the two, it was clearly credited as somebody who re-arranged them and not composed them. I was not given credit as the music composer and rightfully so. That was a different environment as those melodies had not been heard in India. The original tracks had a distinctive pop sound to them and Mukesh Bhatt saab was clear about lending the songs a cinematic touch. We recreated with the intention of making those compositions reach out to large section of the listeners which had not heard them. After that, I made a conscious decision to create only original music. I was asked to recreate ‘Aye Mere Humsafar’ by somebody who was very close to me. I was reluctant to do so but the person felt I could do justice to it. I made an exception and after that, I decided never to do that again in my life. Recreation is a very unexciting and damaging trend for the future of Indian film music. India has a lot of talent and original songwriters. They deserve to get opportunities to make original songs. Creatively, it is an unexciting thing to do. We should focus on creating original music.
You have composed so many popular songs. Is there an album which you feel deserved more attention? I was revisiting the ‘Lamhaa’ soundtrack recently and I feel the music of that film should have reached out to more number of people.
Yes, I also feel ‘Lamhaa’ is an album which did not reach out to as many people as it should have. I had a great time working with the entire team including director Rahul Dholakia who has a great sense of music. I collaborated with Palash Sen and Chinmayi Sripada for the first time. I think it was also one of the first films which Mohd. Irfan sung for. Good music has its place in history and I believe with time, more number of people will discover it.
Is it more fulfilling to compose for a complete or majority of the album such as a ‘Shivaay’, ‘Traffic’ and ‘The Train’ instead of contributing one or two songs in an album?
Personally, I do not see much of a difference. I appreciate transparency. With Mohit Suri, I always do shared soundtracks. Mohit comes to me with a particular situation as he feels that is my domain. Nobody else works on creating a song for that situation. There is a certain amount of respect and exclusivity attached to it. I have a problem when people get multiple composers to work on a particular situation and then, they choose one out of the many tracks composed. That just shows that they do not have enough faith in the composer.
From Hasan Kamal (‘Javeda Zindagi’ – ‘Anwar’) to Shellee (‘Khalbali – ‘3G’), you have worked with a wide range of lyricists but your collaboration with Sayeed Quadri has been quite special.
Sayeed Quadri saab has played the role of a mentor in my life. He has helped me understand poetry. If you look at the history, understanding poetry has been crucial to the growth of a composer. Shankar – Jaikishan and Hasrat Jaipuri, Laxmikant – Pyarelal and Anand Bakshi, R.D Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri, R.D Burman and Gulzar, Nadeem – Shravan and Sameer, these are some of the legendary composer-lyricist jodis. Growing up in Mumbai, I did not have a lot of access to North Indian poetry. Sayeed Quadri saab came as a blessing to my life and he introduced me to the world of poetry. He will always be a pillar of force in my life.
You have also written some of your songs yourself. When do you decide to write lyrics for a song that you have composed?
When a thought comes naturally to me, I pen it down. We first worked on the melody of ‘Chal Ghar Chalein’ (‘Malang’). After that, both Mohit and I decided that we will get the song written by Quadri saab.To talk about the thought as big ass ‘Chal Ghar Chalein’. ‘Khidki pe tu khada dekhe haan rasta mera, aankhon ko mile har din mile yahi ek manzar tera….” – such profound lines can only be written by somebody who who has experienced a lot of emotions in his life. I could write a ‘Tum Hi Ho’ as it talks about the initial excitement of love and reaching the point of proclamation where nothing else matters in life except you.
You have lent your voice to a couple of your compositions and had also released a solo album in 2009 titled ‘Tu Hi Mere Rab Ki Tarha Hai’. You have not sung in a while. Can we expect to hear your voice in any of your upcoming songs?
There are no such plans at the moment. I am creating a lot of music. If my voice justifies any of my compositions, I will definitely sing again.
‘Shamshera’ is one of your upcoming projects. It is the first time you have composed for a film produced by Yash Raj Films. What can you tell us about it?
‘Shamshera’ is a special film as it is the first period drama I am scoring the music for. It is a historical film based in the 19th century. We had to create the music keeping the era in mind.
In 2007 you had composed the music for a Malaysian film called ‘Diva’. Would you like to score for an international project again?
Why not? As an artiste, I want to make music that resonates all across the globe. I would like to represent my country as a musician wherever I can.
Would you like to collaborate with father Naresh Sharma on a project in the near future?
This is the first time somebody has asked me this question. I had never really thought about it. Now that you have mentioned this, I will definitely think about it. I do share notes with him. Recently, I visited him and we discussed a few things. He played me something he had created and I shared my work with him. He has started his own music label and is mentoring a lot of young composers. We have a strong bond.
‘Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga’ (‘Half Girlfriend’) has been one of your most popular songs in the recent past. Manoj Muntashir had written a nazm way back in 2001 and those lines made their way into the song. Tell us about your experience of working on it.
The credit must go to Mohit Suri for bringing all of us together for ‘Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga’. I had never worked with Manoj (Muntashir) sir till then. Manoj sir had narrated this nazm to Mohit when they were working together on ‘Ek Villain’. Mohit requested him to keep those lines for him. A couple of years later, when Mohit was working on the music of ‘Half Girlfriend’, he called up Manoj sir. Manoj sir sent him the entire nazm on mail. It has 3 stanzas, each containing 8-9 lines. Mohit asked him if he would be comfortable working with Mithoon. Manoj ji was kind enough to say a yes. Manoj sir said he will convert it into a geet format. I told him there must be a reason why you wrote it like a nazm. Apparently ,many producers and directors had stated that it was too long or descriptive to be made into a film song. Every line in the song is exactly the way he had originally written it.
You are a very spiritual person. Has it played an important role in shaping you up as a musician?
It is difficult to comment on this. I feel spirituality is all about acceptance. You should accept people for who they are. Ten years back, I do not know what I thought was the true meaning of spirituality but today, I think acceptance is the real essence of spirituality. You have to be honest with yourself. I work on my own terms and still people love me (laughs). I have so many things to be grateful about. As long as I am in that space, spirituality will reflect in everything I do. The thehraav that you hear in my music comes from the fact that I am a very content person.