‘Jism 2 is a dream musical debut’ – Songwriter-Composer Arko Pravo in Conversation with Koimoi
In an exclusive chat, Subho catches up with the Bengali doctor who composed the music of Jism 2
It was perhaps destined that a doctor-turned-musician will score the music and write the songs of a film named after the human body – Jism 2. From medicine to music, from the city of joy to the city of dreams, Arko Pravo Mukherjee has come a long way… and how!
After passing out from Don Bosco School in Park Circus, Kolkata, in 2001, Arko went on to study medicine at the Burdwan Medical College – about 100 km north of Kolkata. Arko received his MBBS degree in 2007 but music was what was running in this doctor’s veins, which lured him to Bollywood. Today, after many years of quest, 29-year-old Arko is over the moon with the release of his songs in Pooja Bhatt’s Jism 2. Never did he think that one day he would be credited with the title of lyricist and composer of the songs of such a big banner mainstream movie. From Tagore songs and Bangla bands to Bollywood music — Arko is overjoyed to see his dreams unfold before his own eyes — finally.
You are a doctor by qualification. How did you land up in Bollywood?
Yes, I am not a trained musician. I can’t read music, I just write and sing. The only thing in music that I have seriously learned is Rabindra Sangeet, i.e., Tagore Songs just as any other Bengali kid. Then, when in school I sang for a few small rock bands in Kolkata. I came to Mumbai in 2008 with my musician friend Dev to pursue our dreams in music. Universal Music Publishing signed us up as the songwriter duo for our first album Mira on Silk Road Records. Then nothing much happened for a long time … Dev and I parted ways. I became an independent singer, songwriter and musician … looking for the right break.
How did Jism 2 happen to you?
In November 2011, I met Mr. Mahesh Bhatt through a friend of mine – the talented actor Prashant Narayan, who acted in Murder 2. We have been friends for a long time, Prashant being a songwriter besides being an actor. So, he referred me to Mr. Bhatt, and I went to see him alone — just me and my guitar. He gave me just 10 minutes – an awesome first meeting that eventually went on for one-and-half hours. Mr. Bhatt listened to me, loved my music and put me on to Pooja. I met Pooja Bhatt and she too loved my music. I saw hope. By January 2012 the script for Jism 2 was done and my work began. They called me and I met Dino Morea, who co-produced the film along the Pooja, and they signed me up.
You speak Bengali and write in English. How come you wrote Hindi songs for Jism 2?
Yes, I am primarily a songwriter and I had written only in English before. I always loved to read Hindi and Urdu poetry. Here in Mumbai, I taught myself to write in Hindi. My spoken Hindi may not be ‘rocking’ but I am much better when it comes to writing Hindi songs. So, I have written three songs for Jism 2 – of course with a lot of support and encouragement from Munish Makhija. Munna is a real rockstar and he sat with me for all the numbers, and not only produced the songs but also helped the songs reach where they are now. The advantage of collaborating with Munna on the lyrics is that he has a brilliant sense of music having done the background scores of a number of films – from ‘Rog’ to ‘Paap’. We’re glad they came out great!
How was it working with the Bhatts?
It was just fantastic! To come in as a fresher and work in such a big film is unbelievable. And to try and fill such big shoes as MM Kreem’s was a massive task and indeed a great opportunity for me. The fact that they trusted me and gave me the freedom to do it the way I wanted from my heart, says how much trust they can lay on even in a newcomer like me. They really like my music, and I loved working with them. I would like to thank Mahesh Bhatt, Pooja and Dino – from the bottom of my heart – for believing in me.
Tell us more about the three songs you composed for Jism 2
‘Maula’ – I really like the composition. From the title, you may expect a run-of-the-mill Sufi film track, but it isn’t that. In fact, this very song got me the big break. ‘Maula’ is about surrendering to a greater power and the fact that we are forever stuck in the cycle of desire that can never be fulfilled. I think, contemporary films from the Bhatts have dominant themes that border on desire and desirelessness, and they need a kind of haunting sound track that we have been able to produce with both ‘Maula’ and ‘Yeh Jism.’
‘Yeh Jism’ – The title track is an instantly likable song that starts with a rather generic piece of Western melody. The magic happens with the solo violin piece by the greatest violinist of the country, Suresh Lalwani. It is his graceful bowing that weaves in magic into the song. And for both these songs, we decided to bring back Ali Azmat, the lead singer of the Pakistani band Junoon, who sang ‘Garaj Baras’ for Paap.
‘Abhi Abhi’ is my personal favorite. KK is my favorite playback singer and he has totally rocked in this composition. If you listen to it carefully, this song has a very unusual chord structure. It’s not the usual mukhda-antara song that has a catchy hook, but more of a buildup. We got Shreya Ghoshal and Akriti Kakar to sing the duet version of ‘Abhi Abhi’ with KK, which is a bonus track – just for the music album.
What about the other songs in Jism?
I like all the other songs as well – ‘Yeh Kasoor’ by Mithoon, ‘Darta Hoon’ by RUShk, the band from Karachi, and ‘Hey Walla’ by Unoosha, the young RNB singer from Maldives. They have all done a great job!
So, what’s next? Any more films or music projects in the pipeline?
Yes, I am already working on the music of two Bollywood movies. I am also recording my first Bengali album as a singer, which will be out by September 2012, well before the Durga Puja festivities in Bengal. My next Hindi film is Mastan for which I have composed and sang three songs. I have also composed the background scores of Suryaveer Singh’s Tamanchey. More to come… wish me luck!