Joi Barua wanted the song O meri laila to be carried forward with heroism which was innocent, and its singer Atif Aslam delivered that perfectly, says the composer.
“I think it was very easy working with him (Atif). He had been travelling for a while, but once he got down to it, it just came together so beautifully. Even though this was a title track, I wanted this to be carried forward with heroism which was innocent.
“Because the context of love here is timeless, beyond life or death…beyond feelings of sadness, cynicism or even mere contentment. Just to celebrate the fact that love existed, that it could all be love. To celebrate the fact that one could be completely immersed in it. That feeling. That is what Atif delivered perfectly,” Barua told IANS.
The song is from the forthcoming film Laila Majnu.
“(Filmmaker) Imtiaz Ali and his brother Sajid Ali have been cognizant and appreciative of my music for a while now. We’ve worked together in the recent past. They loved my Assamese music. About three years ago when they were working on the script of Laila Majnu, they got me involved in it,” he said.
It came as a surprise to him.
“Considering it was set in contemporary Kashmir, a place I had never experienced, a culture I was not aware of, the story was a bit alien to me. But it just meant I had to dive deeper into what I didn’t understand.
“As Kashmiris are, we people from the northeast India are also far from the central perspective of most things Indian. I understood the importance of representing a culture and people. And I think they understood this,” he said.
The Assamese artiste, who had worked in the 2014 Bollywood film Margarita with a Straw and Sanjay Suri’s My Birthday Song last year, does not frequently compose or sing songs for Hindi movies.
“I wanted to do other things and also wanted my music to find more meaning within and without. My time in Mumbai, all the work with advertising, movie backgrounds, songs, my own personal music, there was a time I felt that the music I was doing, needed another direction.
“I wanted to break away and explore things which were completely different from the route I had taken so far. Certain things do come to happen to your life, and you feel like the sky going grey – but only briefly, before new horizons clear up for you.
“I wanted to learn other things, explore other music, other cultures, get back into reading and redefine my core passion again. And this, in ways explains absence from certain sections, but journeys into others.”
Barua, who also has a band, started off 2016 with the album Pride.
“It is not only an Assamese album, but involves songs in English like Riders of the mist and soon you will hear music in other languages too.
“The core issue of identity which is the biggest challenge we face culturally, will be a lifelong endeavour of mine. Somebody has to take forward the lost and sinking narratives. What better than music as a medium? I take responsibility for this myself and promise to do what I can.”
“Was it worth it? Yes, absolutely. It’s added dimensions to my life and work, personally. And I also see a ripple effect on the music community back home. Suddenly, there are a lot of artistes who are not taking their music for granted, but as a means of social expression too.
“It’s like the floodgates are slowly opening. If artistes are successful in holding up the correct mirror to society, the society changes. The world becomes a better place.”