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Interviews |  15 Jun 2017 19:21 |  By Kavita Yadav

"I don't make music to be different": Tashreef singer and composer Rochak Kohli

MUMBAI: Music composer-singer-lyricist Rochak Kohli started his life's journey as a lawyer and then went on to join a radio station as its programming head. After eight years and some music on his CD he tried his luck at music composition with the 2012 hit 'Vicky Donor'. The film starred Ayushmann Khurrana, who also happened to be his college friend. It was Khurrana who referred his name to Shoojit Sarkar and 'Pani Da Rang' germinated. 

Since then Kohli has got into full-time music composition. He was yet again in the news for his unique composition of 'Atrangi Yaari.’ Currently, the composer is in talks for probably the stupidest song of the decade, the 'Tashreef Song'. The song that will be a part of Y-Films 'Bank Chor' was meant to be completely out-of-the-box and sticking to the brief Kohli created 'Tashreef.’

In a candid conversation with Radioandmusic.com, Kohli talks about making music, his studio and why he entertains strangers at his studio. Excerpts.

Be it, Pani Da Rang, Boat Ma Kukduku, Atrangi Yaari or Tashreef, your music stands out.

I don’t make music with the intention of being different, earning money or to get work. I make it from my heart. When these feelings of being competitive and earning money go away, you’re in the state of bliss and the music sounds unique.

Making music like this comes inherently. I try putting my learnings in it. I have had a corporate career in radio for eight years. I have also done theatre in Punjab University and I come from a lawyer’s background. Music happened to me much later. I learnt playing the guitar from guitar books. I did not have clarity on things back then. It was all about composing a tune and chilling. So, the journey has to be held in a calm and patient manner because you deliberately made the decision.

Isn’t making music for films not just about being creative?

I have been in the corporate field for eight years. I understand the protocols. Had I been so creative and sentimental I would have done my own music. I understand the dynamics of the industry.

How did ‘Tashreef’ happen?

The brief given to me from Y-Films was that there is a haati, ghoda and a baba. They have gone to rob a bank and got stuck. It’s the worst day of their life. So, I was in my studio trying to make this song and friend TV actor and comic Vrijesh Hirjee was in. He suggested that I should use the word ‘Tashreef’ because it has always been used with respect, but never in a situation like this. It was an awesome idea. So, I created a scratch and sent it to Ashish Patil from Y-Films one night.

So, that’s how the song got approved?

No, he did not get back to me for a week. I was sure that they did not like my song. So, I messaged him saying, ‘Sir, I am sorry for sending such a bad song’. Half an hour later he messaged me that it was a great song. He had forgotten about the song. It was only after I messaged that he checked it.

Does it happen often? When you send a scratch and it does not get approved?

At times you feel that the song you’ve made is going to redefine the music industry but then nothing happens. Gradually, they do find their destiny. Like with ‘Antrangi Yaari,’ I did not think they would like the song but then Vidhu (Vinod Chopra) sir hugged me because he had heard 200 tracks before mine.

You’ve also sung the ‘Tashreef’ track.

Every song demands a singer and in ‘Tashreef’ I wasn’t convinced about my singing. But, Y-Films liked it. They told me they wanted to keep my voice because I sounded like a total loser (laughs).

Are there times when you’re asked to change your music because of a famous face? How have you reacted to it?

While working on the music of ‘Wazir’ – ‘Atrangi Yaari’ – Vidu Vinod Chopra and (Amitabh) Bachchan Saab were there. I played my music to them and Bachchan Saab suggested we could change a tune in a particular way, something that I wasn’t too convinced about. But, I was like an ant in front of a hill. So, I collected all the courage and told him the reason why I kept the tune the way it was. He was generous enough to understand my point and retain it. I respect him for that.

A better studio setup means better sound. How updated is your studio?

Studio gears can never be perfect because they keep getting upgraded every five years. Two years ago I bought a real expensive mike and now there is a new one in the market. Earlier the hard drive used to be 1GB today you have a 20TB hard drive. Eventually, upgrading helps you, but as far as my studio is concerned, I do have top notch guitars and other instruments, but I believe in a minimalistic setup.

Do the mixing and mastering of the songs too happen in your studio?

I am not a mixing engineer. There are people who are trained to mix and master. There are people who have won Grammy by creating songs on their laptop. If your ears are trained, you can mix the best song. I use my studio for recording and jamming, and it’s well equipped for it.

How open are you to giving opportunities to new singers?

I am really looking forward to new talent. But, 80 per cent of the people who walk up to my studio are not serious. They are trying their luck at everything, acting, singing, lyrics writing, dancing, etc. I feel people need to know that industry is serious business. Even if you sing one song, what will you do next. One needs to worship music.

Tell us a few things that we don’t know about you?

I am fond of cooking. My friends are my guinea pigs. I make the most amazing rogan josh. I pick all my masalas from Kashmir. I also believe in creating good karma. This is also why I respect the ones who walk into my studio, even if it’s irritating.

What are your upcoming projects?

'Lucknow Central', 'Kareeb Kareeb' and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s next.