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News |  21 Feb 2016 00:09 |  By RnMTeam

I created the music of 'Neerja' without watching the film: Vishal Khurana

MUMBAI: Vishal Khurana - the name might not sound familiar but this upcoming music composer is definitely here to stay. After composing a promotional song for ‘Well Done Abba’ and the trailer music for UTV’s ‘Lunchbox,’ the man is now in the news for his outstanding work in Ram Madhvani’s directorial project ‘Neerja’.
In conversation with, Khurana talks at length about his musical journey, initial projects, Neerja and future plans. Excerpts.
When and how did music happen to you?

I was seven when my mother gifted me a keyboard to keep me busy. But that turned out to be my career path. I was still seven when I composed my first melody and as I turned older, it became a habit. I would compose for all my school poems. At the age of 10, I started learning western classical music. A few years later, I composed a musical piece for Padma Shri Shovana Narayan’s performance. This is also when I felt the need to learn Indian classical. For two years, I kept learning Indian classical from different gurus till I met Padma Shri Ustaad Wassifuddin Dagar. I am still learning from him. Every one and half years, I go to Delhi to learn Indian classical from him.
When did you move to Mumbai?

I was around 17-18 when I came to Mumbai and started working on radio spots. I did this for a while and then got into the advertising industry. I started working on jingles next. A couple of years ago, ‘Well Done Abba’ and ‘lunchbox’ happened and then I bagged ‘Neerja.’ It was Ram (Madhvani) who got me this project. I have known him for two years as we worked on jingles together.
Was creating music for ‘Neerja’ challenging?

The team of 'Neerja' had done some research and they had also managed to get videos of her brothers and mother. But I wanted to get into it completely. I wanted to be honest to the subject that I was working on. Therefore, I did research on a personal level. I also took acting workshops to understand the process of a film. Then I started making musical pieces of 10 minutes with various themes like the thrill, danger, family (compassion), sorrow. I wanted to put the feeling of the passengers and the terrorist in my musical pieces. So, at the end of one and a half years, I had made two and a half hours of music without even looking at the film.
Why didn’t you have a look at the film?

When you look at an image or a film the trigger of imagination goes away. The best way of creating music is naturally and that happens when you're open to imagination.
What was on your mind while creating the songs?

If you listen to the songs, you’ll realise that we’ve tried connecting with the real emotions. The song ‘Aisa Kyun Maa’ starts with Hindi alphabets. We used it because that’s the first thing that we learn as kids in school. The usage of these alphabets brings the feeling of innocence to the song. Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics take the song to a different level. We’ve also used mrityunjaya mantra in ‘Jeete Hain Chal’ and ‘Aankhein Milayenge Darr Se’. In ‘Jeete Hain Chal’ the mantra is used for Neerja’s compassion and in ‘Aankhein Milayenge Darr Se’, it’s used for her strength.
Are you always compassionate about your projects?

I always give my best but the responsibility was a lot more in ‘Neerja’. It’s something that happened in reality and Ram Sir had showed a lot of faith in me.
Has the industry appreciated your work in ‘Neerja’ yet?

A lot of biggies like Mr Bachchan, Karan Johar, Riteish Deshmukh have tweeted about the music of ‘Neerja’. Singers like Shankar Mahadevan, Shreya Ghoshal, Neeti Mohan, Papon have made a cover version of ‘Aankhein Milayenge Darr Se’ and uploaded it on social media. Apart from this, Sonam Kapoor and Sunidhi Chauhan have appreciated my work. There are others who’ve spoken about the song giving those goose bumps and bringing tears to their eyes. All of it is encouraging.
What kind of music would you like to work on in future?

I want to make music with good melodies and use them conceptually. I want to add a lot to our films. Over the years, we have moved away from our roots. I want to bring back that Indian music scene. In the past, a lot of well-known musicians like Naushad and RD Burman became successful because they brought folk music from their states -- i.e, Uttar Pradesh and Kolkata—to Bollywood. We need to get back to folk music. I am also a big fan of world music. Thus, no matter which song I work on, I would like to give it an international feel.