One of Shakespeare’s most memorable quotes is…
‘If music be the food of love, play on…’
While drudging through this particular scene from Twelfth Night on a rainy afternoon just before lunch-break in school, honestly the only thing that got my attention was the word ‘food’! And ever since, the meaning of this phrase has completely eluded me, always dismissed as something to do with love of good music and food, something both the great Bard and I have in plenty! 😉
I was having a secret little laugh to myself thinking about this when Wajid Ali, one half of the popular, trend-setting Bollywood Music Composer duo Sajid-Wajid walked into the studio and broke into my thoughts with…
“If you don’t love food, you cannot create music”
I must have grinned like an idiot at this bold declaration, pleased as I was to have someone big and famous echo my innermost thoughts. Encouraged, Wajid went on to elaborate. At the very basic level, he explained, it’s survival. You gotta eat to live, and live to get your creative juices flowing. Hmmm… simple enough! But wait, there was more wisdom to be had…
‘It’s also about understanding the orchestration of the dish, the inflections of the spices, the tuneful marination of the different ingredients, the eye-catching presentation that will make you reach out for it, and the melody of flavours the food creates in your mouth!’
I almost stood up and clapped… Wow! While I’ve always found a close connect between music and food – the whole fluid process of ideating and creating, and then living and breathing your creation – this little nugget of philosophy, worded so simply and clearly, was just staggering!
But what else would you expect from someone who has music genes inherited from a long and illustrious family of award-winning musicians? Or someone whose creativity has been constantly inspired and fed by his Mom’s legendary cooking?
So the fact that Sajid-Wajid would be the chosen music composers for the first big-scale commercial Bollywood film on food and romance – Daawat-e-Ishq from the house of Yash Raj Films – can’t just be put down to coincidence or luck. It’s karma, darlings! Just meant to be!
But Karma is not an easy guy to come by! There have been struggles in the past, says Wajid, a mixed bag of hits and misses. While some projects took off, some did not live up to expectations at the box office, and others fell at the altar of uncertainties of the industry itself. But the brothers always believed good work would shine through and it did through the flair, fame, and fan-following of Bollywood’s most-loved macho man, Salman Khan! Groovy tracks like ‘Jeene ke hai Chaar Din’ (Mujhse Shaadi Karogi) ‘Do you Wanna Partner’ (Partner), and the two ‘Dabanngs’ are etched in the collective memories of all Bollywood lovers, along with soulful melodies like ‘Chori Kiya Re Jiya’ (Dabanng), ‘Surili Ankhiyo Waale’ (Veer) and something of a masterpiece, and my own personal favourite – ‘Lagan Lagi’ from Tere Naam! (Sukhwinder Singh rocks… wonder what he eats for breakfast???)
Wajid takes a short break from talking, and digs into a piping hot, crisp Vada Pav. As the aroma of garlic and green chutney fills the room, I sheepishly dig in myself and the conversation turns towards, what else… food! And the making of the music of the film Daawat-e-Ishq.
The title track is a true tribute to food – it is a grungy qawwali, quick and exciting like the feast Aditya Roy Kapoor is holding forth for his lady love Parineeti Chopra, playfully yet soulfully offering up his heart like a deliciously laid-out banquet. It aptly showcases love and food and the heady aromas of romance all in one breath, rendered perfectly by Javed Ali. A relatively easy one to compose, says Wajid, with a wink and another big bite of the Vada Pav, while I start nibbling on a delicious little Mawa Cake.
But ‘Mannat’ by Sonu Nigam, he says, was no cakewalk! A song that needed to convey the hero’s passionate yearning… in 3 completely different situations! It took a bit longer than a week, but nothing is insurmountable after platefuls of Paya and Keema Paratha, the regular staple at the brothers’ studio and ‘music-storming’ sessions!
And sure enough, another gem was born – an intense, wavering, hymn-like song of devoted love. Of course, Sonu brought just the right flavor into the song to lift it above and beyond the common. So what makes every Sonu-Sajid-Wajid song special? Is it the decade-and-a-half old bond that has weathered and stood tall in Bollywood, a place famous for it’s transient relationships?
Yes and No!
Yes, Wajid says, because some relationships are like slow-cooked meat, that need gentle simmering to bring out all the flavours, marry all the juices together, steeping and basking in the heat, and lending that tender ‘give’ to the meat. A magical hot-pot creation, in short!
And No? Because Sonu apparently sings best when happily fed with hot, aromatic chunky Dum Biryani made by Sajid and Wajid’s Mom, that is carried in large ‘handis’ over to the studio during recordings 🙂
So, now that you guys have got a peek into the making of the music and the role that good, hearty food plays in it’s inception and creation, stay tuned for more crumbs of food-related Bollywood gossip… and maybe even a few spills! Ooops!