From giving us hits like Pani Da Rang (Vicky Donor) to Saadi Gali (Nautanki Saala) to his most recent song Rozana (Naam Shabana), Rochak Kohli has created magic with his melodies. The Music Director, Composer, Singer, Instrumentalist and Lyricist now experiments with the quirky track ‘Tashreef’ from the comedy Bank Chor.

The song bypasses conventions and creates a new kind of music by using, guess what? Plastic cups! To know more about this track, which has caught everyone’s attention, we spoke to Rochak who talks about his music journey, the birth of ‘Tashreef’ and more.

Rochak Kohli

Rochak Kohli

Can you tell us a bit about your journey in music, what was the starting point for you?

I always had a passion for music. In school I would play tabla on my pencil box (laughs). When I went to college, a bunch of my friends and I started a band. During that time, around the early 2000s, there was a huge culture of pop. We had Sonu Nigam, Shaan and many other artists, so Pop music really inspired me. I remember the turning point for me was when Dil Se released. I bought a music cassette of the film with my pocket money. For a month, I drowned myself in that music and go increasingly curious about A R Rahman. After that, I listened to Roja and was extremely inspired by A R Rahman. I wanted to be like him. So it was really A R Rahman and that whole album of Dil Se that helped me realize that I wanted to be in the music industry.

Your first break came in the form of Vicky Donor, did you anticipate that the song, Pani Da Rang, would become such a huge hit?

Vicky Donor happened by fluke. I had no clue what the film was about. We made the song back when we were in college. One day, Ayushmann (Khurrana) was just playing the song and Shoojit Sircar (Director) just happened to be passing by when he heard Ayushmann. He said that they would like to have the song in the film. Ayushmann spoke with me and asked if I wanted to give the song. And I told him what kind of an adult-sort of film was he making! (laughs) I refused at first saying that we should wait for something better or make it as a single. But I am glad we didn’t wait because it became such a big hit! I had no idea that it would be so huge.

Let’s talk about your latest song ‘Tashreef’. It is not the most conventional song, both in terms of the making of the song and the song itself, how did it come about?

This is an absolutely different song for Bollywood. The brief that I got from both Ashish Patil (Producer, Y-films) and Bumpy (Director) was that it needs to be different. They didn’t want a typical song, and were looking for something that was real. This connotation of ‘Lag Gayi Tashreef’ is a phrase that everybody, regardless of it being a college-going boy or a working professional or an elderly man, can relate to. We wanted to make something hummable and easy to hear. And we used a special kind of instrument in this song, plastic cups!

How challenging was it to create such an unconventional song?

The credit for creating this song goes to Adheesh (Verma) who has written the song. Adheesh was a copy writer when I was working in radio in Delhi. He is a fantastic copywriter and we won many awards together. Adheesh is inherently very quirky, he has kept the song on edge and not crossed any line. At the same time, he has ensured that the song is not boring. It was a challenging song to make because a funny song can turn off the audience at any time.

From where do you draw inspiration for music, take ‘Tashreef’ for instance, was there any reference for it?

One way to draw inspiration is to simply pick up the instrument and start playing. But that doesn’t work much for me now because once your passion becomes your job, then you are just doing that. Earlier, when I worked in Big FM, I would just pick up the guitar and a tune would come to me. But music is my daily job now, so that doesn’t happen quite often.

I get inspired by briefs; the situation the song is placed in and I then relate those situations to my own life. For example, if there is a sad song I will associate it to my own life and those tunes come to me. Then of course, there is the lyricist and collaborating with a great lyricist also inspires you.

Rochak Kohli

Rochak gets inspired by the situations the song are placed in

From Pani Da Rang to Tashreef how has your journey in the music industry been?

It has been quite interesting because it started with chasing a dream to now living that dream. Once you are living your dream, the whole thought about being competitive and earning a lot of money, all that goes away. I am at peace right now because when I am working on music, I am working with all my heart and fortunately whatever songs I have come up with are being liked by audiences. For instance, my last song Rozana sung by Shreya Ghoshal for Naam Shabana become a popular song. When the audience genuinely likes your song, it means that the song is a hit.

You have quite a few projects coming up, tell us a bit about them.

I will be doing a song in the film Lucknow Central. It is a sufi track that helps the story move ahead and will be played at multiple crucial points in the film. Another film that I am part of is Irrfan Khan’s next, Kareeb Kareeb Single. I have two songs in it, one is again in the quirky zone while the other one is a romantic number and seeing Irrfan in that is going to be interesting. There are a couple of more projects that are lined up, so I’m excited.