It is good to go back to your folk music – Jasleen Royal
There is every chance that most of you are hooked to the fun wedding song Nachde Ne Saare from Baare Baare Dekho. Similar would be the case with the refreshing and soothing number Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. Though Jasleen Royal modestly claims that life hasn’t changed much after the phenomenal response to these songs, but we believe that her work in Baar Baar Dekho has definitely got her noticed. Royal who has composed and lent her voice to both these tracks talks to Pandolin about her year-long journey of working on Baar Baar Dekho, how despite being two very different genres she delivered her best, thus showcasing her versatility, her upcoming projects and more.
You are making your mainstream Bollywood debut with Baar Baar Dekho, what does a debut of this scale mean to you? Ever since both the tracks have released, has there been some sort of a change in your life?
I debuted with a song called ‘Preet’ in Khoobsoorat and then sung a song (‘Badla Badla’) in Badlapur. It was followed by Ghoomketu which is a Phantom film and Haraamkhor. This can be called my first big release, as the other films are yet to release. But a big release doesn’t really mean anything to me. It is just that it came before anything else. Had Haraamkhor come before this, I would have been equally happy.
A big release doesn’t really mean anything to me
How did Baar Baar Dekho happen?
Like I mentioned, I had done Haraamkhor and Ghoomketu, so I was meeting a lot of people. I went to Dharma’s office with some of my scratch music. And they said that they liked it. I also submitted one song which went to director Nitya Mehra. I had been meeting Azeem Dayani, the music supervisor on this film and when he told me about Nitya, I went home and googled her. Her past filmography excited me and I immediately wanted to meet her. So I just got her number from somewhere and messaged her, hoping that I could meet her. Meeting the director and knowing what she exactly wants is a better idea. So I could then cater to her directly. That is how it works in Mumbai. You just keep taking chances by reaching out to people and do your bit.
I met Nitya after 15-20 days of messaging her and she was really warm. But nothing happened for a few months and then suddenly everything started picking up. Being a big film it did take a lot of time to take off. Also with people like Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar and Ritesh Sidhwani involved, the songs had to go through a lot of people. But Nitya always liked the songs and would help me at every stage to make the songs better. She really showed a lot of faith and that kept me going.
Since the song went through a lot of people, were there any changes that were suggested?
There were changes at every stage – let’s do this and that, get some energy and so on. It was always constructive feedback and we kept working towards it till the time that it was perfect. The project took almost a year. We started with simple meetings, then sat on the lyrics, the music etc. That’s how long it actually takes. And I think it was good that they intervened as it only made the songs better.
Ever since both the tracks have released, has life changed for you?
I don’t think so because I’m still working on my projects. I have Shivaay coming up next and my focus is on that. The response to Baar Baar Dekho is nice. It has been a very smooth journey and now I think that my job on Baar Baar Dekho is done. But it is not that I suddenly feel like a singer and composer after the release of these two tracks. I have slowly reached here. So there is no drastic change as such.
It was good that they intervened as it only made the songs better
What brief did director Nitya Mehra give you for these tracks?
For Nachde Ne Saare, she wanted a proper Punjabi wedding sangeet song. Since I am from Punjab, I’ve attended many Punjabi weddings. Kho Gaye Hum Kahan was expected to be something that describes spending the most memorable time with your loved one.
Tell us more about the process of creating both the songs.
I presented one track on the guitar and said that this is what the character of the song would be like. Then we sat on the lyrics and made some changes according to the script and what Nitya had in mind. But they were not big changes. She kept the essence there. If Nitya likes the vibe of the song, she’ll go with it. And that is what I loved about her.
How was the experience of working with Harshdeep Kaur who has previously given hits like ‘Katiya Karun’?
I had been dubbing with a lot of people because I was working on a couple of other projects as well. So I was dubbing different singers and also messaged her (Harshdeep) about this song. And she agreed to it. She is very approachable, easy to work with and it was nice to have her on board for Nachde Ne Saare.
This song also mentions a famous Punjabi tappa Aallo bade karare, which you must have definitely heard while growing up. Did the song bring back memories of a Punjabi wedding?
People have been asking me about the inspiration behind this song. I tell them that I have attended many weddings as a kid, so I put everything that I remember from every wedding together. Lyricist Aditya Sharma and I worked very smoothly and jammed together. As he is from Jammu, he knows a lot about these Punjabi tappas. I was making a melody and he said, “Let’s play aaloo bade karare on this.” So it was a collaborative effort. I owe it to my lyricist who has done a brilliant job on the song.
I have attended many weddings as a kid, so I put everything that I remember from every wedding together for this song
These days, a lot of composers turn to folk music for inspiration and give it a modern twist. Do you think that this trend is picking up in Bollywood?
It is good to go back to your folk music. With time, folk music also keeps evolving. So how it starts may not always be the same, but it’s the melody that stays with you. And everyone has their own take on it. This happens not only here in India but everywhere else. There are certain songs which everyone wants, songs that you’re really close to and you relate to them, so you do your own version of them. That also defines your individualism – your inspirations, where you come from and what your take on the song.
Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is a very soothing track. Just like Nachde Ne Saare, you have sung and composed it brilliantly. What was the story behind its composition?
I really liked this melody and it had been in my head. I also really like Prateek’s (Kuhad, singer) work. And we had been thinking about collaborating. So I sent him my melody and he wrote some lyrics on it. Even Nitya loved it and wanted to keep it as it is. She kept it very minimal and bare, which was a good thing about her because Bollywood music is generally not like that.
Nitya kept it very minimal and bare, which was a good thing because Bollywood music is generally not like that
What is the best compliment that you’ve received for these songs?
Vishal Dadlani’s tweet stayed with me. I have known Vishal for a couple of years now. I remember that I once performed with KK and him. That was the first time that I met him. I was very nervous and shaken at that time. But he told me not to worry about anything. Recently when my song released, he tweeted saying, “Jasleen you gonna be a star! Never had a doubt!” Such words of encouragement from someone like Vishal Dadlani who is a senior means a lot. Farhan Akhtar also tweeted that Nachde Ne Saare has grown to become his favorite from the Baar Baar Dekho soundtrack.
Farhan Akhtar tweeted that Nachde Ne Saare has grown to become his favorite from the Baar Baar Dekho soundtrack
Does singing your own compositions give you more creative liberty?
I started as a singer-songwriter. So when I present my songs, people get used to the voice. Sometimes, they tell me to sing the songs myself. For example, when I did my Shivaay song too, we had to try so many singers. But ultimately I was made to sing it myself. I always love to sing my songs because I’m a singer-songwriter. So I like to sing as a well as compose. I’m singing for other people too. I have sung for Amit Trivedi and Sachin-Jigar. I just want to keep doing music, it doesn’t matter whether I sing or compose.
I just want to keep doing music, it doesn’t matter whether I sing or compose
Tell us more about your forthcoming projects
My song for the Gujarati film Wrong Side Raju, which is an Anurag Kashyap production, has just released. I worked with Sachin-Jigar for that. It is so funny that I make people sing in Punjabi, at times non-Punjabis also sing in Punjabi, and in this film I sung a Gujarati song. I’ve also sung and composed two songs for Shivaay which is going to release after this.