Quitting his corporate job to create his own independent music and bagging a big project like Mirzapur 2, it has been a dream come true journey for singer and music composer Anand Bhaskar. In a candid conversation with Bollywood Life, Anand spoke at length about his magical transition into music, success of Mirzapur, how independent and Bollywood music works and his upcoming projects.
Did you anticipate the kind of response that you have received from the audience for Mirzapur 2 songs?
First of all, I was not sure that I will be called back for Mirzapur season 2. I thought maybe the producers who want to experiment with other music directors. But when I was called back again, there was a kind of pressure on me to deliver songs that are as good as the first season or better. I did not expect such type of overwhelming response from the audience. The music is little different from usually what works in Bollywood. And seeing the numbers grow statistically, it gives reassurance that I have done a fine job.
Since Mirzapur season 1 was already a hit, how did you approach the music of season 2?
I was told that you will be given the situation and have to create better music than Mirzapur Season 1. There are 6 songs in Mirzapur 2 and some songs were really straight forward and some were complicated. And the quality of the music that has come out, wouldn’t have happened without the director and the team’s vision in creating those sounds. The two directors Guru and Mihir were quite involved in the composition and I was given a free hand totally which really helped me while approaching the music.
It seems like you were really in a comfortable space…
Absolutely, I was made to feel very comfortable and welcomed with my ideas. There was never a situation of conflict. There was a different kind of tuning between us. My drafts never got rejected whenever I sent them. So it really boosted my overall confidence.
Was there any kind of pressure?
I think the pressure of delivering well is always there no matter how big composer you become. I think this is a common stress for every artist and I don’t think it will go away.
Tell us how music happened to you.
I was 3-4 years old maybe when my music teacher called my parents and told them that they should let me brush up my music skills outside school curriculum. At the age of 12, I started learning Indian classical music. I trained for almost 11 years and thereafter we formed a band and started learning about different genres. In 2014, I quit my job after 10 years and decided that I will do music full-time without any plan. I started singing for ads and then I naturally shifted to ad composition. And then I started getting films like Baaghi 2 and Mission Mangal and a bunch of films down south. Then I taught myself how to produce music by sitting for hours watching tutorials online. One of my musician friend Ankur Tiwari, who has supervised Gully Boy’s music, recommended my name for the first season of Mirzapur and that is how I landed my big project with the web series. And the rest is history.
But what made you quit your job, what were the circumstances back then?
I have a problem with authority which I realised quite later in my life. Reporting to somebody is something I have not done well. One of my bosses took a dig at me in a board meeting and I was one of the senior guys there. I used to leave for my band (Anand Bhaskar Collective) practice. And I don’t know what got into my boss’ (we are on good terms) head that day when he said that ‘let’s wrap up the meeting by 7 kyuki Anand ko band practice ke liye jana hai’. The comment got me so much that even after working so hard I have to face sarcasm and there’s no thankfulness, I would rather do my own thing. With that emotion, I decided to quit the job.
My wife supported me with my decision and encouraged me to pursue music. She said, ‘Mai sab sambhal lungi, tum music pe focus karo.’ And since I had corporate experience, I could approach music like a business. I made a list of producers and production houses to contact and after my final day in office, I got my first ad. And then in my second ad, I made as much as my salary and I was like, ‘this is a viable business if you are smart about it.’ I was dying to create music and I think quitting my job was the best decision of my life.
Since you have done both independent and Bollywood music, tell us how do you look at them?
In Bollywood, you are singing or composing to the brief’s restriction. And your sensibilities have to match with the director’s. There’s a camaraderie that matters. And if you are not able to develop music to briefs, then Bollywood is not a place for you. It’s like creatively manufacturing music. And Indie is like creating an expression of yourself without anybody controlling you.
Do you think independent artists will get a wider reach if they follow Bollywood’s business model?
That depends on how rich the independent artist is. The growth of independent music is literally one per cent compared to the growth of Bollywood music. If there’s a label out there which can support independent music or artist with the same amout of resources that help Bollywood music grow, then independent artists can also grow. The difference is that Indie music don’t get a proper launch like Bollywood and that’s why they suffer.
Aditya Narayan had said that record labels are not welcoming original music and want to do more remixes. Have you ever been in such a situation?
Honestly, no one has approached me for a remix. If there’s any old folk song which is not Bollywood, then it will be fun for me to work on it because they require that creativity. I feel remixing existing Bollywood songs is like recording the same song again. And this trend is now dying. Now people are again shifting towards original music. If I would create my own label, my focus will be more on creativity and less on business. Music needs to be seen as an art and business, only then you can succeed as a professional.
What reforms would you suggest for the music industry?
What I feel is, ‘Jo aapko bechna hai commercially, wo aap bechiye. Aur jo aapko banana hai apne mann se, usko aap independently release kijiye.’ I feel all commercial artists should give it a thought of releasing songs (jo apne mann se banaye hai) from their banks independently as opposed to waiting for them to get picked up by labels.
There’s a chatter in the industry that artists need to be seen in their music videos to become popular. Do you relate to it?
I don’t think that’s necessary at all. I think it’s a misconception that is spread by people who have been not so close to music but more close to management.
Lastly, tell us what’s next in the store for Anand Bhaskar?
I am working on a web series called Bombay Begum on Netflix, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava. I have actually composed all the songs and in fact, three have already been delivered. I have also sung for a big Amazon web series. And there’s a lot of stuff that I am releasing with my band. One of the songs features singer Mame Khan, so we are really excited about that. And then I am working on a solo album which is not going to be like my commercial work or my band.
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