Monday, June 6, 2011

Interview Ram Sampat

The success of D K Bose and Delhi Belly's soundtrack has elated music composer Ram Sampat. He talks to Sandhya Iyer about getting a new lease of life, and takes on director Anubhav Sinha for making remarks about Aamir Khan

The first time one really heard of Ram Sampat was when he took on the might of the Roshans and dragged them to court over a plaigirism issue. Rakesh Roshan had to cough up four crores for the Krazzy 4 number, which angered a section of Bollywood hitherto not used to being held accountable. Though Sampat was a known name in advertising circles, the period after the controversy proved to be an especially trying one for him. "I was out of work for a while. What I felt was pure indignation. I was upset that so much disrespect was being shown. Here, I am asking for credit for what I have created and is genuinely mine. It made me wonder why I am in this business at all? It was great the way the judiciary acted. I just needed to present facts and the decision was made," he says, recollecting the incident with mingled emotions.

The industry was divided over the issue. Some supported him, some didn't. "And among those who did was Aamir Khan," he says. When the actor offered him Delhi Belly, it meant the world to Sampat. "I was struggling at the fringes, so bagging Delhi Belly was huge. In the beginning, there was supposed to be just one song in the film, and the background music. The song was Jaa Chudail... After doing that, I was pretty much left to my own devices. As I went through the script again, I realised that a lot could be developed. Meanwhile, the film's writer, Akshat (Verma) had left a few hook words for me like Jaa Chudail and Teri Tirchi Nazar and Bhag D K Bose...they were just ideas which he thought we could work on. The film was still developing at this stage and was going through an edit change. Aamir was busy with Ghajini, and I asked him if he could hear some of the songs I had created. He heard it and was like 'Wow'. He was very excited," he says.
But Delhi Belly's music is not what one would immediately associate with Aamir Khan, isn't it?. "That's the thing. He's anything but conservative. He's a hip guy and a hip producer," says Sampat.
Once Aamir gave him the go ahead, the composer swung into full action, and created seven highly original and experimental tracks. The theme of the underdog in the film and the accompanying frustration fuelled his imagination. "Sure, I was going though the same feeling," he laughs, "But basically, the tracks came out of a strong feeling to express myself. I was sick of music that said nothing. Also, there were highly talented people who I wanted to introduce through this album. Besides creating something fresh and original, the idea was to reinvent the way songs are used," he says. Now that the tracks are out, he's thrilled with the way the songs are being promoted, with special music videos.
But the popularity of D K Bose has also seen a controversy cropping up, with filmmaker Anubhav Sinha going hammer and tongs at Aamir Khan for being 'irresponsible' for airing the song on prime time TV. Sampat has decided to take on the Cash and Ra.One director head on. Aamir himself is shooting in Pondicherry for his upcoming film, and the composer says that the actor himself would have laughed off Sinha's comments. "But I was very angry when I saw what he said, and I asked Aamir if I could express my opinion. He said 'okay'."
"Of course, I feel protective about Aamir and the whole Delhi Belly team. Also, here I had clawed my way back into the industry from the wilderness. I did it on my own terms. So I really do take this very seriously. Anubhav Sinha - if he has a problem - must argue this factually, not get into cheap mud-slinging. The censors have approved what they have to. I don't find anything wrong with D K Bose. It's a very honest song. It's about underdogs, who have taken blows in life. That one line in it ' Yeh Bheja Garden Hai, Aur Tension Maali Hai' is a profound one, and better than anything I've heard," he says.

Sampat is especially upset because he feels Anubhav Sinha has no right for moral policing when his own films like Cash and Dus have had titillating songs and lyrics. "It's laughable and blatant hypocrisy. What about lyrics like Saiyyan Saiyaan, love the way you touch me' He didn't have an issue with his son listening to it then? Why pick on a hit song, when he has regularly churned out meaningless crap," he retorts.

The composer is not sure why Sinha would want to speak against the film. "It does seem like an attempt to garner cheap publicity. I wouldn't know why else he is doing it. There is hidden agenda for sure, but that only Mr Sinha with his great 'anubhav' can tell and enlighten us. It's not for me to say whether he did it to promote Ra One. His film has to stand its own ground when it releases. There's no point trying to pull others down. It's a petty mentality. We hope Ra. One does well. We want all the films to do well.," he says.

Besides Delhi Belly, Sampat has also signed Reema Kagti's next starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor. "Yes it was Aamir who recommended me to Reema, but he only asked her to see if I suited the bill. So I had to impress Reema. Fortunately, we hit it off really well. The film has a fabulous script and great scope for music, and is the polar opposite of Delhi Belly," he says.
Other offers are pouring in for the hit composer but Sampat says two films a year is all he can handle. "Script is important to me In fact, the first thing Reema and Amair said to me is 'Go through the script and see if you 'd like to be a part of the film' I'd want to be choosy. For now, these two films are more than enough I think," he says.


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