Bollywood's music frat divided over the presence of multiple composers on a single project
Rachana Dubey (BOMBAY TIMES; May 19, 2017)

Early this week, Pritam Chakraborty made an exit from his upcoming film Raabta. He stated on his social media page, “I had decided a while back to only do solo composer albums and not have an outside song in my album. In Raabta, producers want to recreate an existing song from the music label as part of promotions, so I have decided to not continue with the film and requested the producers to take out my name from the film credits and promotions and the album will be completed by my company.“

Bollywood, at the moment, is simmering with examples of films that boast of multiple composers. From the one-composer-one-album norm, the industry has veered towards the idea of having multiple composers in an album of five or six songs. Of course, seniors do have their way and that explains why plenty of albums have a single composer, too. A R Rahman, Amit Trivedi, Vishal-Shekhar, Anu Malik, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are among the composers, who don't share credits with others. On the other hand, Amaal Mallik, Tanishk Bagchi and Mithoon represent the breed that seems okay with the idea of partnering with fellow composers.

“Someone like Mohit Suri ropes in multiple composers for creative reasons. We've worked well on Half Girlfriend and Aashiqui 2. I'm careful while choosing projects where I'm not the solo composer. Also, as far as ego and insecurity are concerned, if you are passionate about your craft, you will shine irrespective of who you work with,“ says Mithoon.

Filmmaker Mohit Suri can be credited for flagging off the trend a decade ago. Soundtracks made with this formula work, but the track record isn't 100 per cent. “Getting songs from different composers worked because each one brought a different flavour. I'm not against working with a single composer, but then, he must satisfy my need for variety. Specialization is the nature of the game. With one composer for each song, I also reduce the pressure on the composer,“ argues Mohit.

Commerce, variety and giving new talent a platform are some of the reasons music companies and film makers opt for multiple composers. Singer Sonu Nigam, who maintains a neutral stance, points out the similar treatment was meted out to singers about a decade ago. He recalls how composers would make several singers record a single track. “It's evolution. By making 10 singers record a song, composers like Pritam had once reduced the importance of singers. By roping in multiple composers, companies are now doing the same thing to them. Labels that make films call the shots. And you have to fall in line,“ he says.

Anu Malik, who insists on working solo, contends that after creating a repertoire, he doesn't feel the need to stand in a crowd. And if he's ever cornered to do that, he fears it would pull down the quality of work. “It's a different story if you do it dosti khaate mein. But I don't think a composer should be forced to share credits with others. I don't mind two albums a year, but I mind being asked to give two songs in an album. I will never be able to do justice to an album I don't own,“ he says.

Ehsaan, who follows a similar school of thought, opines that record companies have placed their faith on that one hit song that can help a film sail through. And so, they often run to several composers to find that one chartbuster. He concludes, “In so many cases, like Kaala Chashma in Baar Baar Dekho, the music has done well, but it hasn't done any thing to save the film. In the olden days, songs became hits because they thrived on the film's popularity. The scenario is exactly opposite today, which pressures composers and dilutes the creative process. Though we don't conform to this way of functioning, if it works for someone, bless them.“