Sohail Sen: From What’s Your Rashee? To Gunday…Sohail Sen is no stranger to the world of Bollywood!
Born into a Bollywood family, he’s certainly not taken his lineage for granted and has worked his way up in the world & marks the fourth generation of his family to do so.!
His father, Sameer Sen (of the music director duo Dilip Sen – Sameer Sen fame) has always been a strong influence in his life, as was his paternal grandfather Shri Shambhu Sen & great grandfather Jamal Sen’s singing (home town sujangarh(churu) rajasthan).
Sen started learning music at the age of six. He learnt to play the Tabla as a child, and then went on to learn various musical instruments including the Piano and percussion and rhythm instruments. He learnt classical music from his grandfather Shri Shambhu Sen. He began his career as a music director at the young age of thirteen when he composed the music for a telefilm titled Roshni and for which renowned singer Kavita Krishnamurthy provided playback. He then decided to assist his father & uncle (Lalit Sen) for nine years to fine tune his skills as a film composer.
Sen belongs to a new breed of Music Directors and is well-known for his work on films such as Ek Tha Tiger, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and more!
This week we speak to him on his upcoming work and his recent work for the superhit film Gunday, which proved to be one of the more popular music releases so far this year.
PT: What’s next up for this year?
SS: I am now working on my next project called Guns of Benaras starring Karan Nath, Vinodh Khanna, Zarina Wahab etc. It’s directed by Shekhar Suri. Sometime later I also plan to create…cut a music album of mine, this seems to be the right time in my career to do so, and I am also going to work on the sequel of Chalo Dilli which is called Chalk China.
PT: You sing as well, but have received more success as a music director. Is singing a hobby or also something you want to carry on with?
SS: I am firstly a music director, though I do sing a few songs for my movies, But I mainly create my music to be sung by a wide variety of singers. Singing is something I will do when I create my own album!
PT: For those who don’t know about your family history, who would you say is harder to work for, Sameer Sen or Lalit Sen?
SS: Well, I would say working for both my dad Sameer Sen and my uncle Lalit Sen is hard, mainly due to their forthrightness and honest and invaluable feedback when it comes to my music.
PT: Coming to Gunday, you’ve managed to capture the essence of the 70s raw Kolkata…and do it in a very classy manner. How did the songs come about?
SS: Yes, one of the highlights of the 70s era was the famous ubiquitous cabarets during that time, and we managed to capture that in the song Asalaam-e-Ishqum performed by Priyanka Chopra. This was quite a tough song to compose but it worked out well. As for the other songs, the director Ali Abbas Zafar required them to be pretty contemporary and yes, they certainly had to have a raw feel to them given the story and setting of the movie in pre 70s Kolkata. There is also a Bengali version of one of the songs- Tune Maari Entriyaan. We had Mr Bappi Lahiri sing as well! So this way we did give the entire album the right flair to capture the essence and spirit of that era in Kolkata.
PT: The treatment for the album is very different from your other work (Eg: Ek Tha Tiger). Do you keep the actors in mind when you work on songs for them?
SS: Yes, definitely I keep the actors in mind when I make the music. But it’s not only the actors, it’s also the era and period of the movie, the locations that the movie is shot in, and the overall movie storyline. Since parts of Ek Tha Tiger was shot abroad like Ireland and West Indies, the instruments and feel of the songs were specific to those regions, while for Gunday… the music was more desi and Indian with an earthy, contemporary and peppy feel to it!
PT: You’ve worked with the new breed of singers and some of the older lot in the industry, who do you think stands out.
SS: Yes, there is a lot of talent currently in the music industry. Just to name a few, Arjit Singh, Neeti Mohan, Neha Bhasin, Palak Muchhal, Shahid Mallya etc…are the ones I think stand out for their unique and individual styles of singing and for doing the right justice to each song. On the other hand…the older lot are equally good as they have been in this industry way before us…so their experience counts a lot while working with them!
PT: AR Rehman walked right into the music scene with fairly new young singers and has a very liberal and experimentative style, which has worked successfully. What’s your mantra?
SS: My mantra? I also am very experimental in my work, whether that means using the right instruments specific to the movie, or incorporating a touch of rap or new age if needed. I also know exactly which song should be sung by which singer, and do use a variety of singers for my music. It should be an album set out to enthrall the audience!
PT: Any final note for your followers?
SS: Yes, I would like to add that I come from a family of 4 generations of music, and my own personal journey in the film industry has been wonderful, right from the “What’s Your Rashee?” days to now. It has indeed been an honor and a pleasure creating music and I would just love to continue doing so!