Music supervision is a whole new concept that has been introduced to the entertainment industry in recent years. Simplifying it for us, the Creative Development & Music Supervisor of Dharma Productions Azeem Dayani tells us that music in Dharma is operated in two categories. “First comes solo composer projects like ‘Kalank’, ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ in which music composers like Pritam design the entire album. Then comes multi-composer projects like ‘Kapoor And Sons’, where filmmakers approach us from the beginning. They narrate us the music requirements according to the situation in the plot. Our role starts from there by identifying suitable artists, and supervise the making, fit of the songs, mixing and mastering, till delivering the song and seeing if it settles well in the film or not,” says Azeem.
Having started career as an advertising executive, Azeem has an unusual journey in music. Interestingly, he doesn’t hail from the music background. “I was very passionate about films. Luckily I got on board at Excel Entertainment during ‘Don-2’ as a part of their marketing team. Later, I have worked with the same designation at T-Series during ‘Nautanki Saala’ and ‘Aashiqui-2’.”
The game took a turn for Azeem at Dharma Productions where he got to work in the music department of ‘Kapoor And Sons’. “As we marketing guys have schedules from 9-6 or so, I used to listen to those songs after my shift. So one day, the head of Dharma Productions Karan Johar heard me and said why don’t you find such good songs if you are listening alike them. I met Arko at party where he proposed me the song ‘Dariya’. I played it to Karan Sir and that’s how the journey started. In ‘Kapoor And Sons’, there was scope for three more songs. Then I met Sony music team for ‘Kar Gayi Chull’. It was already released as a single, but we recreated it for the film. That’s how the process began. I learnt a lot from Amaal and Tanishk. ‘Dariya’ was initially in consideration for ‘Kapoor And Sons’ but later got featured in ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ which was my second association.”
Talking about recreations and several debates associated with remixes he figures out, “Recreations or remixes never intend to ruin the original track’s essence. Tanishk and I have worked on some great originals like ‘Ve Maahi’ as well as recreations like ‘Aankh Maare’ which was widely appreciated. We could count ‘Tamma Tamma’ in it. When we recreate a song, we make sure it to be more fun and creative. In ‘Tamma Tamma’, the challenge was to keep the same vibe with more fun without changing the voice. No one would bring the charm of Bappi Lahiri Sir and Anuradha Paudwal Ma’am.We also went to the legendary radio personality Ameen Sayani who re-dubbed the vocals for us- ‘Uss Saal Ka Lokpriya Geet’. We went to his office where he still has his studio and dubbed this for us. Later, his son Rajil Sayani was so overwhelmed with the response of the song.”
Azeem believes in giving credit or paying tribute to the original artists of any recreation. “In ‘Aankh Marey’, we presented it as a tribute to Kumar Sanu Sir. Also, in ‘Sooryavanshi’ our upcoming ‘Tip Tip Barsa Pani’ we have remixed the original voices only. Udit Narayan ji has also re-dubbed some parts of it.
The only time we changed the voice in a recreation was in ‘The Humma Song’ that featured Jubin Nautiyal’s voice. The motive behind was to change the zone of the song with Jubin’s voice and it did really well. In an interview, A.R Rahman Sir have also appreciated the new version of the song. When we want to experiment and present an original song with a different zone and mood, we make sure maintain the originality. We have never done remixes because they were in trend, but because we wanted to deliver something afresh to the listeners. The idea is to add newness to the original song. If I get it, I go for it. We have done remixes by giving proper credits to the original makers and artists.”
Alongside working for Dharma, Azeem has also done some works outside in ‘Loveyatri’, ‘Bareily Ki Barfi’ etc. He talks about it like, ” ‘Loveyatri’ is one such memorable project since it’s whole setup was in Navratri. Ayush and I know each other very well. It was a whole new experience with the entire team. ‘Dholida’ is my personal favourite. When ‘Chogada’ came on the floors, it took over all the limelight. Kaushik-Guddu & Akash have worked on the title track. Their song in ‘Sooryavanshi’ is also my personal favourite.”
Along with this, Azeem had been a part of the song ‘Vaaste’. He says, “I supervised the song ‘Vaaste’ as Vinod Bhanushali was my first boss in T-Series. From there Dhvani and I know each other and have also worked together in ‘Sauda Khara Khara’ in ‘Good Newwz’.
My first non-film venture with ‘Filhal’ is unforgettable. I have worked with B-Praak on ‘Teri Mitti’, but the kind of love and respect ‘Filhal’ has got even overseas, was unexpected. The story that connected hearts, still holds the record of fastest 100 million mark. We are so grateful to Akshay Kumar Sir who blessed us by featuring in the video.”
Talking about the great example of teamwork and spirit Azeem states that in music as well, the entire team has to be given credit for. “No one can single handedly compose an entire album. A song is made by multiple artists where lyricist, singer, composer, live musicians, programmers, all come together to create an album. In most of the songs I have worked in, Eric Pillai who is the sound engineer has done the mixing. The whole idea lies behind to make the journey easier for the composer(s), artists, as well as live musicians and programmers to bring the best out. You should work with the team rather than making the team work for you.”
Songs like ‘Teri Mitti’ are created once in a lifetime. Its melody, lyrics and each work speaks of sheer sacrifice and patriotism. Azeem says, ” ‘Teri Mitti’ came out of a situational requirement in the climax of the movie. The huge credit goes to the music team and the director Anurag Singh. Be it ‘Teri Mitti’, ‘Buddhu Sa Mann’, ‘Bolna’ etc., we look for the vibe while creating a song. A song’s success is measured from how people respond to it. They should not just listen, but also relate to it. Some songs become and instant hit, some have their journeys. Moreover, its completely a filmmaker’s call whether to make it a solo composer or multi-composer album. Every composer has an unique sound. The task is how to blend them subtly.
A version of ‘Teri Mitti’ has been recently released as a tribute to frontline fighters of Covid-19.
“Apart from this, we always have a room for new talents. If any fresh talent wants to reach us, he can mail us at- [email protected] Akhil Sachdeva debuted as the composer with ‘Humsafar’ in ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya’. So the idea is to bring people who can provide newness to the album at the end,” he says.
Azeem concludes by saying that learning should be never-ending. “My job is to recognise a song. I am grateful to people like Akshay Kumar, Amaal Malik, Karan Johar, Varun Dhawan, Siddharth Malhotra and many more who have played a crucial role in my journey so far. It is very important to acknowledge the people and their efforts who stood beside you during your growth. I also have this wish to work with Mithoon someday soon as I am a great admirer of his body of work. There are few great projects like ‘Dostana-2’, ‘Shershaah’, ‘Laxmi Bomb’ etc., coming up. I like to be in the background because I believe that artists and composers are the face of the song. For me, the biggest thing is when my work gets appreciated by people who don’t know me.”