Friday, August 10, 2007

The Making of Chaphyache Shimpan


For three years Mandar Karnik waited patiently for me to do this album and just for one song - 'Manaat Maajhya'. The song, written by Kusumagraj appeared in 'Madhavi', a book of Kusumagraj's lyrical poetry. The book has been edited by Smt. Shantabai Shelke. I remember having composed this song soon after Kusumagraj's demise. I was invited to give a musical tribute to him by Vijay Desai of the Yeshwantrao Chavan Pratishthan. I read Kusumagraj again and I would like to talk about my experiences of Kusumagraj and his poetry in greater detail in some different post. Coming back to Manaat Maajhya, the moment I read the lyric, the tune had flowed. The poetry had a definite atmosphere and that had been the source of the tune. My father, who is the staunchest of my critics, gave me a grudging acknowledgement when he heard the song. 'Nice - ' was all he said, but the appreciation in his eyes and his smile (it is a special kind of smile which comes to his lips when he likes something in spite of himself) said a lot.
When Mandar came up with his proposal to produce an album for Sonali, this was the first song that came to my mind. Sonali would be a perfect casting for this song, I realised. Sonali's voice was like a clear stream of water... not too deep and very, very transparent. That was her personality. So the first song was chosen.
Three years passed after the first song was chosen and there were lot of things responsible for this. We heard just the first half of one song in Sameer’s dingy little sitting room in Dadar East. It was the song – Chaphyache Shimpan. It was decided that Chaphyache Shimpan was what the album would be called. It was after this meeting that things started getting out of hand. There was a huge delay after that. Sameer Mhatre just wouldn’t get the opportunity to complete that one song. We also got busy with many other projects, primarily among which was IT’S BREAKING NEWS, which will be my first Hindi movie as a music composer. The background score and the mixing of the film took almost six months. Sameer Mhatre, the keyboardist who was first approached for programming for Chaphyache Shimpan, also could not find a regular time slot for the project. Then one day I met Mandar and Sonali outside the Gypsy Chinese restaurant at Shivaji Park. It was at that time that Mandar said that the only reason he had waited for me was the song Manaat Maajhya. I ended Mandar’s doubts about my commitment there and then and we began work on the album at a brisk pace. Sameer Mhatre would not be available as he was still tied up in a lot of outside projects, so I roped in Sameer Chiplunkar, another talented keyboardist for the programming of the album.
Since then, the album reached its final stage in just a matter of three months. The first part was spent in a studio in Thane where Sameer Chiplunkar programmed all the songs. The studio, called Mixbox, belonged to a young, enthusiastic and a very sincere sound engineer, Rohit Pradhan. Rohit and Sameer were very enthusiastic about their work from the beginning and it really boosted my morale. Most of our recording in Rohit’s studio was done in the nights. It was a very mad time for me. I was doing a play called Baayakocha Khoon Kasa Karava at that time and the shooting of SAREGAMAPA was also on at the time. There were times when I attended the rehearsal of the play at 6 am, then went for the shoot of SAREGAMAPA at 9:30 am, and when the shoot got over at 11 pm, proceeded to Thane to record for Chaphyache Shimpan for the whole night till the next morning! The most enjoyable chore would be to have dinner in the restaurant called Kolhapur.
Once we were through with the programmed tracks we proceeded to record the acoustic instruments. We did that in Studio Buss-in, in Vile Parle (E). This was only a two day schedule which got extended to three days because we decided at the last moment that using saxophone in the song Themb Themb, would greatly enhance the track. In these two days, I could work with some of the most talented musicians in the music industry.

Manish Kulkarni – He played the spanish guitar and the bass guitar in almost all the songs with the exception of Alavate Mi. When on the final day of our acoustic instruments dubbing, we packed up for the day, Manish announced that the bass guitar that he had played was given to him by none other than Tony Vaz, and this was the same instrument that we had heard in most of R. D. Burman’s famous songs. Manish himself is a disciple of Tony Vaz and is one of the few bassists who have retained the Tony Vaz style of bass guitar.

Vinayak Netke – I had been most impressed with Vinayak’s tabla the very first time I had heard it. Vinayak’s shy demeanour simply does not reveal his calibre as a tabla player. He has played tabla in many of Ghulam Ali’s concerts, which is enough to demonstrate his talent and temperament. Those who have heard Chaphyache Shimpan will agree that the tabla in Mile Sagarala has set the tone of that song. Brian Lara’s timing of a stroke is the only sweetest thing that comes anywhere close to the sweetness of Vinayak’s playing.

Nilesh Parab – I have known Nilesh for a really long time now. Nilesh has played all the acoustic percussions in the album. Nilesh is an absolute delight not only to hear but also to watch. His involvement in playing his instruments is total. Rarely does it happen in a concert that his dholki does not meet up with the audience’s ‘Once More’. In this album, his synchronisation with Vinayak was just a delight to watch and listen.

Satyajeet Prabhu – The nostalgic tone of the Accordion in the song Rumjhum Painjan is Satyajeet Prabhu playing. I had seen Satyajeet play the keyboards in all of Ashok Hande’s programmes. He knows a million songs by heart. But I could see him closely at work in SAREGAMAPA. Satyajeet has an impassive expression when he is playing that doesn’t change even when he knows that he has played well. If you catch him at that moment, his lips break into a very slight smile. In social arena Satyajeet is a very talkative fellow and knows a lot of anecdotes of musicians.

Prasad Gondkar – I met this talented sitarist from Pune for the first time in my life. His playing was soft and the tone of his sitar was sweeter than any other young sitarist that I have heard.

Vijay Tambe – I have not seen a humbler musician than Vijay Tambe. The number of talented musicians that Worli Koliwada has given is simply amazing. For years Viju has been playing the flute for me and he excites you every time he plays. There is a lot of flamboyance in his playing in spite of his soft disposition. When he played his solo in Manaat Maajhya, Mandar Karnik’s face showed an expression of satisfaction that was worth all the toil that went to the making of this album. There are some moments in life when you feel that this moment justifies your birth. Vijay Tambe’s playing is capable of giving you that feeling and many such moments.

Jeetendra Thakur – When I heard Narendra Bhide’s title song of Avantika, the first thing I had noticed was the solo violin. I came to know later that it was Jeetu Thakur who had played it. Later, I got a chance to work with him when I did the opening song of the Mumbai Festival – Ram Bhi Tu Rahim Bhi Tu. Jeetu Thakur arranged all the violins in the song. That had been a fantastic experience. Jeetu has a very mild manner when he deals with people and yet he is oozing with a lot of energy. I remember that on the day of the recording, he had a flight to catch. He was on his way to Muscat. But that wasn’t going to hurry him. When he had finished playing in all the songs that were allotted to him, he asked me if there was anything else. I said that there was nothing else, but I would like him to hear one song. He readily acquiesced. I played the song Mile Sagarala for him. On listening to the song, he said I would like to play in this song. “Keep it if you like it.” He told me. But what he played was phenomenal. Now, as the song stands, violin is the central character. While moving out, Jeetu kept telling Sonali, that the compositions were so beautiful that it put great responsibility on her as a singer to do them justice.

Manohari Singh – The legend himself! I have spoken about him in my previous post. I would like to share my experience of working with him. We had planned to use the saxophone only in one song, and that song was Mile Sagarala. Mandar got him in his car on the second day of our recording in Buss-in. The first thing that came to my mind upon seeing him was how this doddering old man was going to manage holding the saxophone – leave alone play on it! But the moment he had the saxophone in his hand, he turned into a regal figure, and when again he breathed life into the saxophone and the key flute, it was magic! Once he went, we took a break and paused to catch our breaths. He was very humble and very professional in his attitude at the same time. After he left, Sameer sent the track of Themb Themb. The moment I heard the track, I told Mandar that whatever happens, we had to get Manoharida back for this song. Sameer had done a very jazz kind of a track, which I know to be Sameer’s first love. Mandar persuaded Manoharida to come back the next day and play again. He came back the next day and played as brilliantly. After the take, he said that he would like to hear both the songs from the beginning to the end like in the old times. He recounted some reminiscences of his days with R. D. Burman. We really had a great time chatting with this musician of yesteryears. He complimented me heartily and gave his blessings to Sonali.

After the music was recorded, we proceeded to record the vocals in Swarlata Studio in Andheri. Bhavesh Liya recorded the vocals. Sonali’s 100% commitment really worked here. Her rendition was always very ‘surel’ (I cannot seem to find any parallel for this word in English. ‘Melodious’ – the closest contender is nowhere close!) But like majority of Marathi female singers, Sonali too suffers from what I call the Marathi Female Singer Emotional Brickwall Syndrome (MFSEB). (Note to Psychologists: Don’t get flustered, I just invented it!) It simply means a lot of Marathi female singers take the song too personally. They get the feeling that the song represents their personal emotional statement. They feel that they are revealing something of themselves when they emote a song. The result is that they end up putting something like a brickwall limiter to their expression and the song feels dry in emotion. Let me tell you that I have seen a lot of Marathi singers with this syndrome and Sonali was not an exception. We worked very hard on this and Sonali showed a 100% commitment to the album. I remember that we recorded Sajana Tujavina at least thrice and Mile Sagarala twice before getting it right. But I must give all credit to Sonali’s perseverance. I was a hard taskmaster and Sonali’s face was never without a smile even if he had to give a particular take thrice, five times or ten times.

Mandar gave me a pleasant surprise when he revealed to me that Avinash Oak, one of the finest sound engineers in India had volunteered to mix the album. However, Mr Oak got an assignment in Baroda or Ahmedabad, and he recommended the name of my dear friend, Nitin Joshi. I had worked with Nitin a couple of times before and knew him to be a knowledgeable and a very creative sound engineer with varied experience. Mandar and I used to travel down to Pune to get the mixing done and Nitin was most cooperative and accommodating through the mixing of this album. Nitin came up with some very interesting creative suggestions to enhance the sound of the album. The only disagreement we had was about a small synth music piece at the end of Sajana Tujavina, which I wanted to keep and Nitin Joshi insisted that we remove. We decided to take a vote, the only other member in the room being Mandar; and I was outvoted two to one! I must concede that I am not missing that piece anymore!

So finally the album was ready and Mandar got it mastered in Yashraj Studios. Three years from the conception to the final execution had been a long journey, sometimes tiring and sometimes full of obstacles, but always enjoyable. This has already been a long post. If I can write something about the individual songs, I will do so at a later date. I would appreciate if readers listen to this album and post their comments and reviews.

Links and Et Cetra:

o You can join the CHAPHYACHE SHIMPAN ALBUM COMMUNITY on Orkut by clicking on the name. You could vote for the songs and post your reviews here too.
o Also check out my website – http://kaushalsinamdar.com/. I have featured an entire section on CHAPHYACHE SHIMPAN. I also have opened up an online music store on which I shall be putting my albums, including this one in another fortnight. If you don’t find the album in your city you could email me or post your requirement on this blog, and I shall make an arrangement to send you the CD.
o Read the review of CHAPHYACHE SHIMPAN by Shri Satish Patwardhan that appeared in Loksatta here.

Listen to a quick trailer of CHAPHYACHE SHIMPAN:


© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2007