Flanked by cinematographer/ director Venu, Vishal Bhardwaj walks in with his wife and singer Rekha into the tiny coffee shop in the corner of the mall. He is unperturbed by the teeming crowd that has gathered in the centre of the mall, he knows they are not there for him. After helming 10 movies, he knows only too well the movie promotion drill. Getting up from the coffee table after a brief chat with some of the crew members of the movie Carbon, he walks out of the cafe to have a look at the trailer of the film that was being screened. There was a sparkle in his soft eyes as it set on the big screen. Like a child he smiled, admiring the moving images on the screen.
Vishal Bhardwaj, the man we are so used to associating with terms such as ‘great auteur’ and ‘brilliant musician’, is surprisingly a simple man. As he readily agrees for this interview he also picks up the recorder in his hands and says, “I shall hold it closer and speak so that what I say is clearer later.” The cacophony in the background drowns as the conversation begins. A little insight into how his beautiful mind works.
This is his second outing in the Malayalam film industry as a music composer. His first one was the Manju Warrier-starrer Daya, which was also directed by Venu. Bhardwaj, who predominantly works in Bollywood with Hindi and Urdu, says that working with Malayalam lyrics is a challenging exercise. “It becomes very challenging, at the same time it is also very exciting. You come to know the meaning of the song from the lyricist or the director, but it still remains a phonetic sound for me. It is a very interesting exercise.”
When the phonetics change, the music phrasing changes, the metre of the words changes and so to me, my songs sound different. The whole process is very exciting.”
On his second project with director Venu, he says, “Creative problems arise when people are aesthetically different. But aesthetically we are on the same page. Venu is an old friend and moreover, we like the same kind of cinema.
Therefore, the journey was easy. I was here for three days and within that time I made three songs. I was also very inspired by the story of Carbon.”
He adds, “Since we are in the business of film music, which is bound to a story, I take care of the story of the movie when I compose. Being a director I can understand that and I try not to go away from the story or the characters and remain with the mood or tone of the film.”
Over the years the public has seen various versions of attack on cinema. Speaking about how the film industry becomes a soft target for political agenda he says, “It has always been a soft target. Right now we are feeling the pinch more. When Kaminey was released, in the song Dhan Tana there was a line called Thil thil tharey mera theli ka thel, the Theli community took objectio to that and we got a letter from the Censor Board asking us to change that. And we had to change it. Films are a soft target to get instant publicity.”
Sharing his thoughts about Padmavat and how the industry must respond to it, he says, “In a situation like this, it is not just Bollywood that has to stand together, all the film industries in the country and all the artists in it should come together.”
Has the current political standpoint around filmmaking made him more careful about what he chooses to write or direct? “More than ‘careful’, ‘conscious’ is the right word. Personally, I find it more challenging, because I have to find more innovative ways to express myself. I get disturbed by it, but not hassled by it.”
Vishal has also just released a book of poems. “I have expressed myself in those poems.”
Should films educate its viewers? “A film is not to educate, it is not just to entertain. A film is to reflect what is happening around us in a very entertaining manner. Educating is upto the government. Of course, every film has a moral message to convey but we are not here to educate through our films,” he sums up....