Harris Jayaraj is a happy man. After a long gap, came his music album for the movie Dev starring Karthi. Ask him why there was a big gap and Harris Jayaraj says, “Unfortunately, Dhruva Natchathiram that was supposed to release early this year is delayed. And we worked hard for Vella Raja Karuppu Raja, which could not take off.”
Speaking to News Today, the music composer says, ‘Dev will compensate for the gap. It is an album with variety. Over 15 singers have crooned for the album including S P Balasubrahmanyam.’
Excerpts from his interview
Q: Tell us about Dev.
A: The songs in the film are very close to my heart. I have worked with Suriya in the past and we gave several hits. This is the first time I am part of his brother Karthi’s film. I should compliment director Rajath Ravishankar. We shared a good rapport. I wanted my songs to reflect what he exactly conceived. It should reflect his thoughts. Songs should reflect the mood of the film and the characters and I never wanted it to stand alone. Dev will satisfy all music-lovers as we have tried different genres. Rajath had a certain vision and we had detailed discussions that helped me realise what he exactly wants.
Q: On your trips to distant destinations for composing songs.
A: I sincerely feel a director and music composer should bond well. They should understand each other well and know their likes and dislikes. Going together to a faraway place and sitting together to discuss the story, script and song situations creates a strong bonding between them. You may even call it a honeymoon between the two. When you return, you know exactly what you should do.
Q: You have been in the industry for over two decades. What keeps you going?
A: Even before Minnale happened, I worked as a keyboard player for many musicians and was part of several hits. When I was 19, I got an opportunity to score music for a movie. But I felt I should be thoroughly prepared and, hence, chose to learn more. When I was 23, came Minnale. And Gautham Menon, too, was making his debut. We wanted the album to sound unique and different. Even Jeeva was a newcomer when he made 12 B. I give what the story demands. Though I was part of many cop films, I come up with different sounds. Saamy was loud and racy, Vettaiyadu Vilayaadu was more of a hip-hop and Khaakha Kaaakha had a touch of melody.
Q: Plenty of music composers enter Kollywood. But their lifespan is limited. Why?
A: If your work is good, even if the film fails to make it big among the masses, you will be remembered for your music. I sincerely feel one has to become a composer after learning the art thoroughly. There is abundant talent available and it all depends on how we channelise them. A good filmmaker can get the best out of a composer.
Q: A few in social media allege your songs sound similar. How do you take such criticism?
A: I have my signature style. I want not just the lyrics but every layer of instrumentation to be heard clearly by music-lovers. I am not against criticism. But wonder at their intention. If I am used by them to get attention for their work on social media, I am happy. I have always tried different things. Why not women sing in base pitch and what if a male playback singer croons with a touch of a high pitch in it? As long as your work keeps people happy, nothing else matters.
Q: On rumours that you will be part of Rajinikanth’s film to be directed by A R Murugadoss?
A: (Laughs) I have worked with almost all top actors including Kamal Haasan, Ajith, Vijay, Suriya and Vikram. If an opportunity comes my way, I would be ready to work.
Q: How do you see the trouble around Ilayaraja seeking royalty for his songs?
A: I will keep it simple and straight. Musical genius Mozart was paid by the Austrian kingdom to compose songs for different occasions. Though centuries passed, even today, the royalty for the works goes to Mozart’s museum.