‘What Pakistan needs now is film music’

Music producer Shiraz Uppal says time for releasing singles is long gone

Our Correspondent April 18, 2016
Uppal is currently working on Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s 3 Bahadur: The Revenge of Baba Balaam and Wajahat Rauf’s Lahore Se Aagay. PHOTO: FILE


Shiraz Uppal spent much of last year on making music for Pakistani films. From Bin Roye and 3 Bahadur to Karachi Se Lahore, the musician had his hands full, so much so that he had to take a break from working on his own music albums. It seems the music producer is yet to lose momentum since 2016 has been panning out for him in a very similar way; Uppal has two important projects on the table: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s 3 Bahadur: The Revenge of Baba Balaam and Wajahat Rauf’s Lahore Se Aagay.

When asked if sticking to film music was a conscious decision on his part, Uppal’s response was rather flat. “I don’t feel like I have to make any songs besides these, especially after four pop albums,” he told The Express Tribune. “The time for singles has passed and what Pakistan needs now is film music. That is what we should concentrate on,” said the musician, who has released albums Tu Hai Meri, Tera Te Mera, Jhuki Jhuki and Ankahi.

Having said that, Uppal claims that, contrary to popular belief, making music for films is much more challenging. “Film music has been my passion from the start. It has more margin for expression and creativity and so, poses some serious challenges,” he explained.

According to the Shakalaka Baby singer, the time is ripe for newcomers to join the Pakistani film and music industry. “The state of films is good because there has been a revival,” stated Uppal. “This has given me the opportunity to introduce a lot of fresh talent, which is something I really enjoy.” It comes as no surprise that the musician enlisted newbie musicians like Kashif Ali, Nirmal Roy, Jabbar Abbas and Faris Shafi to help with the songs for Lahore Se Aagay.

As far as Lahore Se Aagay goes, all of the film’s songs will be fresh, since it is based on the life of a rockstar. Uppal will be doing the audio scoring for it. Stressing upon the importance of being on the same page as the director of a film, Uppal shared, “The director gives a basic brief after which my lyricist and I sit and Skype with him or her from our studio in Lahore. Almost 99% of the directors listen to me and I love it when I am given the freedom to create.”

For him, each musician has their own aesthetics and it feels great to be trusted with the responsibility.

Of his experience of working for Chinoy’s 3 Bahadur , Uppal laughingly said, “I was unable to relate to the animated characters initially so I went and looked into a mirror. My problem was solved immediately as I look like a cartoon too.” Uppal went on to reveal that the theme song for 3 Bahadur will remain the same, just with the lyrics being slightly altered. “The other two songs in the album will be different because the situations depicted in the sequel are different,” he said.

Uppal has also enjoyed some fruitful collaboration with legendary Indian composer AR Rahman, the most popular of which is perhaps the song Raanjhanaa from the 2013 Sonam Kapoor-starrer of the same name. Working alongside the Academy Award winner has taught Uppal how to analyse his own music. Referring to Rahman as ustad (teacher), he said, “Ustaad ke tricks, unconsciously aur consciously, har jaga use hote hain.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2016.

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