Do you have different approaches while composing music in different languages?
I don’t categorise music. I got the opportunity to do Telugu and Tamil films and I took it up. I want to make music that is liked by everybody – music that is soothing and nice. People say Malayalam is all about melodies, but I give kuthu songs even in Malayalam. Music is very accessible today and everybody knows the kind of music that is coming out in Tamil or Telugu films. At the end of the day , it is all about good scripts.
Is there a lot of pressure when you are composing music for big stars?
It doesn’t matter who is acting in the movie. We can’t just give hits at the tap of a finger. It is God’s gift that I am getting to do good music. I’m relaxed and I’m doing good films. I have been in the industry for the past 22 years and I started when I was 17. I believe it is paying me back now. There is no pressure to churn out hits. I just try and deliver music that suits the script – be it a small or a big film.
So, can we expect you to do more Tamil films after Thozha?
I haven’t signed anything yet, but I will take up films that appeal to me. Thozha was a fantastic experience. It is a well-adapted movie, and I enjoyed composing songs for this film.
Who is your inspiration?
I don’t have one particular person as an inspiration. I’m like this hypermarket where you can find everything. I’ve worked with some of the biggest directors and with some of the upcoming ones, too. I grew up listening to Raaja sir and MS Viswanathan sir. Currently , I like what Santhosh Narayanan and D Imman are doing.
Who are the singers you would like to work with?
I have worked with a lot of newcomers. I think whoever presents my song in a good way is a brilliant singer. I’ve never worked with KJ Yesudas, Chitra and Sujatha. I respect them way too much to work with them. I have to compose a song that I think is good enough to make them sing for me.
Is it essential for a music composer to have technical know-how, like in programming?
It is very important to have basic technical knowledge. A few years ago, knowing musical notes was enough. But now, it helps if you know the technicalities. A music director has to be self-dependent.Even if none of the technicians are available, he should be able to compose his own songs. I think only such composers can survive.I started out as a programmer and I remember a lot of composers used to depend on me.That was just sad. If you don’t get a programmer’s date, then the music takes a backstage and that is the case with several composers today .
You have admitted to having copied from someone else’s music. What compels you lift another song?
I think one should be open to the public. If you have been inspired by a song, just tell the public openly . Even in copying, there are certain rules to be followed.For example, the notations have to be the same. There are only 12 notes in music, and you play with the 12 notes and are trying to present it differently. In that case, there are lots of chances of two songs being similar. I imitate a song mainly because of certain situations. When a director or a producer insists you lift a song, you cannot help it. But that does not mean I do it all the time. I couldn’t have survived in the industry if I had only copied. I’m a normal human being and I admit my mistakes.