‘My first love is making the song’

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 19 April 2019

Arko Pravo Mukherjee, who recently composed a track for Blank, talks about working with Akshay Kumar, how new singers surprise him and writing his own lyrics

Arko Pravo Mukherjee is one of the talented names in the film industry. The multi-faceted musician has composed and sung several hit tracks like Aaj Phir Tum Pe Pyaar Aaya Hai (Hate Story 2), Saathi Rey (Kapoor and Sons), Tere Sang Yaara (Rustom), Nazm Nazam (Bareily Ki Barfi) and others. He recently composed the promotional song for Karan Kapadia’s debut film Blank. The song stars Akshay Kumar and Karan. 

“A couple of weeks back, Akshay sir called me because they were looking for a song. It’s an extremely serious film but the makers wanted a promotional song. We kind of recorded the song with a few singers and Akshay sir shot for the song just last week,” says Arko in the midst of a recording session. The song titled Ali Ali, says Arko, is in a different zone. “It’s not a love song; it’s about love you feel for god, it’s about self realisation,” he says.  

The singer-composer says that he likes to compose songs which have a story or something substantial to say. Excerpts...

Arko has collaborated with Akshay for several projects. He has composed Tere Sang Yara (Rustom) and Teri Mitti (Kesari). “I have composed music for five of his films. By now I understand what he wants and what’s on his mind. He is quite clear; never confused,” he says.   

Whether it is for Akshay or someone else, does he keep the image of the actor in mind while composing a track? “Yes, I do,” says Arko who made his debut in the film industry with Jism 2 as a lyricist and composer. 

Though Arko began his journey as a composer, he got into playback singing only in 2015. Since then, he has lent his voice to some of the top actors in Bollywood. “My first love is making a song. My voice perfectly suits certain songs but that doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes, a particular singer’s voice is perfect for a particular song. For example in case of Tere Sang Yaara, I thought Atif Aslam’s voice would be right, while for Ali Ali, we have recorded it with several singers. It is for me to see which voice to use,” he says.   

When other singers are lending their voice to the tracks composed by him, does he let them approach the song in their own way? “You are right,” Arko says and adds, “Sometimes, I might have composed a particular song in a certain way and the singer may be approaching it in a different way. We know how established singers like Sonu Nigam or Arijit Singh approach their songs but sometimes new singers also surprise me with their talent.”

Talking about new singers, he says he lets them have a free hand. “If they are not singing the way I want, I request them to approach it differently. Firstly, I explain to them the lyrics, situations, emotions and then let them figure it out on their own,” Arko says. He always requests singers to listen to the song multiple times so that they know the lyrics and the meaning. After all, it’s about emotions. “The audience doesn’t care how techno-savvy you are, they do care about the emotions behind the song,” he points out.  

Arko says this year, he is doing a lot more work. He is doing regional films — Bengali and Telugu, a few singles and a lot of Hindi film tracks too. Is the experience of composing music for other languages (Telugu or Marathi), any different from that of composing in Hindi or his mother-tongue (Bengali)? “When I make a song, I always write my songs. Sometimes there are changes depending on the scene or I, myself make the changes. All this makes the process easy.” 

Arko has mostly sung romantic tracks. He says it could be because he is a romantic at heart. “I love poetry which is about romance, falling in love, different stages in love, separation and so on. This genre comes naturally to me. Having said that, I have also sung songs which evoke other kinds of emotions. I primarily love writing and singing songs which evoke some kind of emotion. I cannot write funny or colloquial lyrics because it does not come naturally to me,” says the talented artist.

The musician believes that artists in general have to keep themselves detached from their work. “As a song writer or filmmaker, it’s our job to create something. As an artist, you are on the edge all the time. And it might happen that people will not like or criticise your work. But you have to keep yourself detached and adopt a calm and peaceful approach. As for me, after I finish working on a track, you will not find the song on my phone. My playlist consists of songs which I am working on currently — either the ones I have written or the ones I have sung or produced,” says Arkowho is set to make his musical debut in Bengali film industry.

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