Arko Pravo Mukherjee isn’t hankering for an entire film soundtrack. In Kapoor & Sons, which is being released on March 18, Mukherjee has composed and sung “Saathi Rey”. He shares music credits with Badshah, Amaal Malik, Tanishk Bagchi and Nucleya in what is essentially an ensemble album. Each music director gets one song. “It’s a sad song, it comes at a crucial juncture,” Mukherjee told Scroll.in. “I don’t see what’s so great about doing eight songs for a film.”
The dysfunctional family drama, directed by Shakun Batra, marks Mukherjee’s debut as a singer. He will also compose another track for the under-production Baar Baar Dekho, which is being directed by Nitya Mehra for Kapoor & Sons producer Karan Johar.
Mukherjee moved to Mumbai from Kolkata in 2008 and was signed on by Universal Music for an album with band member Dev Bishwadeb Bhaumik. But the market for pop music had dried up by then. Mukherjee met filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt after three years and played the songs “Abhi Abhi” and “Maula”, which he had written and composed. A ten-minute meeting carried on for over an hour as Bhatt urged him to play the songs repeatedly. Bhatt called his producer brother Mukesh Bhatt and his daughter and filmmaker Pooja Bhatt, and they used the tracks in Jism 2 (2012).
“I wrote both these songs in the night time, in inebriated jam sessions with friends,” Mukherjee said. They are not ruled autobiographical, he added. “I think I can fake heartbreaks,” he said.
Jism 2 was an ensemble album with musicians from India and Pakistan on the soundtrack. “There is an associated uncertainty with the arts,” Mukerhjee said, recalling his nervous meeting with the Bhatts after a few film projects had fallen through. “Destiny plays an important part.”
The association with the Bhatts goes beyond the call of duty, according to the musician. Mukherjee considers himself very close to the family. “[Mahesh] Bhatt saab has a terrific ear for music, he knows everything from Tagore to western classical to Hindustani,” Mukerhjee said. “He even sings pretty well! Jism 2 did well, people loved the music, and I still get calls from people every time those songs play on radio.”
Mukherjee’s love for music isn’t always expressed in Hindi. He started out writing in English and has been planning to release an English pop album, which he will record later this year in the United States of America. “I see myself more as a songwriter than a musician as I am not trained in music,” he said.
With a working knowledge of Indian raags and an ability to strum a guitar, Mukherjee believes that his skill as a songwriter have worked for him. “I went to a school in Kolkata where besides Bengali, Hindi songs were very popular,” he said. “I learnt Hindi and Urdu through books which carry translations of poems.” A wariness of “cheap lyricists who murder songs” has also helped him fortify his own skills, Mukherjee added.
With his induction into one of India’s leading film production companies, Mukherjee, who is rarely sighted without his sunglasses, has arrived. "Saathi Rey" is a good sound check for his music, vocals and lyrics, and is all set to sweep listeners with its mushy feel.