His name might not ring a bell with the followers of Hindi film music but Raees Jamal Khan has been active as a music composer for several years. He has composed for several private albums and his compositions have been rendered by legendary singers like the late Mehdi Hasan and Ghulam Ali. After making an impressive but lo-key debut with ‘Ruslaan’ in 2009, the composer made a comeback to films this year with the song “Pallo Latke” from ‘Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana.’ In this interview, he talks about his latest hit song, collaborating with young talent, musical lineage and upcoming projects.
The basic hook line has been derived from a traditional folk song from Rajasthan. What was the brief given to you for creating the track?
Yes, the hook line is from a folk song from Rajasthan. I had composed the song for another film but that film got delayed. I played the song to Anurag Bedi, who is the head of Zee Music Company. He loved the song and okayed it in five minutes. Till the last minute, I did not know which film was the song going to be used be in as these days mostly the music companies pick the tracks and they decide which film it will be put in. After a month, I got to know that the song will be a part of ‘Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana’. As it is a promotional track, it was played in the end credits. The video has garnered 27 million hits on YouTube so far and a lot of people have uploaded their cover versions on the internet as well. I am very happy with the response.
You have shared the credits with Zain and Sam for the song. Are they your partners?
Zain and Sam work as programmers and sound designers on my compositions. I met them a while back. They have a fresh thought and a different approach towards music. I liked their ideas and their approach towards programmming and sound designing. We work as partners now and it has been a good experience collaborating with them.
Tell us something about your background as a musician.
I belong to Senia Gharana of musicians. I am from the last generation of Tansen. My father ran a classical music school in Los Angeles and Amsterdam for several years. I had a strong classical background. When I started out, I pitched the idea of making fusion albums to music companies. At that time, they did not think this is something that would work with listeners. Today, everybody is doing it.
Do you have a specific style or a favourite genre as a composer?
I have done a lot of Ghazal albums. I had recorded an album called ‘Once More’ with Tips which had Ghazals sung by Ghulam Ali Saheb which was very successful at that time. I also got the opportunity to work with Rashid Khan Saheb. I like composing romantic songs which have a semi-classical touch to them. You will get a glimpse of it in the music of ‘Ruslaan’, my first film as a composer. I had never really composed a dance number as such but now I am experimenting with different genres “Pallo Latke” is an example of that. In the coming months, you will hear many such songs composed by me.