From Jaipur to Mumbai via Los Angeles— that’s Shashwat Sachdev’s journey to Bollywood. The immensely talented young musician is making his debut as a music composer in Bollywood with Anushka Sharma’s period drama Phillauri.
A day before the film’s release, Shashwat engaged in an exclusive chat with Koimoi, where he talked about his musical journey, creating music for Phillauri, Ustad Rashid Khan and more…
Phillauri marks your debut in Bollywood as a music composer. Tell us a little about yourself
I hail from Jaipur. My father is a doctor and my mother is a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Rajasthan. My music lessons started when I was around 3 and a half-year-old. I started training in Hindustani classical music from my guru Ustad Ramzan Khan saab. I was musically inclined since childhood and it was my father’s dream to see me as a music composer. I always wanted to be a musician but it’s not easy to pursue the career of your choice without parental support in our country. My mother wanted me to study and have a professional career but it was my father, who stood by me through thick and thin with his aim of making me a musician. It’s my father’s dream that I am living. I have studied law at Symbiosis Law School for 5 years then I moved to Hollywood, Los Angeles to produce music in 2011. Meanwhile, I kept learning different kinds of music including western classical. I feel lucky to have got the chance to learn from different musicians.
How did you land in Bollywood?
In L.A, I was working with one of the most influential music producers in the world, Tony Maserati, who has worked with artists like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and others. He kept advising me that you should not miss out on an opportunity to work in an Indian backdrop, in an Indian project because that is actually what you are good at. That’s when I decided that I should go to Mumbai. I had never been to Mumbai before that. I first came here 2 years back. God is really great that I did not have to struggle a lot in Mumbai. I want to thank my parents because without their support I would not be here.
How did Phillauri happen?
I was looking for an agency to manage me when I met Chaitanya Hegde and Datta Dave. They got me in touch with Karnesh sir (Sharma). He asked me to compose a song. I read the script of Phillauri and composed the song Dum Dum. I tried to portray the entire script of the film through Dum Dum. He instantly liked it and offered me to compose music for the entire film. I’m grateful to the director Anshai sir (Lal) and Karnesh sir for having faith in me and giving me that liberty to work. They could have easily approached any A-lister music composer for the film but they believed in me, my conviction.
Critics are showering praises on Phillauri’s music. How do you feel?
Oh! Is it? Really? That’s great! Please convey this to my mother! (Laughs) I sincerely feel I don’t deserve the credit for it. There are a lot of people involved. Credit goes to all of them.
Who is your favourite singer?
Ustad Rashid Khan saab is one of my favourites. He is one prodigy in India who is still not explored in a popular way. I feel he is underutilised, even though I am a nobody in front of him and shouldn’t dare to comment about him. I am a huge fan of his and have met him several times.
Which song from Phillauri’s album is your favourite?
I would like to name Bajaake Tumba because with this song we wanted to do something folksy, something old-timey, yet have a conventional songwriting approach.
Sahiba has got an incredible response already. How do you feel?
I feel alienated for not being able to hear people’s reaction directly from them. I’m a person who hardly steps out of his house except for a drive at around 12.30 in the night sometimes.
What are your upcoming projects?
Of all the projects that I am working on right now, Phillauri was the last one that I started working on and the first one to get released. There are a couple of other projects which are expected to get completed in the next 2-3 months. I will name it only at the right time. Actually, I want you to hear the announcement from the filmmakers first.