Bollywood playback singer and composer Shaan is among the most versatile singers of the decade. Having said that, he has sung various songs from almost all the genres including pop, patriotic, jazz, ghazals, hip-hop, rock and many more. Recently, on the occasion of World Environment Day, Shaan, in collaboration with Bhamla Foundation and Hungama composed a new song “Dhakk Dhakk Dharti” in order to increase awareness on the significance of biodiversity. Penned by Swanand Kirkire, the song has already created much buzz and features top musicians and celebs including Adnan Sami, Richa Sharma, Salim Merchant, Shankar Mahadevan, Akshay Kumar, Rajkummar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, Taapsee Pannu, among others.
In an exclusive interview with thestatesman.com, Shaan opened up on the need to conserve biodiversity and how, over years, he has changed his perspective towards nature.
How difficult was it for you to ‘work from home’ and record the song?
For me, it wasn’t that difficult. All thanks to technology and the cooperation of all the singers involved in it. It was quite smooth and of course, having so many voices in one song and to make it sound cohesive together – from the engineering point of view it took a lot of hard work but luckily we had very good technicians. One of them being my own son, Soham, who is very good with that and Aditya, they are one of the finest and best music producers we have, so, they made it all look very easy.
What’s your motivation to be a part of a cause like this?
To be a part of this cause doesn’t take much motivation as we all know what the world is going through at the moment. Not just this, but over the few years, the kind of natural calamities that have been happening to us is a clear indication that nature is obviously not thrilled with the way we humans have treated the environment and our mother nature. These are just the warning signs for more things to come our way. Unless we change our ways, we need to face such drastic situations. Respecting biodiversity is the only way we can move forward and that is the only way another generation to survive.
The ongoing pandemic has somewhat healed the earth in its own way. Would you agree? How do you see it?
Yes, I totally agree that this ongoing pandemic has definitely worked for nature and we know well, how quickly nature is capable of rejuvenating itself. It also goes to show that we as humans are only creating more negative effects than anything positive towards nature and if we leave nature to its own resources, nature doesn’t really need us, we need nature-this is very clear in the last few months, how well nature has healed itself while we have stopped doing our destructive anti-nature behavior.
Music directors are avoiding established singers to bring some novelty into the playback singing while compromising on the quality. To what extent is it true?
I wouldn’t necessarily agree that music directors are avoiding established singers to bring novelty to their songs but definitely I think it is an age of experimentation and you don’t want your songs or your music to sound dated, so yes they do try and use different voices to bring out some freshness to the song. Having said that, there is very little a music director has in casting for a song these days, there is a lot of interference from music companies, from producers, actors, you know, what is trending, which artist has bigger followings on social media. So all these various factors come into play, it is not that simple as it used to be earlier, when you know, you could just cast a voice on the merit of the song and on the merit of the singer.
When it comes to versatility, you have sung in almost all the genres, be it party, classical, romantic, pop and many more. How difficult is it to shift your focus from one song to another?
I am glad that I got an opportunity to showcase my diversity as a singer. I got to sing many different genres but honestly, I do not find it a very difficult process because my process of singing a song is always to give in to the song, what it’s saying, what it’s trying to project; what is the emotion; what is the story of the song; and then getting into that space comes very naturally. So, let’s say if a song has an essence that is interestingly Indian, then obviously I can’t sing it with an urban or western twang. It is playing that part, that character in that song. Also of course, I have to admit that it is always good to listen to all kinds of music. When you are open to all kinds of music you sing all kinds of music. So, growing up I had the advantage of listening to varied genres of music and I am appreciating it as I could use that experience.
The song revolves around conserving biodiversity, considering the recent elephant case; what are your thoughts on the situation?
Yes, incidentally there is a line in the song that says “cheenti ho ya haathi ho, sab mere jeevan saathi ho”, of course here we meant that how big or small the organism is or the sub-species is, everyone is required to diversity. But yes, the mention of haathi, it is very disturbing with whatever happened, and I have a feeling that this has been going on for quite some time and glad that the whole nation, everyone has woken up and this will be the last of such heinous crimes against animals.
You’ve been working on creating songs for environmental issues since the last few years. How has your own perspective towards the environment changed?
Yes, I must admit that while working on these projects in the last 3 years, be it plastic, be it air pollution, be it now – Biodiversity, I have done my own little research and got to know a lot more than I was aware of before I started doing these songs. Now I feel, I’m more aware and armed with more information, and it has definitely changed my ways in conservation of water, natural resources and whatever I can do as a citizen. I now feel more responsible to do than ever before.
Which songs would you say were the game-changers in your career?
Songs that are game-changers in my career would be “Tanha Dil”, would be “Musu Musu Haasi”, in the initial stages of my career. Then, “Chand Sifarish”, “Behti Hawa”, “Jab Se Tere Naina,” these would be some of the important game-changer songs I think.
What would you like to say about the trend of song remakes?
Song recreation is definitely a trend that is here to stay and is going for a while now. Most people aren’t happy and thrilled about it as it is being done in a very casual manner, they are not putting much thought behind it. It’s like ‘ki karna hai toh kar rahe hai’. So I think it’s not so much as making recreations as much as the way they are doing it, in a very irresponsible and non-creative manner. This is not going to work them in any way. Some of the recreations I have liked over the years, but most of them I haven’t.
Please tell us something about your upcoming projects.
Among my recent projects was a song for Baaghi 3 “Tujhe Rabb Maana” which is a solo song from a big Bollywood film in a long time, so I’ve really enjoyed that process. I have songs in Mumbai saga, Bad Boys and a few Bollywood releases but I don’t know when they will be out, because of all that has been going on now. So looking forward to new stuff, also I keep releasing my singles which will also be out in times to come.