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He's got the Blues

Urdu blues and pop albums — the Colonial Cousin throws light on them in this tête-à-tête with RADHIKA RAJAMANI



Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

HARIHARAN IS associated with different genres of music - film, ghazal, light music and fusion. This `Colonial Cousin' is donning a new avatar - as an actor in the Tamil film Power (the Hindi version is called Aatma) directed by Jayadevi to be released shortly although some would have seen him in Shankar's Boys. But the singer remains entrenched in his music. He is set to create history with his Urdu Blues ghazal album (scheduled to be released by December-January) and a Hindi pop album sometime next year. Over lunch at the Waterside Café, Taj Banjara the singer with his signature ponytail spoke of his latest efforts.

"Jab kabhi bolna waqt par bolna, Mudatton sochna mukhtasar bolna," Hariharan narrates a line from the untitled Urdu blues ghazal album, one-of-its-kind. It is "a growth on Kaash - my last album in terms of groove, scale, orchestration. The lyrics are by contemporary poets - Wasi Ali, Mumtaz Rashid and Salim to name a few. The subjects deal with romance, separation, philosophy."

Global orchestration is the main feature of this eclectic album. It features musicians and music from the world and different parts were recorded in different cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, New Orleans and Toronto. The album is to be remixed in Canada, informs Hariharan. "It includes an Argentinian banjo player and a Chinese girl playing the harp. The drums were recorded in Toronto and strings in Chennai. I have done the musical arrangement with Jolly. We got the tracks ready first and are now layering it. The album has subtle orchestration. I have been working on it for the last two years," he adds.

The exciting part of the album for Hariharan was meeting the international musicians. "They related to the songs, the fact that the music was semi-classical thrilled them more. We had to briefly explain the content but they understood the mood so well and have indeed made the music soulful." Hariharan plans a video of this album as that "helps in marketing."

Hariharan's next project is a Hindi pop album, which he plans to release sometime next year. Ranjit Barot is doing the music. "It will be energetic and rhythmic with contemporary sound. We have done the demo tracks and we are yet to get into the audio stage. The lyrics have not been finalised." A remix of Colonial Cousins may be on the cards as well.

The ghazal album has been in the making for two years. There has been a delay in the release of the film Power. "Whatever I start takes time, perhaps it's in my horoscope," laughs Hariharan. Hariharan's journey in films continues with Dhoop (Hindi), Laksya (Hindi), Mukta Arts ventures and with other composers like Anu Malik, Ramani Bharadwaj, Chakri and others. "Films no doubt enhance the popularity of the singer but the growth as a musician is limited. Earlier there was simplicity in production, today glamour and orchestration has set in. If one is too melodious then one sounds outdated. The culture and the audience has changed," he rues.

Many would find a change of style in Hariharan's music. "It is not a conscious change. I have definitely grown as a musician. I was focused but I am getting more focused now. I am concentrating more on fusion and less on film songs. Our life itself is fusion, so fusion is here to stay," he says. Hariharan is keen to do global, fusion and crossover music as well. "Talks are on with U.S.-based musicians in this connection," he says.

Hariharan is also open to composing for films but "it should be a good subject which offers scope for good songs." This year has been one of concerts for Hariharan. "Concerts sell more these days and I have got so used to concerts that if I am continuously in Mumbai my family asks me whether I am not going for one," he winds up the conversation and lunch.

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