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Ismail Durbar
'Devdas makes you cry'
Composer Ismail Durbar believes Devdas is today's Mughal-e-Azam

Ismail Durbar

Music comes straight from the heart. No one knows this better than composer Ismail Durbar.

From an orchestra violinist to a formidable composing talent, the rise of this music director has been meteoric. And mostly due to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who signed him on for Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

Two years later, the duo teams up again to recreate the music of India's most expensive film, Devdas.

He recalls the Devdas experience.

Music runs in my blood. It goes as far back as four generations to my ancestors being musicians. But unlike them I did not want to end up becoming a nobody. My father (Hussain Darbar) -- a struggling composer would tell me stories of his father and grandfather. And about how the industry took advantage of them. I was determined not to let history repeat itself.

I learnt to play the violin, 22 years ago from Ram Prasadji (Father of Pyarelal of the music director duo Laximikant-Pyarelal) and Ganesh (Pyarelal's brother). Ganeshji not only taught me to play the violin but also the workings of the industry. He was as talented as his famous brother but never got his due.

I realised then that even if I became a top violinist, no body but the industry folk would know of my existence.So, I decided to turn music director. And it was no cakewalk.

    All about Devdas
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Neeta Lulla dresses Ash
Writer of Roy's Devdas
Vyjayanthimala speaks
Dilip Kumar on Devdas
Devdas in NY
Bhansali at Cannes
Ash steals the spotlight
Shades from Devdas' saga
On the sets of Devdas
Madhuri Dixit on Devdas
Jackie Shroff on Devdas
The music review

Numerous rounds to producers, listening sessions. I did the usual rigmarole. But had no luck till I met Sanjay Leela Bhansali when he offered me Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

I created the title song of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam eight years before the film's inception. Though many filmmakers found its beat to be slow, Bhansali fell in love with it immediately. He liked it so much he even named his film after the song.

When Sanjay narrated the story of Devdas, I was amazed at the writer's [Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay] ablity to portray such intense emotions.

As the music for Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was a more researched affair, I wanted to create Devdas spontaneously, straight from the heart.

You may not believe it, but I knew nothing of the other versions of the film. I consciously refrained from viewing or listening to their soundtracks, I did not want to be influenced. It was only when our film was 80 per cent complete that I chanced to view the last twenty minutes of Bimal Roy's Devdas. Dilip Kumar has done a fabulous job. Yet, I reiterate, that was not even 5 per cent of Bhansali's interpretation.

I wanted the music to match these heights without bothering if it had the required Bengali flavor. But I did use a classical base and the boul [folk singers] of Bengal.

I felt the music needed to reflect the pain of Devdas, the clash of egos, the pathos of the situation and the tyranny of destiny. Their love is of a different kind; it stays fresh and nothing can sully it. Even the love of a prostitute Chandramukhi is not corrupted. Such purity, the essence of their love, has to mirror in the music.

Madhuri Dixit in Devdas Hamesha tumko chaha takes off from here. The song is situation filmed on Paro's marriage and her arrival at her new home. It also has to depict her inner turmoil and pain as well as that of Devdas. This medley of emotions is guaranteed to bring tears even the most seasoned viewers' eyes.

Bhansali discovered Shreya Ghosal for Aishwarya Rai's Paro on the television show Sa Re Ga Ma. He was keen to cast her as the voice of Paro. The final decision to use her voice was left to me. Devdas has been made on such a lavish canvas that I did not want to take unnecessary risks. But when I heard Shreya's voice, I knew she had immense potential.

Using Madhuri Dixit's voice for Kahe chede mohe was my brainwave. I suggested this to Sanjay and Madhuri, they were game. But they were apprehensive about Maharaji's [Pandit Birju Maharaj, who sang and composed the track] opinion.

When we did approach Maharaji, fortunately, he agreed.

In Cannes, foreign audiences watching the film with sub-titles, were moved to tears. That is how visually moving, Bhansali's film is. It is the Mughal-e-Azam of this decade.

I am grateful to Bhansali for the break he gve me. But, whenever I have a problem with him, I am not one to mince words.

Both of us are short-tempered, and when differences in opinion do crop up, we quarrel for silly reasons.

During Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, we fought often and I threatened to walk out of the film.

Our fights usually end on a bitter note. I did not compose the Devdas theme because we had quarreled for some inane reason. Three months prior to Devdas' music release, Bhansali and I were not even on talking terms.

At the music release function I discovered the album had a special note dedicating Devdas to his father [Navin Bhansali] and mine [Hussain Darbar,who expired recently]. What touched me was that my fathers' name featured before his own.

Bhansali believes in his dreams and is willing to go any lengths to realise them. Had any other director faced even 10 per cent of the problems, Bhansali did, he would have chucked the film mid-way. But this man did not.

No filmmaker in the country can match the standards of Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

As told to Sukanya Verma

ALSO READ: The Devdas Special


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