Vishal Dadlani: I walk in knowing nothing
There are some matters that Vishal Dadlani won’t talk about, like the Pathaan track, Besharam rang, which emerged to be among the best performing songs of 2022, but was mired in controversy with fans stating that it resembled a bunch of old numbers. Then, there are matters on which he pours his heart out, like his work on the recently concluded Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge musical, Come Fall in Love, an international production that offered Dadlani, along with his long-time collaborator Sheykhar Ravjiani, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Considering the fact that musical adaptations of Bollywood films are a rarity, we are eager to know what transpired behind the scenes as the cult classic found a theatrical adaptation in San Deigo. Stating that the project “changed our sensibilities”, Dadlani says, “Dilwale is the fabric for modern pop culture. We worked with Nell Benjamin, who is a multi-Tony Award-winning [composer], and we learnt a lot about approaching music [from a place of] joy. [We were told to] let the lyrics speak to us, and by the end of each page, we [usually] had the song [conceived]. We got 60 standing ovations, and our crowd comprised both American viewers, and individuals who had flown from Mumbai to see it,” he relives the experience, as though it occurred yesterday.
Given that it marks the amalgamation of story-telling techniques and live music, a musical, Dadlani says, is a powerful medium to express emotions. “Sheykhar and I usually get to head on [tours], but we never get to perform the same set on the same stage, over and over again. This experience provided that. We had people coming back to watch it [twice over]. It was challenging, but was one of the best experiences of our lives.”
Dadlani’s recent work is an upcoming track from Amazon Prime’s Farzi, and one that brings him under the familiar wings of composer duo Sachin-Jigar. “They are friends. When they call me for a song, I don’t even ask them about it, I simply show up. By now, they know my range, texture, and the things that I like to do [as a singer],” says Dadlani, who rendered Paisa hai toh, along with Mellow D for Shahid Kapoor’s project.
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We would assume that his success as a composer would influence his renditions while working for other composers, in the capacity of a singer. But Dadlani disagrees. He adheres to one principle — “I come in knowing nothing,” he says. “I only bring my heart. I treat each song as an opportunity to learn something. When a composer calls me, he/she is giving me a chance to improve myself as a musician. You have to put your faith in the composer, because the composer chooses your voice as the instrument for the song.”
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