“Knowledge gives you longevity as a music composer” – Vikram Montrose – Planet Bollywood
Vikram Montrose had a very interesting journey as a composer in the Hindi film industry. The Sanjay Dutt produced ‘Hasmukh Pighal Gaya’, which was the first film he worked on, never saw the light of day. A few years later, ‘Kar Har Maidaan Fateh’ by ‘Sanju’ by Rajkumar Hirani became an anthem for many and opened several doors for Montrose in the industry. Since then, the young composer has worked on several films including ‘Prassthanam’, ‘Commando 3’, ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ and ‘Liger’.
Recently he won the Filmfare Award for Best Music for ‘Shershaah’. Vikram shared the award with Tanishk Bagchi, Jasleen Royal, Javed-Mohsin and B Praak, his fellow film composers. For Sidharth Malhotra-Kiara Advani’s starring biographical war drama, Vikram had composed “Jai Hind Ki Senaa,” a soaring patriotic number.
In this interview, Vikram talks about his journey in the music industry, popular tracks, the special equation with Sanjay Dutt, the importance of formal training and more.
‘Attack’ and ‘The Liger Hunt Theme’ are the two tracks you composed for ‘Liger’. You have also collaborated with Azeem Dayani and Dharma Productions before. How was the process of creating these two tracks for the film?
I am lucky for all the opportunities I have received so far. I’m lucky to be part of ‘Shershaah’ and now Liger. I thank Mr. Azeem Dayani for taking me on board for these two projects. The best thing about working with Azeem is the ease and freedom you get as an artist. The brief is straight to the point and he is always sure of what he wants. He is open to new styles or approaches and has complete confidence in the composer. It always makes the process easy. By working with him, an artist can dive without fear. And that’s what motivated me to create songs like ‘Jai Hind Ki Senaa’, ‘Liger Hunt’ and ‘Attack’.
What do you think of the tendency to have several composers on the same film? You have worked on many films of this type, but you have also composed full-fledged albums for a few projects like “Mere Desh Ki Dharti”.
There are different models of musical composition for a film. The regular model is when there is one composer who composes the entire album, then there is the model where multiple composers are brought on board, but is used selectively depending on the film. For me, both have their own merits. Music is one of the key tools for movies and sometimes having a diverse soundtrack for a movie from various composers and their styles works well for that. Then there are movies that require a certain type of sound that is best delivered by a single composer.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the filmmaker and what they think is best for the movie. Personally, I like being part of both configurations. The film’s story and characters will always be the most important part of my song-making process. Sometimes when you have no idea what’s going on in the movie and you just put in a song, there’s a huge possibility that it will backfire. The song should complement the film’s narrative. I always try to make the song contribute to the narrative in some way.
As a child, you learned to play the piano and the guitar. In your opinion, how important is formal training for a musician?
It is very important. Knowledge gives you longevity as a music composer. Things are changing faster than ever. Learning the trade always gives you an added advantage. Whether it’s learning an instrument or the theory of music making or the technical and marketing aspects of music, you need to be open to learning new things. I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn piano, guitar and drums from an early age. The best decision of my life, however, was to learn music production. The music learning process never stops. Currently, I am learning to play the violin. I strongly believe that education always elevates your craft.
The two songs you composed for Sanju’s soundtrack were extremely popular. ‘Kar Har Maidaan Fateh’ is a song that people from different walks of life keep listening to regularly for inspiration. Explain to us the process of creating the song.
“Sanju” was special in more ways than one. ‘Kar Har Maidan Fateh’ was a dream song for me. I was able to create this due to the guidance and motivation I received from Mr. Sanjay Dutt. I was then very new to the industry. I will be forever grateful to Mr. Rajkumar Hirani for believing in me.
“Kar Har Maidan Fateh” has motivated and inspired people in a way that makes me emotional. I feel blessed to see the kind of impact the song has created. I hope I will have more opportunities to create songs like these. Understanding Mr. Sanjay Dutt’s extraordinary journey helped me create ‘Kar Har Maidaan Fateh’. I still feel that the heart and soul of ‘Kar Har Maidaan Fateh’ were the beautifully written lyrics by Shekhar Astitwa i. I learned a lot working on the song.
‘Hasmukh Pighal Gaya’, ‘Prrasthanam’, ‘Torbaaz’ – you had a long association with Sanjay Dutt.
Mr. Sanju is family. I learned so much from him. I continue to learn many important lessons about music and life from him. Mr. Sanju has impeccable musical taste and he made me discover musical genres that I didn’t even know existed. His advice completely transformed my music. He was always there for me and guided me and motivated me to become better and to be humble.
What do you do next?
There is an interesting line up. I can’t wait to introduce a totally different soundscape. There’s also a different style of music that I like to do and I really want to introduce it to people through my own company.