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Devang Patel unplugged on rediff.com
Transcript of the interview with Devang Patel
When did you start singing humorous songs in rap style? Were you inspired by Baba Sehgal or some international artiste?
No, not really. In school and college I used to act in a lot of dramas and also sang. When I wanted to become a professional, I chose singing and thought of making an album. I wanted to do something different. Around that time I was doing a lot of comedy dramas; I thought why not compose comedy songs which no one had done before? Thatís how I jumped into the music industry with my humorous songs.
What was your first song and the public reaction?
The first song was the number Madhurit mili rastein me, which I first sang for a Gujarati film. I recorded the song at home because I did not have any money then. I went to different music companies with the recording and all of them threw it out saying that only dandia and bhajans ran in Gujarati and using rap was just out of question. But I finally convinced a music producer to release it for free. It was a super-duper hit and broke all the records in Gujarati music sales. It was a new style. People loved it and made it a success. It was because of the success in Gujarati music that I was offered a chance to sing the same song in Hindi for the film Gambler. That was hit too.
Apart from Gambler why haven't you been able to sing for the other films?
I was not into playback singing at all. The Gambler song was an Ďitemí (bestselling) song from my album; the producer wanted it in his film. But after the film was released the song became popular, the hero who sang it in the film was popular, but nobody could recognise Devang Patel! Some said Bali Brahmabhatt had sung (that song)!
So I felt that this was not good because in films, a lot of people claim credit. The hero says my dance was good, the music director says his tune was behind the success, the director says it is his direction, and the producer says that it was all due to his money! The singer goes unnoticed. But when I cut an album then there's only Patelscope and Devang Patel Ė there is nobody else in between to claim the credit.
Even today I have many offers from music directors and producers who want my album's 'item' songs. A music director will get 15 more films because of a popular song but the playback singer gets no benefit out of it.
However, if a music director approaches me with his own lyrics and music and asked me to sing it for them, then I will gladly do it. Like in the film Chahat I sang a song Daddy Cool for Shah Rukh Khan. It was composed by Anu Malik and sung by me. If there are similar offers, then I sing. But if anybody asks for my album 's songs then no, thanks, I'd rather not do it anymore.
Are you a big fan of Louis Bega?
I am not a fan of Louis Bega. I chose his songs because I wanted to make some spoofs based on an international track. Mambo No 5 at that time was very popular. So I selected it for my song.
Why are your songs based on international pop hits? Why donít you compose original tunes?
Lyrics are the most important part in my songs, not tunes. I take tunes that are already popular and just fit the lyrics into it. Now the tunes are easy to make, as they are already hits so my first step becomes easy and also safe. I have done originals, Meri Marzi was mine but later I found out that it was similar to the English number Its my life. Only the idea matched, the tune was different, and mine was humorous. Then I made the album Aish Kar based on an original tune.
I then decided to make spoofs based on international hits. Of course I will not be making such spoofs for the rest of my career. Maybe next time there will be something different.
Who writes your songs?
I prefer to write my own lyrics, nobody else does it for me.
How do you rate the current Indipop scenario in India?
It is growing. Right now pop singers are more popular than playback singers because unlike the playback singers, people can watch pop stars singing and dancing on the screen thus adding to their popularity. I just completed a tour of 20 cities in India and I could see the reaction of people right in front of me. There is a good future for the pop industry.
Also the best part in pop music is that while making the album you can showcase your talent. In Hindi playback singing the problem is that you can sing only what the director wants you to. In pop singing there is no restriction anywhere. For instance to sing classical you have to do riyaz (practice) regularly. But you can't expect Michael Jackson to do riyaz! He was the top of the pop charts. I find singing for pop albums much more satisfying than playback.
Do you feel that you will have to face Devang clones?
Yes I do believe that there will be copies, but first is first! Seeing the success of Kaun Banega Crorepati, others television programs will offer 10 or even 20 crores (100 or 200 million). But nobody can beat the first as he started it all. Anyway, lets see if there is someone trying to copy me. It is good in a way because I can then compare myself!
What's your next project?
My next project is going to be Patelscope 2. With the huge success of Patelscope, Times Music has asked me to speed up this project Ė generally it takes at least a year to finish working on an album; this time I am trying to finish it in 3 months flat.
I am now off to Ahmedabad for the Dandia festival for 15 days and I will start recording after I come back. We are planning to release it in November end.
Henceforth, I have decided to make two albums in a year. One will contain my originals and the other will be sequels to Patelscope like Patelscope 1, Patelscope 2 and so on. These will be only spoofs. So it will be like a new business for me (laughs).
Between singing, acting in music videos, and live shows, what do you like the most and why?
I enjoy each and every part of the walk. That is why I donít want to be a playback singer, singing in one studio in the morning and singing in another during the night. I enjoy writing lyrics, recording the song, and shooting for the album.
But as far as connecting to the audience is concerned, there is nothing like performing on stage. If I get a good response then nobody can stop me. I dance, perform mimicry and also sing Ė itís like a complete entertainment package!
You are also in the news for planning an Indian version of Mr. Bean with Sony Television?
We are working on it. It will be a silent comedy serial without any dialogue. The entire project is in its planning stage and there is very little I can say beyond this.
Produced by SoundPicture Communications