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5-min read

Mohan Kannan on How He Became the Voice Behind Laal Singh Chaddha Motion Poster Song

Mohan Kannan, the voice behind Laal Singh Chaddha motion poster, elaborates upon his creative process and the musicians he works with.

Shrishti Negi | News18.com@shrishti_03

Updated:January 14, 2020, 2:33 PM IST
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Mohan Kannan on How He Became the Voice Behind Laal Singh Chaddha Motion Poster Song
Mohan Kannan, the voice behind Laal Singh Chaddha motion poster, elaborates upon his creative process and the musicians he works with.

With his unconventional voice and penchant for diverse and experimental songs, Mohan Kannan has carved a niche for himself as a musician. Songs such as Kinare, Chaandaniya and Shikayatein are credible testament to the potential of his vocal power.

Kannan's talents were first discovered by singer and music composer Amit Trivedi, who met him at former Indian Idol winner Abhijeet Sawant's album launch party in 2007. At the time, Kannan was starting out as a musician and had just formed his rock band Agnee with three other members Kaustubh Dhavale, Varun Venkit and Chirayu Vedekar.

He made his singing debut in Bollywood with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s Khanabadosh in London Dreams in 2009. He eventually collaborated with Trivedi on Udaan for the song Naav. Since then, there has been no looking back.

Most recently, Kannan embraced the world of poetry in Laal Singh Chaddha's motion poster, wherein he could be heard crooning "Kya pata hum mein hai kahani, ya hai kahaani mein hum." We spoke to him about his creative process behind the song, reunion with music composer Pritam and more.

How did you come on board as the voice behind Laal Singh Chaddha's motion poster?

I got a call from Pritam one day and he asked me to come and sing, and conversations with Pritam are usually like this: “Mohan, are you in Bombay? Are you free and not partying right now? Come sing.” And that time wasn’t any different. Before the dub, and for a while after, I didn’t know which film the song was for, and Pritam had just told me, the lyrics are the most important in the song, do your thing and emote them as much as possible.' I think Amitabh Bhattacharya has outdone himself in this song. A couple of days after I recorded the song, Ajit Andhare from Viacom messaged me and told me that the motion for Laal Singh Chaddha had my voice and that’s when I knew what this was all about.

Most of your and Pritam's previous compositions and songs have been for romantic films (Cocktail, Jagga Jasoos). What does according to you make Laal Singh Chaddha different from them from the perspective of a music expert? 

This is more of a story-telling song, and very poetry driven. Each line is beautifully written and, even while recording, Pritam’s team members were all talking only about how good the lyrics are. Pritam has a fantastic team of singers and musicians who work with him, I met Arijit Singh as part of his team while I recorded Yaariyan for Cocktail (and we all know how brilliant he is), and then Tushar and Akash, who are fabulous singers themselves, helped me record Jhumritalayya for Jagga Jasoos and then this song for Laal Singh Chaddha. This song is special and I’m very honoured and glad to be part of it… can’t wait for the full song to be out, even though I know it’s going to be a long wait for that.

Your collaboration with Amit Trivedi has resulted into classic tracks such as Kinare and Shikayatein. Tell us something about your collaborative process with him.

Amit Trivedi and I met for the first time at Abhijeet Sawant’s album launch in 2007, 3 months after the Agnee album launch, and he spoke to me about how he loved Sadho Re. He’d not released anything much of note yet.. and two years later, he called me to sing Naav from Udaan for him. The process for Naav was very collaborative, with Amitabh, Amit and I trading ideas while recording and the song just taking different directions as we recorded. The next was “Saaye Saaye”, a duet with Rekha Bhardwaj, for the film I Am and that was almost a set part for me apart from some rhythmic bols I did on it that were a little impromptu. Since then, Amit and I have an unspoken understanding of each other, I guess, and our subsequent songs have been a lot of “We know what to expect from each other” and while each song I sing with him is an absolute pleasure, the recording process is far more streamlined.. it’s also a result of the experience he and I have had over time. He’s just grown leaps and bounds in stature from the first time we met in 2007, but I think the human being and the musician in him are the same as in 2007, fresh and excited and always enthusiastic about new different kinds of music.

Do your film songs always reflect your voice?

I usually don’t do songs that I can’t add something of myself to. I choose my songs carefully, depending on the lyrics as well as the melody. There have been enough times that the music director or producer or director of the film have come to me with a song, and I’ve felt after hearing the scratch that the song would sound better in someone else’s voice, and after speaking to them, I’ve made the connection between them and the singer I think will work. I feel every song deserves the correct singer for it, and while I’m super happy to sing more, I need to feel I am doing justice to the composition and that I have added value.

Has there been a music director whom you think you’ll never be able to please?

I don’t think about pleasing anyone, honestly.. in fact, I don’t think anyone thinks like that.. It’s more about the song being the best it can be, and the music director and the singer need to come together to do that. But the closest example I can think of is working with Vishal Shekhar. I have dubbed a couple of songs for them, but it’s not worked out yet (and when I have heard the final version with a different voice, I’ve always realised that the voice they’ve chosen has done more justice to the song).. So that’s something I’d like to change soon. I love their music and we bump into each other quite often, so I’m sure that collaboration will happen successfully sooner rather than later, whether it’s me singing their composition or either of them singing mine.

Has there ever been a pressure to fit to the scene?

Not at all.. the scene is very very accepting right now and I genuinely feel most musicians are excited about their friends and colleagues doing good work and feel proud about each other. I’m glad to be part!

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