THE MUSIC MAN | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 18, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 18, 2012



Emon Saha has followed the footsteps of his father -- the great composer Satya Saha -- to become one of the leading composers and film music directors of our time. Famed for creating many popular tunes, Emon Saha's creativity got a boost from his training under the iconic A.R. Rahman.
In a freewheeling interview with The Daily Star the music director shared insights into the current music scene and a gamut of other issues. Excerpts:
Many people claim that contemporary music fails to live up to the high standards set in the past. What is your opinion?Emon: This is true. Great music emerged during the '60s, '70s and the '80s. Even in the '90s, many memorable songs were made. Over 90 percent of music back then was of a certain standard, compared to only 10 percent of good productions now. All the evergreen songs that are cemented in our hearts and heads were made in the past. So there is no point in denying the allegation.
Is any quality music being made these days?
The scenario is improving. Much good music is being composed nowadays. Many fresh faces are coming on the scene -- some of them composers, some lyricists and some singers. I do not claim that every new arrival is good, but there are always some who show promise. But instead of appealing to the masses, these new songs rely on specific niches.
In the past, movie tunes used to have mass appeal. Is this true today?
Songs from films used to be hugely popular among the masses in the past. For example, my father's song “Lokey Boley Raag Naki Anuraag-er Aaina” or Alam Khan's “Orey Neel Doriya” were on the lips of people from all classes. There are hundreds of popular tunes like these that are still remembered fondly, such as “Jeno Lajuk Lota” or “Amader Deshta Shopnopuri”. Maybe people have forgotten the names of the movies, but they still remember the music.
What changed?
Now we cannot capture a wide variety of listeners. The songs do not have universal appeal, causing a divide among listeners. The main damage is being done on music itself.
In the glory years, we saw the assistants to the great movie directors follow their mentors' paths and take up direction themselves. Was this the same for music directors as well?
It was similar. Satya Saha had Alam Khan, Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul, Moksud Jamil Mintu as his assistants who were directly involved with music making. But after them no new generation of music directors was created. There were many reasons behind this, but the greatest was the financial one. Everyone is running after money now.
You've been tutored by A.R. Rahman. How much of those lessons have you been able to implement in your work?
Only 10 percent at best. It's been a year since I returned after taking lessons from A.R. Rahman. The truth is that our country has neither the market, nor the budget to implement the things that I had learned. The background score of a movie requires at least a Taka 10 lakh budget to give the music director a free rein. But in our country, only Taka 20,000 is spent to record music on stock cassettes. I recently did music for Humayun Ahmed's “Ghetuputro Komola”, where I was given full independence and the necessary budget I needed. But this is not the case for other projects. It is not possible to implement and utilise all the lessons I received from the great composer.
What are your current plans?
I have my own production house, Shorolipi, and I plan to make a movie under its banner this year. I've been planning on bringing out a mixed album, which will be marketed globally. I also aspire to get a higher degree on music from the US.
A number of reality music shows are being made. What role do they play in encouraging new talents?

There are both positives and negatives for these shows. But luckily, the good aspects outweigh the bad. If we take “Close Up 1” star Salma for example, we wouldn't know about her talents, if it wasn't for the competition. Maybe it would've been confined within her village only.
To what extent are you musically influenced by your father Satya Saha?
I'm definitely inspired by his music. The influence is always there sub-consciously. Satya Saha is not only my father, but an institution. He is unparalleled in movie music. Many people have followed my father's music, and they have credited him for that. There is nothing wrong in being influenced by great works.

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