Ghibran: Vishwaroopam 2 should have been my first release with Kamal sir
The composer confesses to being bowled over by Kamal Haasan's in-depth knowledge of music
Composer Ghibran has become a Kamal Haasan favourite, having worked with the actor on his last four films, including the recently released Vishwaroopam 2. While the film may have released to mixed responses, there was little doubt over the quality of the composer’s work for the film.
Excerpts from a conversation with Ghibran:
The last time we spoke, you said that you believe that the sound should be proportional to a film’s magnitude.
If I say this has come through in Vishwaroopam 2, I'll sound arrogant (laughs). I believe I've put in my best for the film and I'm glad about the outcome. That said, like any creator, I too have the niggling feeling that there are minor issues that could have been improved.
Considering the budget, expectation and reach involved, Vishwaroopam 2 is my biggest film. But if I were to talk about the workload and effort put in, Uttama Villain was bigger.
While this is your fourth film with Kamal, this is your first with him being the director.
Incidentally, this was the film I first began working on, though it has come out last. I knew him as a director from day one. And then, I also got to see the writer in him on Uttama Villain. What actually made a huge difference was Papanasam (remake of Drishyam) as the script was already in place without his inputs. So I was on my own there.
How valuable were Kamal’s inputs for Vishwaroopam 2’s music?
He knows what he wants and his brief is always precise. In his 60-year-old career, he has seen the evolution of music and has worked with legendary musicians. He is familiar with music from before his time and also keeps track of current trends. In fact, it's his prediction that in the future, films will not have songs in them as we know it.
Background score has always been your forte.
I've given equal importance to songs and the background score from the beginning of my career. I deem Vishwaroopam 2 to be an international film. While the first part happens in just one part of the world, this film travels across many countries, including India. For each of those countries, I tried to incorporate the local music along with ours.
What was it like to score music for a sequel, when you weren't part of the original?
It had its own challenges. We had to do make sure the first part's recall value was present, while also ensuring the sequel felt new. On the other hand, because of the first part, we already knew the dos and don'ts.
Let's talk a bit about the songs in this film. Can we call Naanaagiya Nadhimoolamae a modern-day take on Kamal's Naanaga Naan Illai Thaaye?
That was the first song I composed for Kamal sir. Till you just pointed it out, I didn't even think about Naanaga Naan Illai Thaaye. If our song too stands the test of time like that classic, I'll be glad. As for the other songs, Gnyabagam Varugiradha was tricky as we had to redo the original song. Thankfully, Kamal sir was happy with the first version. After the orchestral version, I realised that there's space for a remix version too. There was the potential to add EDM elements and so we went ahead. I like composing love songs for Kamal sir, and apart from the fact that they usually have a better reach, as a composer you can do a lot with them. That's how Saadhi Madham happened.
You're credited as Mohamaad Ghibran in this film, whereas you've only gone by the name, Ghibran, before. This was spoken about a bit online.
After my first few films, I felt low and hopeless because of rejections and disappointments, and was even about to give up on films altogether. I was waiting for a miracle, and I said to myself that if it happened, I want to use the name 'Mohammad'. When I got the call for Vishwaroopam 2, I had my name on the agreement as Mohamaad Ghibran. The criticism about it is shocking though, but perhaps Kamal sir's current political stand ruffled feathers.
In our last conversation, you said people don't approach you for masala films. Is that true even now?
Yeah (laughs). I love masala films and I want to do a semma kuththu song and a hero introduction song. But I'm happy that I'm getting content-driven films such as Aramm and Magalir Mattum. Eventually, I do hope to do a masala film.
It looks like films in others languages have taken a back seat.
Bayangaramaa note pannirukinga. It was a conscious decision, thanks to the line up of Tamil films I've been getting since 2016, which have all been heavy subjects. But now, I'm working on projects from other languages again. I'm doing a Hollywood short film produced by Pooja Kumar. Interestingly, Idhu Vedhalam Sollum Kadhai was supposed to be an English film, and then, it was planned as a Hindi film, before they eventually decided to make it in Tamil. I'm also working on a Kannada film.
You produced Chennai to Singapore. Any more productions in the pipeline?
Yes, we've started our next production with Rajathandhiram director AG Amid. It's a children’s fantasy film. Apart from that, I'm also producing a few short films. I've always been intrigued by animation; so after learning it for a year and a half, I've made my own animated short film which will be out soon.
Aan Devathai - I've known director Thamira since before I entered the field. It's an exciting project about a father and stay-at-home husband.
Raatchasan - It has come out phenomenally well. It's an intense thriller and the film's emotions lingered in me for a long time.
Imsai Arasan 24th Pulikecei - I love Vadivelu sir and the first part is something I enjoy even now.
Maara - I love Madhavan's charisma and this film is also a musical. So, I’m looking forward to it.
Vikram's untitled project with Director Rajesh M Selva - That's a project I'm really kicked about as I'm a huge fan of Vikram sir, who has an amazing role in the film. It's a lovely team and it feels like home ground as it's produced by Kamal sir.