In this regular column Gopal Srinivasan writes on a particular topic related to AR Rahman. This time Gops touches upon several questions that is raised related to the movie Fizaa and A R Rahman involvement in it, in his article titled “Fizaa Conundrum”.

There has been off late a lot of confusion regarding the movie ‘Fizaa’. First with the title itself. As many as 3 movies were being bandied around with the same title. The most interesting of them all was the ‘Fizaa’ that was to be made by Ramgopal Varma. It was to star, in a major casting coup, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and , no prizes for guessing, Urmila Matondkar, with music to be composed by A.R.Rahman. We haven’t heard anything of the movie once ‘Mast’ bombed. The other biggie with the same title was supposed to be Karan Johar’s next, to star Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and then Aishwarya Rai.

The movie is now titled ‘Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham’ and stars Kajol instead of Ash. The third one was a little known movie that was to be directed by a Khaled Mohammed who no one apart from Filmfare and Times of India readers had heard of. It starred a newcomer who went by the name of Hrithik Roshan(this was mid-1999) and opposite him was a flop actress called Neha. What was interesting was that Jaya Bachchan had picked this movie to make her comeback. Nobody probably cared who was composing the music for this relatively obscure film.

Then came 2000 and ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’ happened. Overnight the ‘Fizaa’ by Khaled Mohammed became hot property. Khaled Mohammed is not so much of a stranger to readers of the Times of India and Filmfare. Khaled Mohammed was deputy Editor of Filmfare under Rauf Ahmed who was mainly responsible for bringing Filmfare to the numero uno position among Indian film magazines. Then Rauf Ahmed quit Filmfare following some disagreement with publisher Pradeep Guha and went on to become editor of Screen for some time and later founded Zee premiere magazine.

After Ahmed’s departure Khaled Mohammed, who the rumour mills said had a hand in Ahmed’s exit, took over as editor of Filmfare. Khaled Mohammed is also known as the person who reviews all the latest Hindi movie in the Sunday Times of India. I used to respect his reviews, which were always mildly sarcastic, until he rated movies like ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ at 5 stars. Khaled Mohammed’s entry into filmmaking happened when Shyam Benegal made a movie called ‘Mammo’ out of a script that Mohammed had written. This was followed by two other Benegal movies which he scripted, ‘Samar’ and the as yet unreleased ‘Zubeida’ which incidentally has music by ARR. He stepped into direction with ‘Fizaa’ also scripted by himself.

Anyway, it never crossed my mind as to who could be composing the music for ‘Fizaa’ inspite of the fact that Khaled Mohammed’s other claim to fame, atleast from the perspective of ARR fans , is that ARR has given him the maximum number of interviews. In fact till ‘Bombay Dreams’ happened and ARR went on a talking spree giving interviews to every magazine, website and TV channel that came his way, Khaled Mohammed was the only person who managed to get ARR to say anything in print. I remember it used to be an excrutiating wait for that issue of Filmfare which would have one of ARR”s then supremely rare interviews.

It was when I was reading an interview with Anu Malik in February this year that I was perturbed a bit. Anu claimed he was composing the music for Khaled Mohammed’s ‘Fizaa’. I was slightly disappointed. After all Khaled Mohammed is a self-confessed ARR fan and sub-consciously I guess I was hoping that ARR would do ‘Fizaa’. Anyway after a while I just forgot about it. Then a couple of days later I was reading an interview with ARR and was startled to find ARR say ‘I have just finished recording a bhajan for Khaled Mohammed’s Fizaa’. Soon the surprise turned into mild joy. Aah, So ARR is in fact doing Fizaa.

I thought Anu must have been mistaken or he must have been replaced by ARR who after initially refusing the film had probably found time for it now. As an after thought I wondered if ARR could be doing a multi-composer film. But I discounted the possibility since Anu Malik had taken a strong stand about working in multi-composer films following the ‘Mela’ debacle and had even turned down prestigious films like Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Mission: Kashmir’ because the director wanted Shankar Mahadevan too to compose for the film. And even if Anu did I firmly believed that ARR would never say yes to a multi-composer film.

It was around the time that ‘Bombay Dreams’ was launched and some or the other print or online publication or TV channel had an interview with ARR every day. I noticed that ARR never mentioned ‘Fizaa’ among his forthcoming films. I began to doubt his doing Fizaa especially when Anu reiterated in one other interview that he was doing ‘Fizaa’. I thought it was best to ask the people behind ‘Fizaa’ themselves. I asked a few friends in Mumbai to call up the Filmfare office and find out who was composing the music for ‘Fizaa’.

Unfortunately it was the weekend that the South Filmfare Awards were happening in Chennai and KM was away there. One person spoke to his secretary who firmly told him that Anu Malik had already recorded the songs for Fizaa and that she herself was disappointed that ARR was not doing ‘Fizaa’. One other person spoke to Filmfare correspondent Jitesh Pillai, already irritated by the number of enquiries he was receiving about ‘Fizaa’, said that ARR had indeed recorded some songs for ‘Fizaa’ but he was not sure if they were going to be used in the film but also added that Anu Malik was officially the music director for the film. The confusion and uncertainty continued.

Then came the May issue of Stardust magazine carrying one more of ARR’s umpteen post-Bombay Dreams interviews. It cleared up the air somewhat.The interviewer asked ARR just the right question ‘Are you a singing a song in Anu Malik’s Fizaa?’ ARR answered that at the director’s special request he was indeed singing a song in ‘Fizaa’. He had the choice between a muqabla type of song and a qawaali but opted to sing the qawaali since he had never done one before. He also added that 4 other singers including Srinivas had sung that number. What the interview did not answer was if the qawaali was composed by ARR or Anu .

I was almost on the verge of tearing my hair out in frustration. Fortunately before I could do that the latest Outlook magazine carried an interview with Khaled Mohammed himself wherein he revealed that much as he had wanted ARR to work on ‘Fizaa’ he had not pressurised him to do so being fully aware of the time constraints he was facing. Anu malik was indeed the music director for the film. But, as a special consideration for the director, ARR would play Guest Composer in ‘Fizaa’. Atlast the uncertainty was cleared up. It also proved incorrect my firm belief that ARR would never do a multi-composer film.

Fizaa is produced by Pradeep Guha, publisher of Filmfare and a director of The Times of India group. The movie revolves around a Muslim youth played by Hrithik Roshan who falls prey to the machinations of society’s unsavoury elements and the attempts of his mother and sister(played by Jaya Bachchan and karisma Kapoor respectively) to reform him. Neha plays his love interest. The film also stars Manoj Bajpai and Sushmita Sen in pivotal roles. The movie is reportedly complete and is headed for a early to mid-June release. The music rights have been acquired by TIPS for a phenomenal price if only for the fact that the movie is likely to be the second release of the new hearthrob of millions, Hrithik Roshan.

But some doubts remain. ARR originally stated that he had recorded a bhajan for Fizaa and now he’s saying he’s sung a qawaali. Does that mean he’s composed two numbers for the film? Or has he composed a bhajan but sung for a qawaali composed by Anu MAlik? No answers are available to these questions right now. We only have only have to wait a while for them. But what Fizaa has done is mark a first in ARR’s career. It will be his first multi-composer film(a film on whose music multiple composers work but independent of each other). I hope it will be his last too.

© Gopal Srinivasan

Original Article Revived from Rahmanonline.com which was one of the famous fan websites created by Satish Subramanian in early 2000’s.