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Azeem Dayani: Find me a song

What a music supervisor is doing in Bollywood

A still from ‘Baar Baar Dekho’.
A still from ‘Baar Baar Dekho’.

Azeem Dayani hasn’t yet found a way to explain his job to his mother. Being a music superviser is an unusual profession in India, and in Hindi film music, Dayani may be the only one with that designation.

Traditionally, a director and a composer would collaborate on an album. Now, a large number of soundtracks are employing multiple composers. It’s a quick, convenient and, more importantly, successful format for producers and directors.

“My job is to see what the director wants for a situation and mood of a movie and get her a suitable composer to do it," says Dayani. He got the designation as a reward for his contribution to two albums for Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions: Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921) and Baar Baar Dekho. These albums were put together with contributions from newer artistes such as Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Amaal Mallik, Jasleen Royal, Badshah, Nucleya and Tanishk Bagchi. These are names one wouldn’t expect to make such swift inroads into a big banner like Dharma. For Dayani, part of the satisfaction comes from finding a platform for young, fresh talent.

The 29-year-old was working in Dharma’s marketing team when he pitched the song Dariya to Johar and director Nitya Mehra for Baar Baar Dekho. He had heard singer-songwriter Arko Mukherjee play it at a common friend’s house party. “Directors working for Dharma told me that I should suggest more songs and composers such as this," he says. He built on his contacts from his marketing days in T-Series and started tracking down musicians. His job is to match the composer’s sound and style to the situation in the movie and the requirements of the album.

Music supervision is a popular concept in Hollywood, where movie soundtracks are essentially a compilation of existing tracks. But Dayani’s role is a little different.“I don’t look into the technical part of the songs or into the financial negotiations," he says.

His role reflects the trend of increasing involvement of marketing departments in a film’s music. This is something that’s happening across music labels and production houses in Mumbai. As more directors opt for multiple-composer albums, the demand for music supervisors will increase, says Vinod Bhanushali, president, marketing, media and publishing, T-Series. But the role requires special skills that everyone may not have. “You can’t like a song that most others don’t," he says. “You have to know what works and what doesn’t."

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