Music composer Shani Arshad is one such artist who broke his back for several years before landing projects, such as helming the music of Main Hoon Shahid Afridi (MHSA) and Na Maloom Afraad (NMA). The Express Tribune speaks to Shani about how his stint as composer went into overdrive following these feats.
Hailing from a music background, Shani got his first taste of music production at the age of 18 when he was asked to produce a track for Junaid Jamshed’s solo album Dil Ki Baat. “I used to do a lot of remixes at Eagle Studios and, luckily, Junaid bhai heard one of my remixes, after which the audio engineer formally introduced me to him,” recalls Shani.
This proved to be a turning point in his career, as word spread about a young music producer having stepped into the industry. Shortly thereafter, he bagged projects with the likes of Fakhre Alam, Faakhir and Shehzad Roy and eventually began making jingles for television commercials.
Despite his work on jingles and music production for various artists, it was his and former partner Kamran, popularly known as Kami’s, foray into film music that put him on the music map. “Humayun Saeed approached us [Shani and Kami] for the music and background score ofMHSA. “Initially, I was unsure about whether I would be able to do it but I decided to take it up as a challenge,” says Shani.
Luckily for the Kami-Shani duo, their initial attempt at film music bore fruit and they were then approached for the game-changing NMA. Having previously worked with the film’s director, Nabeel Qureshi, on various TVCs, he felt he was on the “same wavelength” as him. “After years of experience, it is easier for me to gauge what the director or producer is looking for.”
Despite career highs, Shani has also faced a fair share of criticism, with the most common being his soundtracks are heavily influenced by Bollywood. “I have always been against classifying a song as Bollywood, Hollywood or Lollywood. For instance, if I want to do orchestral music and if I use horns in it, you cannot accuse me of copying John Williams’ style of music,” he argues.
Citing the example of how people compare the soundtrack for MHSA to that of Lagaan because both feature instruments, such as the dhol and flute, he states, “Dhol and flute are both Pakistani and Indian instruments. Just because one party from either side incorporates them into their sound, you cannot accuse it of lacking originality.”
Having established himself as the go-to person for film music, Shani already has a few projects in the pipeline, including comedy movieJawani Phir Nahi Aani, romantic drama film Bin Roye Ansoo and Shafqat Amanat Ali’s solo album.