Kanishk Seth on How ‘Rangi Saari’ Became Part of Bollywood’s ‘Jugjugg Jeeyo’ Soundtrack
The composer-singer’s 2020 collaboration with vocalist Kavita Seth has been recreated (and renamed) as ‘Rangisari’ for the family drama, which released last week
Composer-singer Kanishk Seth’s swirling, emphatic fusion single “Rangi Saari” – created with vocalist (and his mother) Kavita Seth – became one of the artist’s most acclaimed and streamed indie hit songs when it came out in 2020. It stands at over 22 million streams on Spotify and over 12 million streams on YouTube.
Kanishk says that’s how it got noticed by Dharma Productions, who’ve now got the Seths to create a slightly different version of the track for their just-released Bollywood family drama, Jugjugg Jeeyo, starring the likes of Anil Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Neetu Kapoor and Varun Dhawan. The artist confirms that its popularity over the last two years made “Rangi Saari” become “Rangisari” for Jugjugg Jeeyo’s soundtrack. “It feels great to see that an indie release is now getting a place in Bollywood films,” Kanishk says. The tracklist for the movie also features hit-makers like Tanishk Bagchi, Guru Randhawa and Asees Kaur, with the Seths sharing space with (previously) indie artists like guitarist-composer Pozy Dhar (“Tum Jo Gaye”) and R&B vocalist Diesby (“Duppata”).
In an interview with Rolling Stone India, Kanishk talks about the journey of the song, his advice for artists who want a similar reach for their music and plans for 2022. Excerpts:
What was it like being approached by the Bollywood industry to have your song on their soundtrack? How did the connect happen?
Actually, “Rangisari” was supposed to go in a film back in 2017; we had met [film director] Shashank [Khaitan] and he really liked it. Back the song then only had my mother’s vocals. It was a complete female version. He had heard my songs before and really liked my vocals. So, he suggested that we should make this song a duet. We recorded the song as a duet but for whatever reason, it wasn’t used in that film. Then we thought that we should release it independently in 2020.
It was picking up slowly and people had started talking about it. I think the whole rage and boom happened last year. I think it was because of Instagram reels. Almost everyone was making a Reel on this song. He then approached us again for the song to be used in his movie, but unfortunately it didn’t work well in the film. Then, Azeem [Dayani, music supervisor] reached out to us and said that they wanted to use our song in Jugjugg Jeeyo. It feels really nice to be a part of the Dharma Productions family. The song is now reaching many more people and it’s being played on radio and T.V. It feels great.
What do you, as an independent artist, look out for when a project like this happens? Especially when you’re speaking to a major label…
This was a very special deal because most Bollywood projects don’t have sync deals [for a] theatrical release. Only the OTT ones have it. What usually happens is that the label approaches artists and gives them a one-time fee, and later sell it to the production house.
For this one, we had a direct deal with Dharma and not [label] T-Series. I was majorly looking forward to sort out my contract legally first, because that’s really important. This was a very unique deal because the master that we made for it is different. This master is Dharma’s property but the original one is with us. My major concern was to make sure that the song was different, so that we retain the original one and the new one stays with the label.
What kind of agreement did you and the label come to with regards to loyalty or payment?
It was a sync agreement with Dharma. But the catch here, as I mentioned, was that we had to make a new master. We were only coming [on board] on the condition that it would be a pure sync agreement that they’ll use the song in the film, but they wanted some changes to it. I think it was a win-win situation for us. The IP we own was of the master of the original song. We had to make a new master for them. I think Dharma has a policy where they have three contracts: composer, producer and sync agreement. We made a slightly modified version of the original, which Dharma Productions owns. So, we divided our fees in these three contracts.
For artists who feel that having a song on a Bollywood soundtrack is a big fish to reel in, what kind of advice do you have for them?
I would say, stand with it. If your song is doing well on the Internet and major production houses and labels are approaching you, get a lawyer! It’ll give you a good sense of how to negotiate your contract with the label and to make sure you’re represented well. If you’re dealing with the production team or labels directly, it can be a bit intimidating sometimes. It’s good to have a lawyer who can guide you and keep your nerves cool. I think this should be the first step for any artist. After that, just don’t get intimidated by their suggestion to make changes to the track. Be cooperative and collaborative. There’s a reason they are coming to you to do the song. But always make sure you hold your ground.
What kind of reception has the movie song got so far?
The song has received all kinds of views. Majorly, it is positive. Some people are loving the song, and some are going back to listen to the original one and comparing the two. What I’m really liking is that it’s reaching a much wider audience, which it really needed. The song was already doing well on YouTube and other platforms but the major audience in India is the T.V. watchers and people who listen to radio. A lot more people are coming back to the original and saying, “We’re here after listening to it on Jugjugg Jeeyo.” I think I’m really content with such a release. It’s a movie and they’ve done their own interpretation in the video. Me and my mom are both super happy and are loving that it’s reaching an audience at such a level.
What else is coming up through 2022?
People are coming to my channel after hearing “Rangisari” and listening to my new songs. My mom and I are working on a couple of more tracks for Dharma. One of my songs that will come out is again a sync, but it’s a slightly different version of “Ki Jaana” that I released last year. It will be in the film Double XL, which is produced by Wakaoo Films and T-Series, starring Huma Qureshi and Sonakshi Sinha.
I’m working as the music supervisor for the film Gulmohar. It’s a new field to explore but I’m loving it, working with [Indo-American artist and Goldspot front man] Sid Khosla who has done music for [T.V. series] This Is Us and multiple Hollywood projects. It’s been great. There are a couple of other projects but I’m quite enjoying this space working on films, documentaries, etc. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy my new music.
Hear Seth’s recent EP ‘Surmayi’ below.