Engineer turned music composer and singer, Rohan Gokhale came to Mumbai from Nagpur and has made his presence felt by creating soulful tracks in Marathi and Hindi films. He has teamed up with Rohan Pradhan and has worked in films like Student of the Year, Ventilator, Bucket List and more recently, Sanju, among others.

Interview Excerpts

There was a harmonica was lying at home. Maybe someone gifted it to my father. We had a group instrumental competition ​in school ​and I played th​at. Everyone had come with an array of  instruments, including keyboards and guitars and what not. I only had a mouth organ. Unexpectedly, we won!​ That was the trigger point of everything which makes me what I am today. That made me think about music more seriously. No one from my family has ever been in music,No one has any idea what it takes to be in a profession that deals with music. But something definitely germinated in the brain that evening. Later I learnt ​keyboards and guitars.

Of course there were. I come from a small town where the only professions that count are engineer, doctor or CA. Having attained that space, giving it up wasn’t easy. More so since you have landed with a job that is nice and you feel secure in that environment. However, I always knew at some point I will take a plunge and try to do something in music. The what-if question was always there. But my mental preparations had started early. The biggest task was crossing over that question with confidence.

Yes it did, and in a huge way. Since I had come from a technical background, it worked as a homework towards understanding of a lot of softwares. I didn’t exactly have to start from scratch. I could concentrate on the creative learning process rather than the technical learning process. I also knew what kind of experiments I could afford. So my interest coupled with my strength made for a good start. Also, my job brought me to Mumbai which enhanced my exposure. Between work and in the weekends, I tried to grow my contacts and build a network.

We connected while working on a project with Nickelodeon. Though we are very different as individuals, we have a strange musical compatibility. We both can speak in a language that the other grasps and interprets perfectly. So we thought of doing something together to put to test our artistic partnership. And none of us ever had any room for regrets. Each song we work on is a distinguished story which has its own journey with a significant beginning and end. This process of musical story-crafting is a great challenge that we joint take with each new project.

This project brought a lot of responsibility. No one said that to us but it was evident. The film spans over a large period of Sanjay Dutt’s life. The music had to respond to the time of his life, all of which were different musical eras of Bollywood. However, retro played a dominating part. Main Badhiya is one such song. When we were given the briefs, Raju Sir (Raj Kumar Hirani) narrowed it down for us so we understood the mood and character of the moment when the song is being played. That made the task far more simpler. We didn’t have to carry the knowledge of the entire film. Rather, we were free to swim through the emotions specific for the song.

When I and (Rohan) Pradhan got a call from his office, we were in a trance for a while. It was a dream-come-true moment for us. Raj Kumar Hirani is an extremely humble and down-to-earth person. I still remember how he came out to greet us when we went to his office for the first time. No one does that. He is an artist in the truest spirit, knowing exactly what he wants and yet giving a lot of space to the people he is working with. We were at our liberty to create our best. We got together to brainstorm or modify the lyrical aspects many times because we were making a song but Raju Sir was perceiving the placement of the song in the context of the entire film. Such level of multi-tasking is a huge inspiration for everyone around.

Ranbir was totally hands-on in every aspect of the film. Even for the music, he told us that he would be happy to be there in case we need him. So there were times when he was around and we had just nailed a part of the Main Badhiya song. We would call him to be a part of the process. He would listen and pass his feedback, extremely insightful ones. I’d say he has witnessed the growth of the song, stage by stage.

The work for Sanju was already on when we were also working for the film, Bucket List starring Madhuri Dixit. Ranbir has a cameo there. At that point of time we were not supposed to talk about Sanju. So we maintained strict silence. On a day of the shoot Ranbir spots us and says, hey so this is our second film together! Many of the cast and crews turned their heads at us and kept asking, which is the first film. This is a fun memory for us since we were at a complete fix.


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