Musician and composer Shiraz Uppal never fails to surprise: he comes up with a project when you least expect it of him. One of the most polished musicians of the country, ripples of disappointment echoed among his fans when they heard about him calling it quits in music. “I had taken some time off on purpose to resolve some inner conflicts while I was on a spiritual journey,” says Shiraz. Now the good news is that Shiraz is back in the business and he has lent his vocals for Bollywood in the film Raanjhanaa, in which he works with the legendary A.R. Rahman.
So, how does it feel returning to the music scene? “I’m very excited. Music has always been a passion and I’m glad to be back where I belong. The break gave me inner peace, contentment and my focus and precision has taken me to another level both personally and professionally.”
The local music scene has changed dramatically since the last time Shiraz Uppal featured in it. In fact, the period from 2003-07 was perhaps a fruitful one for the industry with a plethora of music channels, record labels and stirring music activities happening in the country. So, what change does he find from the last time he had performed? “The music scene in Pakistan revolves more around the political scene. The unrest in the country has led to continuous stress and people hardly have time and money for entertainment besides the security issues,” he says thoughtfully.
Regarding the experience of the title track of Raanjhanaa, Shiraz shares, “I was contacted by my guru, A.R. Rahman back in May this year with an offer to sing the title song. Singing it was quite an amazing experience because of its peppy music and soulful melody ... I love the sitar solo in it. Irshad Kamil, who penned the lyrics, is one of my favourite lyricists as well.”
The A.R. Rahman factor
Shiraz Uppal is perhaps A.R. Rahman’s favourite Pakistan musician. Both have worked together on a couple of projects earlier and the fact is that the Oscar-winning maestro gets Shiraz on board with him on various occasions. Describing his connection with Rahman, Shiraz excitedly says, “It’s been a long journey with A.R. which goes back some 14 years when I sang Shakalaka Baby for the film Nayak. It’s more of a spiritual connection rather than just music. A.R. is a thorough gentleman and I have learnt a lot from him besides music.”
While Shiraz was in the US on his spiritual journey, he performed at a peace concert in NY. “It was one of my most memorable experiences. I performed two qawwalis with A.R. in Syracuse, NY in October last year in the One World Peace Concert. The other artists to perform on the same event, same day were Dave Matthews, Nelly Furtado, Natasha Beddingfild, Cyndi Lauper, Whoopie Goldberg and Phillip Phillips. We, as Muslims, were there to promote peace which is the need of the hour.”
What the future holds
“I am going to India as I have been contacted by couple of film directors who are keen on working with me. Also, I have a couple of interviews with channels regarding Raanjhanaa. Currently, I am concentrating on my own productions in my studio, which will eventually be a part of Bollywood.”