Hesham Abdul Wahab: Music has no language barriers, it is one – EXCLUSIVE – Times of India

“One moment!” musician Hesham Abdul Wahab said, as he stepped into his car, exiting a recording studio in Kochi. The coveted musician is clearly having his ‘moment’, thanks to ‘Hridayam’, the recent ‘Brahmāstra’, and the upcoming ‘Kushi’. Riyadh-born Hesham Abdul Wahab, who hails from a musical family, got launched by world-renowned musician Sami Yusuf, and had always dreamt of becoming a composer. “It was my dream to become a composer,” he told us in a 2017 interview, and today (2022), he is not just any other composer, but a Kerala State Film Award-winning one, and his compositions have gone off through the roof. His associations are in high demand in the Indian entertainment industry, in such a way that he tells us he hasn’t slept in the past 60 hours (clearly not complaining, and only excited), and in the meantime hasn’t allowed fame to get into his head.

“When you taste success, you tend to take it to the head, and it will only burden you with prejudices, which will not only affect your forthcoming projects but also your future. So, every day I enter the studio like a curious kid, who is about to make his debut,” says Hesham Abdul Wahab, speaking exclusively to ETimes. It’s only a few days post the release of ‘Kunkumamaake’, the Malayalam version of ‘Kesariya’, from the upcoming pan-Indian release ‘Brahmāstra’, and the sensational musician is being lauded by music lovers everywhere. “Pritam (composer) sir happened to listen to the songs from ‘Hridayam’. And about four days prior to the recording of ‘Kunkumamaake’, I received a call from an unknown number. Initially, I thought it would be a prank because someone like him approaching me for a project is beyond surreal. Pritam sir told me he has a song for me, and he strongly believes that I should sing it. And when he said it was the Malayalam version of ‘Kesariya’ for ‘Brahmāstra’, I couldn’t help but recall my school days in Saudi Arabia. I had audio cassettes of all of his works, and I would indulge in them. He said we had to record immediately, so I rushed to Kochi, recorded the song myself, and sent it. While singing the song, I sensed a kind of familiarity and enjoyed every moment,” Hesham Abdul Wahab recalled.

‘Kunkumamaake’ broke the internet, and all credit goes to Hesham’s seamlessly fitting vocals that enriched the original and Shabareesh Varma’s soulful lyrics.

Hesham Abdul Wahab is currently working on ‘Kushi’, an upcoming multi-lingual romantic film starring Samantha and Vijay Deverakonda. And the previously mentioned 60-hour stretch work was for the same. Hesham was asked to travel along with the team to Kashmir to compose “The story of ‘Kushi’ revolves around Kashmir, and it was important that I get acquainted with the energy and vibe of the place. I went to Kashmir, and spent a lot of time with our team, exploring the sounds there. I believe music is a journey, and while working on ‘Kushi’ it was crucial that I understand the kinds of instruments popular around that particular place. I woke up to the view of the snow-capped mountains and worked alongside my director Shiva Nirvana. I couldn’t ask more.”

Hesham Abdul Wahab is marking his debut in Telugu with ‘Kushi’, and when asked if there was a languages barrier, he shares, “Language is never a barrier for music, but having said that, every language has its own indigenous style of representation; how a certain emotion is expressed, or the letters/ words the audience respond to. But since Shiva Nirvana is also a lyricist, it was rather comforting for me. Also, music has no language barriers because music itself is one. And ‘Hridayam’ and ‘Kesariya’ are proof!”

Taking musicians along with the team to absorb the essence of the film, is something that happens rarely in the Indian entertainment industry, and is undoubtedly a privilege enjoyed only by a handful of them, and Hesham Abdul Wahab, who is the latest addition to the process, tells us that it is immensely fruitful, “I think around 20 years back, it was this same system, musicians worked alongside the other cast and crew. Before home studios came into popularity, everyone including the producer, director, artists, composer, and lyricist would be present at the studio, share their inputs, and were completely involved in the process. Things have changed nowadays, there is a lack of inspiration, you should be self-inspired. The director would narrate the story over a call, I would sit in my home studio, and have to inspire myself to make the song. While working on ‘Hridayam’, I learned that this is a creative process, and has to work closely with the entire team. When I went to Kashmir and spent time with the team, including Samantha and Vijay Deverakonda, I got to know about the way each of them have conceived the film, and their expectations. And when I saw Sam and Vijay preparing for the part, I am closely witnessing their investment and hard work, which automatically makes me invest more into the process. I have started to do this process. A while ago, I was working for a Malayalam film and was given a caravan near to the location, which is apparently the first here. So, I feel when you start giving your best, they will notice that, and at the end of the day, they want the best.”

Hesham Abdul Wahab divulges that ‘Kushi’ has 5 songs, “I am thrilled, the film, entirely revolves around the two characters and their romance, and I haven’t worked on a project like this yet. ‘Kushi’ has 5 songs, and I could only say that it will be something beyond ‘Hridayam’.”

Other than ‘Kushi’, Hesham has a handful of projects in the pipeline, including ‘Mike’, ‘Philips’, and ‘Ini Utharam’, of which the latter according to him ‘largely depends on the score’.

By the time we concluded the interview, Hesham Abdul Wahab reached his next destination, another studio, to resume work on one of his next, before he could take a good nap. He is certainly sleep-deprived, but also unaffected by the fame, and before he signs off, reveals the secret behind the latter, “I try to think less about the fame part. I am my biggest competition, and only have plans to work on it. I work on each project as if it’s my debut, and I want to keep doing that. Explore more as a musician, and do things that excite me.”


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