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'Hi Nanna' helped me push my musical boundaries: Hesham Abdul Wahab


Composer Hesham Abdul Wahab from the Malayalam film industry recently made his Tollywood debut with 'Kushi'. Nani's 'Hi Nanna' is his upcoming release. In this interview, he talks about his approach to the soft, feel-good film starring Nani and Mrunal Thakur in the lead. The film, co-starring Baby Kiara, will hit the cinemas on December 7.

'Salt Mango Tree' in Malayalam was my first film. That was in 2015. 'Hridayam' was my 10th film. Every single film is a test for me. It is too early for me to feel I have achieved a lot. There is so much to learn, explore and discover. 'Hi Nanna' is one of the projects that helped me push my musical boundaries.

'Hi Nanna' differs from other films belonging to the genre in the way the story is narrated. All love songs induce the same sort of emotions and romantic feelings. The difference has to be brought out through the choice of singers, for example. That's one of the ways in which you do it. The song 'Ammaadi' in 'Hi Nanna' is a case in point. 'Samayama' in 'Hi Nanna' is not the same as 'Darshana' in 'Kushi'.

Director Shouryauv has made this film as a soft romance, which is why the songs are not loud. I used the instruments accordingly. The songs in 'Hi Nanna' have a calming influence. The hangover of working on 'Hi Nanna' is yet to be finished for me. I worked on the movie till last week. The director has made use of my songs in surprising ways, especially in his non-linear approach to 'charanam' and 'pallavi'. The song 'Samayama' has a peculiar format.

For a song, I used Nadaswaram because it is associated with the Indian style of wedding. The use of the instrument underlines the marital association between the lead pair. 'Odiyamma' took a lot of rumination involving me and the director. The song comes at a crucial point. We took some time to understand the underlying energy.

'Hi Nanna' is the first Indian film to make use of Artificial Intelligence for scoring. What AI does is it makes 'sampling' easy. It presents mind-blowing possibilities. AI lets the composer do layered work. Changing the instruments also comes easy with AI.

The film is way more than its music. It is going to be seen as an absolutely special film. Nani has expanded his boundaries as an actor. He deserves to be called the Natural Star.

Vyra Entertainments, the banner of 'Hi Nanna', has made it easy for all of us. They have been great to work with. I must thank the producers.

Rashmika Mandanna's 'The Girlfriend', which went on the floors today, is a new sort of genre for me. The music I have done for 'Kushi' and 'Hi Nanna' is healing in nature. I don't get emotionally attached to my tunes. Once it is out there, I leave it for the listeners how they want to embrace it. I move on to the next project. I am currently doing a film starring Sharwanand in the lead (produced by People Media Factory and directed by Sriram Adittya).

The musical soundscape will keep changing with time. Nothing is static. We have to keep on evolving. I myself have changed my style from 'Hridayam' to 'Kushi' and now 'Hi Nanna'.

I did 'Spark' recently for its producer-actor Vikranth Reddy, who is a sweet person. Although the film didn't work at the box office, it helped me assemble my music team. That helped me for 'Hi Nanna'. Some films are like practicing in the nets.

The music scene is growing in Hyderabad. The musicians here are so professional. Their knowledge is immense. Most of the composers are settled in Chennai and other cities. Hyderabad has had only a few musicians. As far as I am concerned, Hyderabad is my second home. If not in Kochi, I want to work in this city.  

Updated on December 5, 2023