Aspiring guitarists often start by trying their hand at playing covers, typically picking classics from bands like Eagles or Beatles. Dhruv Ghanekar, a guitarist, composer, singer-songwriter, and producer, cautions against falling into this trap. Unlike many musicians, Dhruv confesses to never engaging in covers, always striving to create original music. During a Zoom video call, Dhruv provides a view of his room adorned with an array of guitars, showcasing his passion for the instrument.
Speaking to The Hindu MetroPlus from Mumbai, Dhruv expresses his enthusiasm for Mumbai Star – The Musical, enjoying a full-house run in Japan and the album, set to release on November 29 under his label Wah Wah Records.
The musical is a Bollywood-style song and dance show directed by Nadir Khan and produced by Japan-based Minon Concert Association and Dragon Rose Production (India). Dhruv and his wife, model-singer Ishitta Arun, contributed to the lyrics and produced the musical. Says Dhruv, ”The musical has successfully captivated audiences in nearly 20 cities across Japan, embarking on a tour with occasional double shows daily, all sold out. The overwhelming response reflects a profound curiosity for Indian culture, making it the prevailing global flavour of the decade.” According to Dhruv, it’s India’s time to shine on the international stage.
The Mumbai Star album boasts a rich compilation of 19 tracks, comprising eight songs and 11 instrumental pieces. The diverse musical journey includes dance anthems, romantic ballads, Kathak-influenced dance pieces, and rap/hip-hop tracks inspired by Mumbai’s unique style. Renowned artistes such as Sunidhi Chauhan, Nakash Aziz, Kunal Ganjawala, and emerging indie talents contribute to the artist lineup.
Devika Punjabi, a theatre actor and producer, conceptualised the Mumbai Star idea and was commissioned by Minon Concert Organisation to bring it to life. Dhruv shares that the play takes the form of theatrical verse, presenting a unique challenge in creating music without visual cues, relying solely on situational ideas. The project commenced in January, and as the piece evolved, Dhruv collaborated with friends and long time associates to craft a compelling musical narrative.
The storyline unfolds through the journey of a young boy from a small town who arrives in Mumbai with dreams of stardom. As he achieves success and fame, he forgets his roots and mentors. His transformation thus becomes a central theme. The track titles such as ‘Dhol Bhajare,’ ‘Mumbai Nagariya,’ ‘Kai re Kai,’ ‘Hey You,’ ‘Khoya khoya,’ ‘Rise to Fame,’ ‘Downfall,’ and ‘Khoya’ (reprise) succinctly capture the essence of the narrative.
All in order
Dhruv adopted a sequential approach in creating the songs, emphasising the importance of maintaining the story’s continuity. Unlike the sporadic process in movie projects, where songs may be created out of sequence, he aimed to establish a cohesive tonality by composing each piece in alignment with the unfolding narrative. The result is a musical journey that not only entertains but also narrates a compelling story of ambition, success, and the transformative impact of fame.
As a child, Dhruv’s music aspirations were set off after watching AC/DC’s lead guitarist Angus Young, dressed in a school uniform, performing at a Grammy Awards show telecast on Doordarshan. “ I watched this guy and thought, ‘my gosh, this guy is a school kid, and he’s playing at the Grammys. So, you know, maybe, I can play at the Grammys. That was the seed of that silly, childish thought which started the journey for me,” laughs Dhruv, adding he started playing the guitar and became obsessed with it. The initial challenges, such as the conditioning period for his fingers, did not deter him. His dedication was evident as he practised for long hours during his teenage years. “When you are 16 or 17, you have all the time in the world, so I would practice for 8 to 12 hours. My parents saw that I was quite serious about this. When I was 12 -13, I had earned some money singing for albums, commercials, and a few films; my mom saved that money and gave it to me to buy my first guitar. I haven’t looked back since.”
Dhruv’s musical career took a significant turn when he teamed up with composer Ashutosh Pathak. Together, they ventured into producing and creating successful commercials and eventually made their mark in Bollywood. Some notable projects include Bombay Boys, Drona, and the recent Dhaakad.
Mumbai Star is the second original release from Wah Wah Records and will be available worldwide on all streaming platforms starting November 29, 2023. Dhruv mentions the talks are on for the musical to tour the Far East and other parts of the world, and he hopes it can come to India soon.