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Mickey’s on a song

If you’ve been tuning into melodies from ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Kotha Bangaru Lokam’, here’s introducing you to the man behind the music, Mickey J. Meyer. SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO reports

Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

Resounding dropout Mickey J. Meyer chose music over regular college and is glad he did so

In his mid twenties, denim-t-shirt-jacket clad Mickey J. Meyer could be just another techie or entrepreneur. The man is a self-confessed resounding college dropout who is happier composing than taking over family business. His biggest claim to fame: Arere Arere, the number from Happy Days that people still cannot get enough of. He then followed it up with another winner of an album, Kotha Bangaru Lokam. Mickey’s roster has films in Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Hindi. The composer of the moment, overlooking the construction of his own recording studio in Banjara Hills, confesses, “I took to music as a child. But it was A.R. Rahman who inspired me in a big way to become a composer.”

Like Rahman, Mickey studied music and graduated from Trinity College of Music, London and vouches for a sound foundation in Indian classical and western music. He enrolled for the eight year course when he was in school. “I used to fiddle with the keys on the Casio as a child. A friend of my dad felt I was good for my age and urged my parents to let me learn music. My dad and mom were into business but had a keen ear for music. That’s where my interests stemmed from,” he recalls.

Encouraged at home, he played songs of Mohd. Rafi and Talat Mahmood on the keyboard, regaled one and all at family gatherings and gave ghazal performances on All India Radio.

When most of his classmates juggled studies with a good dose of play and hobbies, Mickey learnt western classical music in Standard V. “I used to attend piano classes before heading to school and follow it up with bhajan and ghazal sessions in the evening. I am glad I stuck to it and finished the eight year course. I’ve seen a lot of students drop out midway. Learning western classical can get boring at times. There’s quite a bit of theory and you need to play compositions of Beethoven and Mozart,” he says.

Back then, neither Mickey nor his parents dreamt that he would choose music for a career. “I helped dad with business for about a year while doing Intermediate at St. Marys. And I discovered I was neither cut out for business nor for studies. I dropped out of college.”

Meanwhile, the phenomenon called Rahman had changed the way people listened to music. “We didn’t speak Telugu at home and I didn’t grow up listening to regional film music. A friend of mine gave me Rahman’s album, Gentleman. I was blown by the astute use of western beats. Since then, I waited for every new album of Rahman. He, Ilayaraja and Yuvan Shankar Raja are backed by a foundation in Indian and western classical. Rahman’s knowledge in world music is reflected in his compositions for Bombay Dreams and Lord of the Rings,” explains Mickey.

Mickey composed for private albums and Manish Gupta’s English Film American Fish in Indian Waters. The first brush with Telugu films came with Tammareddy Bharadwaja’s Pothe Poni. “That was an experimental film. Though it wasn’t a hit, my tunes were recognised. I composed the songs but my background score didn’t quite strike a chord with the director. R.P. Patnaik took over for the background score. Perhaps my composition was new, perhaps I needed more experience… ,” he trails off.

Turning point

Tenth Class and Notebook followed before the turning point came along. “I had met Sekhar Kammula after he made Dollar Dreams and then again after Anand. He had signed Radhakrishna for Godavari as well. I got a call from his office when he was planning Happy Days. He briefed me about the film and I composed the title song that had a rock feel to it. Sekhar liked it and I was on.” With Happy Days, Mickey had secured his place in the industry. “The initial days weren’t easy for me and my parents. When you have no hit under your belt, you invite curious looks when you tell people that you are working in the film industry. I don’t need to deal with that now,” he smiles.

Songs of Hare Ram and Kotha Bangaru Lokam are among the chartbusters today. Mickey will be composing for Happy Days remakes in Hindi, Tamil (Inidhu Inidhu, produced by Prakash Raj), Kannada (as Jolly Days) apart from other projects.

“My own recording studio is coming up in Banjara Hills,” he tells us proudly. He is brushing up on his Telugu as well and says, “Music knows no language barriers.”

High five

Mickey Meyer’s personal favourites from his compositions:

* Arere Happy Days

* Happy Days rock version

* Nenani Neevani - Kotha Bangaru Lokam

* Nijanga Nenena – Kotha Bangaru Lokam

* Oh my friend Happy Days

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