Rishi Rich is a name synonymous with the rise of the urban desi music movement in Europe and North America. Known for his Bhangra tracks and Hindi remixes, Rich is a British-Indian music producer. He started his career in the Asian Underground scene pioneering Asian R&B fusion music and today his music is known worldwide.
His latest composition is sung by Ranveer Singh for the recently released movie “Gully Boy” and is making waves in the Bollywood music scene. We caught up with him for his journey from start to now.
DissDash: First of all congratulations! “Gully Boy” is doing great!
Rishi Rich: Yes, I went to see it again last night, it’s doing really well here.
DissDash: How has your journey been so far?
Rich: I think one of the highlights of my journey was when I moved to Atlanta and I left Teddy Riley and I kind of took a backseat; in the sense where I just wanted to come and learn about music again. It was around the same time that I got married. And then coming back to London and then having this opportunity to come to India—I’ve always wanted to live in India and work in India. I figured that being a producer you can work from anywhere, so the journey about coming to India wasn’t necessarily only about the film. I just wanted to explore what was going on here with the independent scene.
DissDash: How is the work atmosphere there different culturally?
Rich: I think for me it’s always going to be the same because I have a great management team here. But if you just think about how many films are made in a month in India, you know like what’s going on. People here are just hustling, no matter if you are a singer or composer or producer. They are just working and working. I mean, one may be a famous music producer but you can still call him at two in the morning and they will come up to the studio if you needed them.
DissDash: Speaking of “Gully Boy,” how did this project come to you?
Rich: Ankur Tewari who is the music supervisor for “Gully Boy” told me about this project about three years ago. It was kind of loosely based on Divine, Nazey and Asian hip hop and I was like, I need to be a part this like I didn’t know how, but I just had to be a part of it. So luckily, Ankur became the music supervisor for the film and he came down to meet me and told telling me everything. That the movie was a fusion between hip hop and what’s going on in India. And that’s what I do. That’s my thing. So I submitted at least about 20 beats and Zoya loved it.
I met Zoya, and she was like, ‘Okay we’re gonna get Javed Akhtar Sab to write the lyrics.’ Then we went down to meet Divine and Ranveer and then we recorded it.
DissDash: What are your thoughts on this whole movement in India with the whole underground hip-hop scene.
Rich: I think that was the main reason for me to come to India, to actually see what’s going on here. It kind of reminds me of how hip hop movement jammed in America and the scene just exploded. I think that’s what’s happening here.
DissDash: What do you think when people say, ‘well hip-hop or rapping is more of an African-American thing, and it’s just weird for Indian people to do it.’
Rich: Well I just think that rapping is like poetry. How crazy is it that Javed Akhtar Sab is writing the lines for Divine. So I just think that whether you sing or you rap, the talent here is crazy. I think the collaboration between Divine and Nas, getting involved with the film, kind of shows you that people are really looking at what’s going on.
DissDash: Right now there is a big gap between everything being Bollywood and everything outside of Bollywood which is considered independent. Will this movie succeed in giving more attention to the independent scene?
Rich: Yes, definitely. I think this film has kind of taken the whole independent scene and just put them in the bigger picture.
DissDash: How was your experience working with Ranveer?
Rich: Working with Ranveer was amazing. Exactly how you see him is how he is. As soon as he came into the studio he would start rapping. He was in character and I think I actually read an interview that Ranveer stayed in character as a rapper for a few months before shooting for the film. It was amazing and the fact that he has got
DissDash: You really like are here like with the bang right now like this is your time.
Rich: Yeah! I mean it’s been so crazy. For the last two years, I’ve been working on “Gully Boy”; I worked with Diljeet and am working with Sunny Deol for “Pal Pal Dil Ke Pass”. And in one day everything just came out, everything released around the same time. I just think that it’s kind of God’s way of saying you know what, I’m just going to give you everything in one day.