In an interaction with journalism students at Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), Mumbai, the music composer duo Salim-Sulaiman talk about their love for patriotic songs, the trend of Punjabi-Hindi remix, the reality of award functions, their experience with Khayyam Saab and more.
Patriotism is a feeling and everyone has a way to express it. Some people express their love for the nation through speeches while the ace music director duo Salim-Sulaiman chooses music to show their love for the country.
“We are Indian. A composer has one way of expressing his patriotism and i.e. through his music. I believe that we can bring about a change in people. It’s a way of expression.
There are a lot of people who go out there and make a speech about how they love their country. We have a beautiful avenue called music through which show our devotion to our nation,” said Sulaiman Merchant.
“There are 1.3 billion people in our country. Whether it is Eid, Diwali, Baisakhi, Christmas, or Holi, we celebrate every festival in the most incredible way. Tell me another country like India. Can you tell me? So many different people! and many different states! So many different languages!
I would make the rest of my life dedicating songs to our country. Chak De was one of the films because we were working on a sports subject. Mera desh hi dharam was a dedication to the soldiers and the armed forces. They all know that they are Indian,” Salim Merchant added.
Chumma Chumma de de, Chak de, Chak de India…
“Working on Chak-de was not easy. The director wanted a patriotic song which is not only a sports song. We prepared a lot of songs but nothing was working in our favor. He rejected a lot of our compositions.
We were dedicated to working on the song and finally called the producer who said, “I want something like, Chumma chumma dede! Chak de, chak de India. Now when you will listen to the song, you will feel the similarity between the compositions,” Salim Merchant tells the students the story behind the composition of the epic song Chak de India.
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Not sure of National awards’ credibility-Salim
“First of all, let me tell you the actual truth that was happening. A lot of these awards are not even going to be on. For instance, What are they? They are basically television shows. Who’s watching T.V. now? Very few people. A lot of people are watching digital content.
A lot of channels like Sony, Star, Colors, are not commissioning awards anymore. How’s that? So, all this is now going to die. Awards are given on the basis of the availability of the artists.
If you are not in town, you won’t get one. But there are certain awards in certain countries that do hold. I don’t even know about National awards because I have heard weird things,” Salim said on being asked upon the relation between awards and talent.
“Earlier, awards used to be a barometer for your success. It’s now YouTube hits. It’s not Awards anymore!” Sulaiman added.
Punjabi-Hindi Remix taken from Indian history
On being asked upon the latest trend of Punjabi-Hindi remix, the duo replied in an uncanny way. While Sulaiman highlighted the trend which is going on, Salim connected the entire thing to Indian history.
“Because we have a lot of Punjabi producers and they love Punjabi music. Also, it is a unique flavor of beautiful language and the infusion of English with Punjabi and a little bit of Hindi is fun. Change is good but what’s happening now is a trend. It will come and it will fade out,” said Sulaiman.
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“I have another twist to this. When we as a nation was part of the Indus valley civilization where these regions of Punjab and Sindh had a lot of poetry and culture along with the Mughal influence.
Punjabi is a dialect of Urdu and it has some other influence of Farsi and Pashto. So, that region has a lot of cultural influence. There is a lot of filth right now but there is a lot of amazing stuff as well which we don’t listen, unfortunately. If you really dig into it, you will know there is a lot of richness there. ” Salim further added.
Working experience with Late Mohammed Zahur Khayyam
While talking about the legendary Khayyam Saab, Salim said, “When we were growing up as kids or as musicians, Umrao Jaan was one of the first albums of Hindi film music which influenced us.
I remember, when I first heard the album, I was instantly attracted to it. My first influence of film music was through Khayyam Saab music. So, he meant a lot to me. When I met him, I told him this and he was so overjoyed. There was so much to talk about.
He spoke about Umrao Jaan, Kabhie Kabhie, Trishul, and all his films. He also spoke about his relationship with Lata Ji and Asha Ji. We were very delighted to have him on the premiere and speak a few things about Umraao Jaan and a few things about music.
The ace music director duo, Salim-Sulaiman have just released their musical Umrao Jaan Ada. They also talked about the journey of finding the right person for the role.
We had our eyes on Pratibha for Umrao Jaan
“I will be honest with you. When we decided to make Umrao Jaan Ada, I had my eyes on Pratibha. She is a fantastic singer. She understands Ghazals which was a big genre we were dwelling into since all the songs have that Ghazal touch to it. When we had decided to make Umrao Jaan Ada, I had decided it’s going to be Pratibha.
So, we did still had the audition process and we went through it. I knew that Pratibha has to pull up her songs when it comes to acting and dancing. It’s a Musical and my eyes were on Pratibha only. I knew I had found my Umrao Jaan,” Salim said.
‘The process wasn’t about auditioning. The process was about the grooming a singer to become a singer, a dancer, and an actress to be able to emote dialogues. That was the challenge and not finding the girl. It was finding her and making her what we wanted her to be,” Sulaiman added.