The deadly duo

Amrita Prasad
Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Prior to their performance at Sakal Times Summersault music festival, we speak to music director duo Vishal and Shekhar about the experience of performing live, the changing music scene in India and other things  

Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani, together, make a powerful musical duo. Most of their music compositions for films have become major hits. Salman Khan’s latest film Tiger Zinda Hai, which again had the duo’s magical touch in all its songs, received wide appreciation. From Dus Bahane to Sheila Ki Jawaani, Radha, Swag Se Swagat and so on, Vishal-Shekhar continue to enthrall us through their songs and live performances. Here’s chatting up the duo before their act at Sakal Times Summersault music festival — presented by Linen King and powered by Suzuki Intruder – in the city on April 28: 

Tell us about your upcoming performance in Pune. What is the line-up going to be like? 
Vishal and Shekhar: The performance in Pune is going to be awesome as the crowd is always fun there. We are going to make it a high energy set and all the big hits that you love and all the new ones will be played there. We are really looking forward to it.

With musical events like Sunburn, NH7 Weekender, VH1 Supersonic taking place and many international artists coming to India, do you think the music scene in India is changing? 
Vishal and Shekhar: The music scene in India is changing drastically. There are now about 70 festivals happening in India, whereas a decade ago there was none, which is incredible. A lot of global artists are coming here and performing, people are listening to music from all over the world and being exposed to a lot of quality stuff. 

How would you define your journey as musicians over the decades and what are the changes that you both have seen in the independent music space and in Bollywood? 
Vishal and Shekhar: We have been making music for a long time, but we still feel that we have just started out, we are learning every single day. That said, we have not just seen that change but have been a part of that change as well. Bollywood has always been a very inclusive medium, we don’t only get influenced by the world but also influence the world, and it is a lovely circle. 

As far as independent music versus Bollywood goes, the changes have been quite substantial and there is an overlap which was never there before. Earlier, an indie musician was an indie musician and a Bollywood musician was a only a Bollywood musician. Now, there are no restrictions — everybody is making independent music as well. So it’s a great time for the music scene. 

How have you managed to stay together for such a long time? Did you ever face creative differences? 
Vishal and Shekhar: People always want us to have differences! Why can’t they understand that when two people are working together for 20 years, they are friends first. We enjoy each other’s company and talent and have great respect for each other. Of course, we have musical differences and there are different directions in which we want the songs to go, so there is a little bit of pull and push. But whatever comes, we work towards the best of the song. 

You both have been a part of reality shows. What  role do these singing reality shows play in this YouTube age when artists can easily share their work on the platform? 
Vishal and Shekhar: The biggest role that reality shows play is that they help discover new artists, whereas on YouTube, the artist pretty much has to wait to be discovered. With reality shows, the artists are discovered immediately going to billion homes every night/ week on television and we think that is a huge advantage. The ideal thing of course is the combination of both — somebody who composed his/ her own music, has a huge following and is discovered on a reality show. Something like this has been happening now.  

Today, almost every single film that releases has a remixed song. While it is good that the younger generation is listening to or at least getting to know about yesteryear songs, it also shows the lack of creativity and originality of musicians. What is your take on this? 
Vishal and Shekhar: This whole remix thing just bores us. Those who are doing it, we just hope that it’s worth it for them and just wish that they give credit to the original writers, singers, and musicians. The fact is, it doesn’t happen, and you see songs being recreated by someone else without giving credit to the original makers. We think that is a bit of a shame. 

As musicians/ artists, what do you enjoy more — composing music or performing live? 
Vishal and Shekhar: It’s all one process —  there’s no difference between composing or performing. We do all of it and enjoy all of it. For us, the real key to performing live is the fact that you can meet your audience and feel their energy while they get to feel yours — that’s the bond that forms and grows when we perform live. 

Shekhar, your song Devi was dedicated to women. When are we going to hear similar stuff? 
Shekhar: There are some subjects that I hold close to my heart. Devi was an expression of one of them. Another is my love for my country. I have been working on an album called Maati with Swanand Kirkire which romances some of the beautiful aspects of our fascinating country and culture. It’s a unique interpretation that takes inspiration from deep rooted cultural nuances.

Vishal, you have always been vocal about the political and social scenario in our country. Why do you think it is important to take a stand on such issues?
Vishal: Every citizen should be involved, raise his/ her voice, be aware and active as a citizen. Don’t let your freedom come as a gift — it is a responsibility and we all must stand by it. We have to make sure that the freedom for which our freedom fighters fought for — from Gandhiji to Bhagat Singh and others — is a debt that we owe them. We should stand for freedom, and truth. 

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