Three musicians from different backgrounds and cultures, come together to form India’s best band. Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendosa have been making music together since the past twenty years, delivering hit after hit with every film. They talk to VIRAJ SAWANT about bonding together despite of the diverse cultures they come from and how it’s helped them grow.
We have a lot of young musicians growing popular abroad but not in India. How different is the music scene there?
SHANKAR: The genres of music are different, the tastes are very different and also the approach is very different. Each one is talented in their own field.When you jam with musicians who are not in the film zone, they are much more independent and free to do whatever they want to do. It’s like letting loose in an empty stadium. Here we are trying to create popular music with closed parameters – producer to please, a director to please, sometimes the stars to please.We are in a closed environment here and despite that we are creating national hits. The whole premise is very different.
EHSAAN: YouTube and all have created a lot of stars. The record companies in India should form another branch for encouraging indie music also. India had a great indie music scene at one point with Alisha Chinai, Baba Sehgal, Rabbi Shergill. They were great artists. Someone like Lucky Ali, how many records would he have sold! It’s good business also. Film business is a good business where record companies do make money. I wish they poured more money into indie musicians like they are pouring money into film music. There is a lot of talent and it’s a matter of being pointed in the right direction with an industry to support you.
How good are Bollywood directors at experimenting?
LOY: Film music is not a freeflowing medium.There are certain restrictions to it. It is like a square and you have got to work within this square. In terms of creativity, you have to find a route to it. If there is a block between point A and point B, then you have to find a different route to making it to point B.
EHSAAN: Fortunately or unfortunately, Bollywood is the biggest music selling entity. The thing is that they are backed by huge budgets. Like I said, not everybody is interested in Bollywood. People listen to what they want.
LOY: It is important to know your director and what he is capable of digesting. Some of them are much more expanded in their listening space. Some people don’t listen to all the genres. It becomes very different to write in their space. If you listen to only heavy metal you won’t understand any other genre. You will be standing there wondering what is going on if a classical song plays!
The three of you come from different religions, how do you all celebrate festivals?
EHSAAN: Eid, I carry Biryani from my place and we all cherish it. Loy, being a Christian, brings food on Christmas.We go to Shankar’s house for Ganpati and we get to eat modaks there. It’s so beautiful that we three come from these diverse backgrounds, which makes our lives rich.
LOY: We do visit Shankar’s place for Ganpati every year. Christmas is the time when everybody is usually out of the city. The whole industry is mostly on a holiday. That is mainly because of the advertising industry internationally which shuts down from mid-December to mid-January.We too follow the same pattern.
SHANKAR: When there is Ganesha festival in my house, it’s like a 10-day wedding happening at my place. If we weren’t celebrating the festival in my house, I wouldn’t be meeting three-fourths of the people who come to my house. I end up meeting around 1000 people in those 10 days! Everybody is busy in the city and it is these festivals that bring you closer and enable you to connect. Or else life just goes on and on, where you continue with your daily routine. You are earning money and getting fame but you work so you can enjoy certain aspects of life. For me, friends, family and children are very important; more important than even my music.