Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru speak about their inspiration, Salman Khan, and more

Musical duo Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru have had a one-of-a-kind journey in the Indian music industry. Known for directing and producing songs and videos with legends such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle and Jagjit Singh, their illustrious career also involves introducing new artistes to music. For the last two decades, their songs like Kinna Sohna, Gud Nalon Ishq Mitha and Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lagi to Kaliyon Ka Chaman and Mast Mast Do Nain, have been topping the charts. Their recent directorial venture Vaaste, starring Dhvani Bhanushali, has got more than one billion views (till the time of going to the press). In an interview, Radhika and Vinay tell us about their musical journey, working with other artistes and their upcoming musical film with Bhushan Kumar. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about your musical film with Bhushan Kumar and T-Series.

With due regards to peoples’ troubles and the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has been good for us. We started our work in July and it has been a great musical journey since then. We had Teri Aankhon Mein, Besharam Bewafa and other songs, all of them crossing millions of views. Since Bhushan ji and we have had a great relationship, we thought of doing a musical feature film together. It’s a coming-of-age story with an ensemble cast. We will shoot it during summer and hopefully, it will be released by November. We are looking forward to carrying our musical successes ahead. 

You’ve directed the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Jagjit Singh to Arijit Singh, Neha Kakkar in music videos. How different is it now, as compared to these veteran singers?

The singers are the same and that’s always been the thing about the music community. The way they immerse into their songs, the way they submerge into the lyrics, the way they write is all very infectious. So, yes, that’s all the same. The only thing that's different is that the older musicians used to work in the day and the newer lot work in the night. We both are set according to the older clock.

What’s your approach when you make music videos?

We have a storytelling format and that’s how we formulate our videos. For us, they are like mini-movies, each comprising a beginning, middle and an end. Within five minutes we show how the hero-heroine had met, had fallen in love, and it ended etc. While a movie is like a two-hour extravaganza, it is rather difficult to tell a story in a lesser time. 

What are the stronger points in both of you separately that aid in your camaraderie?

Our camaraderie is not one that can be defined. When two people come together, the relationship becomes organic in terms of being co-creators. It happened like that between us also. We both like the stories we tell. Radhika is an ‘original genius’ and I don’t interfere with that. Her ideas have never been seen before. The story is hers and I am better with the screenplay. Radhika creates innocence in our world of fairytales and my work is to make it more punchy and structured. We are both required together to make a good cinema.

Is there anyone whom you look up to for inspiration?

We have worked with Jatin-Lalit, Sajid-Wajid, etc. They all have camaraderie and work as per a definite structure. There’s nothing specific that I could learn from them as everyone has their individual partnerships. We both don’t follow any ‘inspiration’. Yes, Salman Khan has been our mentor, and when you work with a superstar like him, in your early days, that person tends to guide your thought process. He also liked our approach to storytelling and at the inception level, he was someone who inspired us. Since then, it has been our journey.

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