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It's a Terrible Trend: Music Composer Duo Salim-Sulaiman on Recreating Old Classics in Hindi Films

Image: A file photo of music composer duo Salim and Suliaman Merchant

Image: A file photo of music composer duo Salim and Suliaman Merchant

In an interaction with, music-composer duo Salim-Sulaiman talk about their recent composition with Armaan Malik, the practice of recreating classics, music in the digital age and more.

They started their journey nearly 15 years ago and in a decade and a half they have established themselves as one of the most renowned music-composer duos, in Bollywood as well as broad. Musician brothers Salim Merchant and Sulaiman Merchant rose to fame with Bhooth (2003) and went on to compose the tunes of several popular films including Dhoom, Fanaa, and Fashion among others. They also composed for a Hollywood film Sold, collaborated with Lady Gaga and even composed a song for the FIFA World Cup in 2010. The duo recently worked on a song with Armaan Malik for Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor starrer 102 Not Out.

Talking about their experience on working with the young singer, composer Salim told, "This was the first song that we composed for the film. It was also the song that set the tone for the film. We had decided to go vintage because the characters of the film were 75 years plus. There was a dialogue in the film that said Mujhe Duniya ki har nayi cheez acchi lagti hain par music poorana accha lagta hain that dialogue was the cue for us to make music that had a vintage quality and timeless in nature. Armaan was the perfect choice as he understands the nuisances of western and Indian music beautifully and has a very fresh voice"

Though the film has a vintage touch to its music, the duo didn't follow the trend of recreating a classic number. In fact, they are quite against the idea. "It's a terrible trend. I don’t believe in it at all, it is the main reason for lack of good music in today's time," adds Sulaiman

The duo believes in creating music that raises awareness. "Music is a medium to create awareness. Not just being preachy but even music that is entertaining can create awareness if composed and produced in a modern contemporary way. Having a message always goes a long way!" says Salim.

Do they believe that musicians and singers in India are given their due? Salim remarks, "Yes, and No, good tunes and compositions are lacking these days because of a number of reasons which is mainly record company and film studio driven but the live experience for artists and musicians has opened up a new market."

Music is now no longer confined within the four walls of few gharanas, but has transcended its boundaries globally. About the digital age affecting the field of music Sulaiman notes, "It has its pros and cons. It does gain popularity very soon but at the same time, it also allows a lot of mediocrity to kick in. There is no quality control and in fact, people from the music business are giving into this mediocrity."

About the trending air of popular western genre EDM, the duo feels that it's great to use electronics that is giving a new dimension to the modern music. "It’s fantastic if it’s tastefully done!" they quip.

The musical duo is notably famous for their live performances and international gigs. On the uprising trend of international artistes picking and placing their concerts in India, Salim and Sulaiman have an optimistic view. "I think it's fantastic, great exposure for the people in India to experience these artists and also sets presidencies for artists and event companies in India to up their game," Sulaiman remarks.