MUSICAL MUSKETEERS
Just URBANE|June - July 2021
From completing each other’s sentences, to continuing with the same thought process, Shankar-Ehasaan-Loy’s camaraderie is something that you just cannot miss. Even after 25 years of making music together, the trio is not done belting out hits
SAMREEN KHOJA

PASSION CAN MAKE PEOPLE do unexpected things, and when that passion is music, we can’t have a more iconic trio than Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy or SEL as they are called. Bollywood has had amazing musical duos, be it LaxmikantPyarelal, Jatin-Lalit, Kalyanji-Anandji, Salim-Sulaiman among others, but in a sea of jodis, this trio has stood out. “We all came together as an experiment for a movie called Dus in 1997 by Mukul Anand and we did not know what the future would hold. We almost didn’t become a part of the industry because the movie never got made as Mukul Anand passed away. After his demise, we gave up and thought that this is not meant to happen, but work started coming in. We worked on Mission Kashmir and then Shankar released Breathless, we also released a couple of albums, which worked in our favor and before we could know, it was a career. It was never intended for us to be a trio, it just happened. Even today, we perform like a band,” says Ehsaan Noorani.

GAME-CHANGING SYMPHONIES

Despite having hits like Mission Kashmir or ‘UP Bihar Lootne’ from Shool (Yes, the same one where people threw money at screens every time the song appeared) it wasn’t an easy ride for SEL in the industry. “The major turning point for us was 20 years ago when Dil Chahta Hain came out and the music topped the charts. But even after that, the music industry did not trust us. This was because we are people who are a part of the industry, but not hardcore there, we don’t attend every single event, party, award function and you will seldom see us on page 3, so everyone wondered who these three are, and they probably had beginner’s luck. When the music of Dil Chahta Hain came out, prominent personalities and record labels said that it sounded like jingles. Our job was to come out with songs that were unheard of and that is what we did. They expected us to do something monotonous, so, to get acceptance took a long while,” explains Shankar Mahadevan.

“We did not get work for almost a year after Dil Chahta Hain. We did a film called Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hain, directed by Hansal Mehta, which tanked at the box office. But then came Kal Ho Na Ho and we were flooded with projects. We even won a National Award,” says Ehsaan.

In a world where creative partnerships are mostly fraught with egos, these three composers have been going strong for more than 25 years. And by their own admission, they do not even have a contract between them. “I think this was something that came for our parent’s generation where everything was done just on the basis of a handshake. When we started our career, it was the peak of change, the whole industry was on a revamp, but prior to that, a handshake meant that you’re good to go,” exclaims Loy Mendonsa.

MUSIC IN MY SOUL

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