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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Indian music duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant looking forward to debut concert in Dubai

Bollywood music director duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant will be taking the stage in Dubai for the first time to perform Sufi melodies and their biggest hits at the Eid Mubarak Concert.
Music director and singer Salim Merchant. Courtesy Salim Sulaiman
Music director and singer Salim Merchant. Courtesy Salim Sulaiman

The Indian music director duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant catapulted onto the world stage when they were invited to perform for 86,000 attendees of the opening ceremony of the Fifa World Cup in 2010.

The brothers, who have composed music for more than 100 Bollywood films and television shows, have been flooded with international projects ever since. The Daytime Emmy Awards nominees (Wonder Pets in 2009), who have also worked on remixing the songs Born This Way and Judas for the American pop singer Lady Gaga, recently completed two songs for the Emma Thompson-produced film Sold, a film about human trafficking in India.

The cross-genre composers will be taking a breather from studio sessions this month to perform at Womad in the United Kingdom. They’ll then make their UAE debut on July 31 with the Eid Mubarak Concert in Dubai.

The musicians will be joined by the Bollywood singer Shraddha Pandit and the Indian Idol winners Sreeram Chandra and Vipul Mehta for an evening of Sufi music and Bollywood hits.

We caught up with the brothers to talk about their music careers and their forthcoming performance.

When did you realise that you had to make a career in music?

Salim: Our father, the late Sadruddin Merchant, was a composer. We definitely knew we were going to pursue music as a career and took up further studies in music post grade 10 and 12. I studied piano grades at Trinity College of Music in London and Sulaiman trained in tabla and percussion with the Indian classical musician Taufiq Qureshi.

Why did you decide to compose together rather than pursuing separate careers?

Sulaiman: We started working together as teenagers and realised that the connection between us was very strong. Salim and I work on different aspects of a song to bring out the best in a composition. The blend of Salim and Sulaiman is what brings out the magic.

How has Bollywood music and expectations from music composers changed since you joined the industry?

Salim: There is a lot of pressure to create a hit. I think composers should go after good songs instead. We’ve always followed the mantra to make meaningful music and not tasteless “fast-food” stuff that goes stale quickly. We want to compose timeless music, even if it’s a big blockbuster like Ainvayi Lut Gaya from Band Baaja Baaraat [2010].

How did you get roped in to composing for the Hollywood film Sold?

Sulaiman: Our work was noticed by Jeffrey Brown, the director of the movie. He came to India to narrate the script to us and we knew we wanted to do this as our debut into Hollywood. The film touches on a sensitive subject – human trafficking – and they needed a couple of light moments in the film by way of melodies. We composed two songs for the film, which have been appreciated a lot.

What composition of yours remains a favourite?

Sulaiman: One song that will always be special to us is Ali Mowla in the film Kurbaan [2009]. The song was written more like a prayer and wasn’t meant for a film, but when [the producer] Karan Johar heard the song, he said it is so beautiful it needs to be heard by everyone.

What can the audience expect from your first performance in the UAE?

Salim: We know that Dubai has a great ear for music. We will be playing our big hits and some special Sufi renditions especially for Eid.

• Salim Sulaiman Eid Mubarak Concert is at Hall 2 at Dubai World Trade Centre on July 31. Tickets are priced from Dh145 and are available on ticketmaster.ae and platinumlist.net.

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aahmed@thenational.ae