Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy talk to Neeti Sarkar about their 15-year journey and how a sense of balance is important in collaborations

When the trinity descended upon the city, fans went into frenzy, and understandably so. In Bangalore as a part of their four-city Seagrams 100 Pipers unplugged concert, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy or SEL (as they refer to themselves) belted out their hits from the word go. Prior to their power-packed performance, the trio got chatting with MetroPlus.

Bollywood has witnessed music composers who work as duos, split, reunite and probably split again before they hang up their boots. But the musical troika of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, have been around since 1997 and are only growing stronger as a team, making their music bigger than who they are as individuals.

Speaking of their 15-year-journey, Shankar Mahadevan says: “It has been unlike any other journey. We're already on our ultimate high. Composing our own music, performing it, getting the audience's support and making money too, is definitely a high for any musician.

While Shankar is adept at Hindustani classical and Carnatic music, Ehsaan's forte has been jazz, blues and electronica, and Loy has his roots in western classical music. Yet when they come together as SEL, they break every genre boundary to create magic with their music.

According to Loy Mendonsa, “What keeps SEL in this form is that each of us brings in our separate elements not as an overdose but as much as a song allows. For any band to go places with their music, a delicate balance of simplicity and potency must be maintained.”

He adds: “Fans have a lot to do with how much bigger a band can get so while we make our music for people to enjoy, they encourage us to push our limits with their support.”

SEL have been roped in by the biggest directors and producers in tinsel town since their inception and Shankar feels: “Music plays a huge role in determining the success of the film. Music is a marketing tool especially for a movie and we are more of music designers than music directors.”

From “Dil Chahta Hai” and “Kal Ho Na Ho” to “Rock On” and “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, the band segues effortlessly between types of films and genres of music. “Versatility is very important as musicians. A lot of thought, planning and practice go into the execution of any track,” says Shankar.

The trio has won over 20 awards, including one National Film Award, three Filmfare Awards, three IIFA Awards among several others. Ehsaan believes: “Winning an award is definitely great especially in the initial stages of a band's career. But making music in itself is an award for any artiste.”

While they have established themselves in Bollywood music, SEL have composed music for over 50 soundtracks across four languages. “Music is a universal language and it's a blessing that Shankar who was raised in Mumbai speaks Tamil and can sing in every other language,” Ehsaan says.

Two is company, three's a crowd and while Shankar says he loves a crowd, Ehsaan quips: “Threesomes are awesome!” Up ahead, there are a host of projects they are working on including Kamal Hassan's “Vishwaswaroopam” and a Nikhil Advani film.