Musical musketeers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy on their digital debut

The composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, or SEL as they are popularly called as, have always wanted variety in their projects.

With a film discography that starts from 1997 and continues till date, this variety has been their focus. More so because the tunes are not coming from one source, but from three differently-strung minds.

With Bandish Bandits, created by Amritpal Singh Bindra and directed by Anand Tiwari, they believe that their canvas just got larger. In this romantic musical drama, the groovy beats of ‘Chedkhaniyaan’ co-exists with the meditative ‘Viraah’. “Whether it’s a jingle or a film, the process is the same,” says Shankar Mahadevan, over a Zoom call from Mumbai, “But, the canvas with a web-series is bigger, longer and much more detailed. When you compose something for the first episode, you need to keep in mind what’s going to happen in the eighth episode. It’s like doing three feature films at a stretch.”

But it is something they enjoyed doing, going by what his musical partner-in-crime, Loy Mendonsa, has to say. Especially because the subject was musical: Bandish Bandits revolves around the stories behind a classical musician and a pop star. “Each of the songs is a part of the narrative. Music is its core subject, so it also has a stronger force to it,” says Mendonsa.

Musical musketeers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy on their digital debut

Working on the 11 tracks and the background score was a process of joining the dots, according to him. “The dots are further away, unlike a film. The challenge was to make sure everything sits correctly and balances out. Apart from the songs, there were also various other bits of music that we created since the lead characters play musicians themselves.”

That is perhaps why the trio is over the top about this digital tryst. “Very rarely does a composer get a project like this, in which you are able to explore so many genres,” adds Shankar, “The music of Bandish Bandits is pretty much a representation of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.”

The choice of singers also adds to the variety they are looking for. Bandish Bandits is an album that gets its classical flavours from Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty and a carefree spirit from Armaan Malik. There is also ‘singer’ Shankar Mahadevan, used extensively in the album. Ask him about that, and Shankar says, “I run away from singing my own compositions, before they force me to.” Loy adds, “A lot of good singers walk in to hear the track that he [Mahadevan] has sung, and actually take notes to understand the ‘feel’ he brings to it. There’s a certain personal feel that comes out when you sing your composition, and that’s hard to emulate.”

They have had a South connect as well, having worked on Kamal Haasan-starrers Aalavandhan and Viswaroopam, and are keen to expand on that. “Give us an interesting project and we’ll do it,” says Shankar, “In fact, we have been asking even our friend, Nila Madhab Panda, who is a filmmaker from Orissa, to come up with some interesting subjects. Ours is a land with so much music and cultures; we should not restrict it to Hindi music.”

Musical musketeers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy on their digital debut

As a singer, he has not. Shankar has contributed to the success of Tamil songs like ‘Sandhana Thendralae’ (Kandukondein Kandukondein), ‘Thaniye’ (Rhythm) and ‘Uppu Karuvaadu’ (Mudhalvan). Parallely, he has achieved a lot of success in Bollywood, having composed the tunes of big films like Dil Chahta Hai, My Name is Khan, Lakshya and Raazi. On the recent controversy about Rahman stating that there was a ‘gang’ working against him in Bollywood, Shankar says, “AR Rahman is our brother, and after achieving so much, if he is speaking something out to the media, I’m sure there should be some reason and truth to it.”

Bandish Bandits, an Amazon Original Series, will stream on Amazon Prime from August 4

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 3:25:46 PM |

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