The twirl of the lehenga, the flying feet and the incandescent smile lighting up the dance floor — when the promo song ‘Boom Padi’ featuring Madhuri Dixit performing garba in the film Maja Ma was released, it was met with instant approval. The song from the soon-to-be-released OTT film has already become the most-played dance number at this season’s garba and dandiya events across the country; the composers of the song, cousins Siddharth Mahadevan and Souumil Shringarpure, could not have been happier.
“We were super excited when we first heard that ‘Boom Padi’ would be picturised on Madhuri Dixit, a living legend of our industry. But, with that heightened excitement came some pressure as well,” say the composer duo, talking to us from Mumbai.
The fact that the song was to be Madhuri’s first garba dance track added to the anticipation. Says Siddharth, “We wanted to put in extra effort into composing the track. We wanted to keep it groovy and upbeat with rhythmic patterns in keeping with the core traditional garba flavour; so we could do justice to the song and the eventual choreography.”
Siddharth and Souumil don’t speak Gujarati but having grown up in Mumbai, drew inspiration from attending garba events during Navratri to visualise the picturisation. “Those memories and experiences laid the groundwork for what we eventually composed with ‘Boom Padi’. Priya Saraiya, the award-winning lyricist, being a Gujarati, was able to lend more context with authentic lyrics and gave us further opportunity to immerse ourselves in the project so we did complete justice to its originality,” says Siddharth.
While the brief was to make an authentic Gujarati festival song, director Anand Tiwari was open to the idea of recreating a traditional Gujarati folk number. However, Siddharth and Souumil were keen to come up with something fresh and original. To keep it authentic, they used live instruments, for both the melodic and rhythmic portions. “We wanted it to sound like a live ensemble playing at a garba event while also being fit for a picturised segment in a movie. We wanted to steer clear of any electronic or digital sound,” says Siddharth.
In their decade-long music career together, Siddharth and Souumil have often brought two different universes of music — traditional folk and contemporary – together, challenges notwithstanding. They admit that one needs to be mindful of the melody, instruments being used, lyrics, and eventual voices on the track. “Fusion for the sake of fusion defeats the purpose. Then it just becomes experimental. We would rather put in the hard yards and create something that most audiences can relate to. It is a fine balancing act but as modern musicians, building such compositions probably comes slightly easier to us as we’ve been exposed to both these worlds and continue to draw inspiration from each every day,” they say.
Siddharth and Souumil are first cousins and have been jamming and creating music together since their childhood. While Souumil trained in piano, Siddharth trained in vocals and while growing up, Siddharth played the percussion and Souumil would play the keyboard. They first composed music for a Marathi film and 12 years later, their repertoire expanded to jingles and live shows as well. Siddharth says, “Dad (Shankar Mahadevan) gets the finer nuances of musicality at a level that most people may not. He has always encouraged us to steer clear of imitation and find an individual style that is unique to us. His feedback and inputs may be critical at times, but it’s all coming from a place of experience and deep knowledge that is invaluable and will only aid our growth.” Souumil adds, “Shankar kaka has always pushed us to explore new horizons and boundaries beyond our comfort zone. Our biggest learning from him has been to say yes to everything and to believe in our ability to make the impossible happen.”
Souumil has acted as a lead in two Marathi films but for now, he says, his focus is on creating music that their audiences enjoy. “We started small with ad jingles while I simultaneously started performing live at Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy concerts. That early exposure, being surrounded by music and musical influences laid the foundation. So, while it was not a planned move to become a professional composer early on, that subconscious love for all things music just kept growing within.”
The duo consider Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy their biggest role models and show an uncanny maturity in deciding their individual paths in future. “We’ve seen how they’ve flourished and built legacies as a collective and as independent artists over the years. While we love working together and there’s a lot of incredible work to be done on this evolving journey, exploring independent opportunities is something we may consider. There’s so much to learn, explore, experiment and create.... whether we do it together or independently, we know we’ll always have each other’s backs,” they affirm.