Hit-making Bollywood music duo aim for arena-size concert here

Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani (right) compose, write and sing their own songs.
Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani (right) compose, write and sing their own songs.PHOTOS: VISHAL & SHEKHAR

Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani believe that for people to like their music, they have to first like it themselves

For people who do not follow Bollywood music, their knowledge of the field probably begins and ends with the name of A.R. Rahman, winner of the original score and original song Oscars for his work on Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

However, in the last decade, it is the duo Vishal-Shekhar who have assumed his mantle as hit-makers in Bollywood as he got busy in Hollywood and running his music conservatory in Chennai.

Vishal Dadlani, 41, and Shekhar Ravjiani, 38, are responsible for massive hit songs, including Chammak Challo (featuring rapper Akon) from the Shah Rukh Khan vehicle Ra.One (2011) and, most recently, the electronic dance tune Tu Meri, from Hrithik Roshan's Bang Bang! (2014).

The duo - who perform as Vishal-Shekhar and multitask as composers, lyricists and singers on their songs - will be back in Singapore to perform for the third time on Saturday at the Star Performing Arts Centre.

According to Dadlani, their formula for success as a hit machine that churns out one banging tune after another is simple.

  • BOOK IT / VISHAL & SHEKHAR LIVE IN SINGAPORE

  • WHERE: The Star Performing Arts Centre, 1 Vista Exchange Green

    WHEN: Saturday, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $68 to $268 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

"You have to like the music yourself for other people to like it. Until Shekhar and I are completely satisfied, the music doesn't go out," he tells Life in a telephone interview from the hallowed Yash Raj Studios, a top film studio in Mumbai.

It is indicative of their 16-year working relationship, which Dadlani, who is married and has no children, likens to "any good marriage".

"There are good and bad days. But essentially, it's based on friendship, respect and trust and an absolute certainty that you can rely on that other person."

Their movie music catalogue dates back to 1999, but it was arguably their turn as music directors for Jhankaar Beats, a 2003 drama containing the hit song Tu Aashiqui Hai, that kicked off their run of success.

They are working on music for the Salman Khan action drama, Sultan, due for release next year.

While their track Tu Meri was credited by Indian media for bringing electronic dance music to the masses in the country, the duo are constantly exploring new genres and, in fact, are working on a country-inspired track for Sultan.

"As everyone has started doing electronic dance music, we'll move on to something else," says Ravjiani, who has a young daughter. He adds that the new track is "revolutionised country". "It's something people haven't heard of before, I'm sure."

Their upcoming show in Singapore, which has sold 70 per cent of tickets, will see them dedicating an entire segment to reinterpreting some of the old film songs that they loved while growing up.

"We're going to put our stamp on them so that people can enjoy them with a whole new perspective, all without losing the soul of the original," Dadlani says.

The duo are no strangers to sampling and updating classic Bollywood songs, having reworked the 1977 Kishore Kumar track Bachna Ae Haseeno for the 2008 film of the same name, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, and the 1981 Nazia Hassan pop record Disco Deewane, for the 2012 drama Student Of The Year, starring Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra.

Apart from that movie segment, the rest of their concert is not cast in stone.

The duo say they over-prepare the setlists for their shows and perform songs as guided by the energy of the crowd.

"Many times, we end up performing only half of what we've prepared," Dadlani adds.

He and Ravjiani will be joined on stage in the Singapore show by playback singers Neeti Mohan and Shalmali Kholgade.

"If you put four people who love being on stage together, madness is bound to occur," he says.

Ravjiani seems to concur, saying he is bent on recreating the atmosphere of a large stadium at the 5,000-capacity Star Performing Arts Centre.

At their concerts, he is particularly fond of performing the sweeping love ballad Khuda Jaane from the 2008 romantic comedy Bachna Ae Haseeno.

"When we do our college shows and play to 50,000 to 60,000 students, you have to see the way they sing it - it's unbelievable live."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'Bollywood's hit-makers'. Print Edition | Subscribe