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Salim-Suleiman: Scoring for Kurbaan

Last updated on: November 23, 2009 14:30 IST

'With a script like Kurbaan, the music just flows'

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Nithya Ramani in Mumbai

Kurbaan's rave reviews extends to its foot-tapping soundtrack as well. The brother duo Salim-Suleiman, who have belted out hits like Shukran allah and Ali maula, have scored earlier in films like Dor, No Entry and Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya.

Nithya Ramani caught up with the composers and quizzed them on their Kurbaan tunes.

Kurbaan's songs have a Sufi touch.

Salim: Karan wanted the songs to have a Sufi touch.

We were working on Koochi Koochi Hota Hai [an animated film, based on Kuch Kuch Hota Hai] when Karan came to us with the script of Kurbaan. Though it is mainly a background score, we have composed songs too.

Suleiman: The story floored us -- it was thrilling and most importantly, it had Saif [Ali Khan] and Kareena [Kapoor].

Salim: With a script like Kurbaan, the music just flows. For example, Shukran Allah is a song where Saif's character is thanking God for giving him the love of this life, Avantika [Kareena]. In the song he is saying, 'thank you Allah, and all the praise in this world is for you'. It is a beautiful prayer which we decided to turn into a love song, and I think this touch made this song a little different.


Image: A scene from Kurbaan

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'Karan had a few issues initially but he was very appreciative'

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Tell us about your music sittings with Karan and director Rensil D'Silva.

Suleiman: Karan has a great sense of music. His way of identifying with a song for a particular scene and reasons why he likes or dislikes a particular song, is immaculate. He lists what he wants in detail. It's great to work with someone who knows his stuff. And he will never reject anything outright. He will say, 'this is nice but for this context we need something else' or 'this is nice but there can be some minute changes'.

Rensil would be sitting right there and if you ask him he will say he loves the song. 

Ali Maula is another chanting kind of song, very Sufi-like sung by Salim. It's probably his first song. When we composed the song, we didn't know if it would fit into any film. We played it to Karan and Rensil, and they thought it was perfect for Kurbaan.

Salim: Rensil was very open. He has a fair idea of music -- he knows what goes with his story. He gave us freedom and that motivated us. He liked everything we offered him. Karan had a few issues initially but he was very appreciative.

Suleiman: Every film has its own story -- with different vibes and colours. Those translate to music and that has always worked when we do something based on a script. It just flows. Even if it's the same kind of film or genre, it is written by different people and that gives us the creativity to create different songs, melodies and grooves.


Image: A scene from Kurbaan

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'We eat and breathe music'

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What's on your I-Pod?

Salim: We listen to all kinds of music -- be it Sting's or Michael Jackson's. We love Indian classical songs and ghazals too. In terms of composition, I think Yeh Hosla from Dor is very close to our hearts. It has a lot of soul to it.

Ali Maula has a very special feeling to it. There have been many more like Chak De, Maula Mere, Ore Piya, Aaja Nachle and Aashayein from Iqbal.

Suleiman: Music has always been a passion. We eat and breathe music. We listen to different songs on the radio and save thousands of songs on our I-pods.

Salim: I really like Chup Ke Se from Saathiya, composed by A R Rahman. It's my all-time favourite. I also love the Bombay numbers, Kehana Hi Kya and Tu Hi Re. We love Rahmansaab's work.

Suleiman: His Vande Matram is one of the most powerful songs I've heard. I get goose bumps every time I listen to it.

Salim: Apart from Rahman, we also love Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's compositions. I loved Shankar's Maa from Taare Zameen Par. His Rock On!! was a great album. We look up to composers like John Williams, James Newton Harvard and John Powell. Maybe one day we will compose like them.


Image: A scene from Kurbaan

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'We never sat and discussed the songs with Saif or anyone else'

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Have you ever had a clash of ideas?

Salim: After working with each other for almost 20 years, we have come to know each other's strengths and weaknesses. We have a mutual way of doing things. Both of us put in ideas which are mostly triggered from lyrics or tunes or something that is given to us. 

Filmmakers know we put in something special in our work. We might deviate from the script but they will at least listen to us once.

Suleiman: Every song we create is special and even if it is bad, it is still our baby.

Did Saif offer any musical inputs?

Suleiman: No. It was more Karan, Rensil and us. Niranjan [who wrote the songs] would always sit and discuss the music. We never discussed it with Saif or anyone else. It gets confusing if you get inputs from many people.


Image: A scene from Kurbaan

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'We needed some kind of maturity while composing for the love-making song'

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How do you make songs?

Salim: We work through the day and night. You can't fix a set time to compose. This is not a hobby or just a profession. This is something that is given to us by God. When we get an idea, we go with it whether it hits us at 11am, midnight or 3 am.

When we were working on Shukran Allah, I felt a strong connection with Allah. It became like a chant; like I was in touch with Him.

Suleiman: Then came Rasiya -- a song picturised on the love-making scene. It is a passionate love-making scene between a married couple and so we needed to have some kind of maturity in the song because a married couple will have a sense of comfort. It can't be too sensuous though it needed to have a sensual touch to it.

Do you think the way songs are being composed has changed?

Suleiman: The whole phase of running around trees and cutting to the Swiss Alps is fading because the kind of films we make these days are more sensible, less filmi. It is great that people are enjoying different kinds of songs because it helps us create different kinds of compositions in different formats.

What next?

Salim: Rocket Singh. This is the first time we're composing for a film that is based on a salesman. It was a challenge and we learnt a lot.


Image: A scene from Kurbaan

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