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Top ''Shankar and I had worked together on a lot of commercials so I wanted to involve him in Dus'
Ehsaan, Shankar and Loy: mixed moorings. Photo:


Movie industry's dil chahta hai

Relating to filmwallas was difficult initially, but, says Ehsaan Noorani of the Shankar-Loy-Ehsaan music team, the tunes in Dus, Mission Kashmir and now Dil Chahta Hai and Abhay speak for themselves

It's a threesome that's getting some of the biggest films now being made. Shankar, Loy and Ehsaan have made the music for two recent blockbuster-scale films, Dil Chahta Hai and Aalavanthan (Abhay in Hindi).

Shankar Mahadevan is the southern link in this group. He had learnt Karnatak and Hindustani classical music, and was all set to become a software professional when the music industry beckoned. His album Breathless, in which he sang the verse of Javed, put him on the music video map. He is now a busy playback singer on both the northern and southern circuits.

Loy Mendonsa, a classically trained pianist, moved from Mumbai to Delhi in quest of a place he would be musically comfortable in. That city didn't hold him long. He moved back to Mumbai, started composing jingles, and became a big name in the Mumbai ad industry.

The guitarist in the group, Ehsaan Noorani, learnt some of his music in the USA. He returned after a two-year stint and turned to composing jingles. The three came together at a jingle recording session, and promptly hit it off. Thus was formed the Indian film industry's first three-member composing team.

In this interview, Ehsaan describes to The Music Magazine the team's "chaotic" way of making songs.

How did the three of you come together as a music composing team?

Mukul Anand called me up to compose a song for his magnum opus Dus. Shankar and I had worked together on a lot of commercials so I wanted to involve him in Dus and then we decided since Loy in any case would be doing all the keyboards and sequencing, he might as well be invloved too, hence the trio happened.

How did Dil Chahta Hai happen?

Farhan Akhtar had worked on Shankar's Breathless video. Javed and Shankar are good friends and hence Farhan got in touch. To compose his music he was looking for people who would be passionate, different and willing to take risks.

On a recent TV phone-in show, a viewer asked Kamala Hasan why he had risked taking you for the music of Alavanthan/Abhay. The actor was very supportive of your team and said if Balachandar hadn't given him a chance he would never have been around today. How was it working for your first couple of films? Did you feel nervous or diffident or did you always feel you knew what the industry needed?

It was exciting doing our first films. We were worried that the poeple in the film industry wouldn't relate to us or we wouldn't relate to them as our styles of working were very different. I guess our music spoke for itself and luckily we were approached by people who wanted something different, like Mukul, Vinod Chopra, Farhan and Rohan Sippy.

What is your method of working? How do you divide your work among the three of you?

We have a pretty chaotic way of working. Most of the times Shankar and I come up with the melody but sometimes Loy does as well. We then go into the studio, we do all the arranging ourselves and only use an orchestrator to do the live strings... I play guitar and keyboards, Loy plays keyboards, Shankar sings and supervises the vocals and the Indian musicians and also plays some percussion himself. Essentially it's everyone doing a little bit of everything for the song.

What is the music you like? Any south Indian influences? Whose music do you admire?

We all listen to a varied lot of music. Loy is a very good jazz pianist, so naturally his leaning is towards jazz, but he also listens to classical, film scores, techno and ambient electronica. Shankar loves classical and fusion. I love the blues and fusion and also listen to a lot of intelligent electronica and film scores. We are all into a mixed bag of music. We all love A R Rahman, and Ilaiyaraja ... respect!

Do you have any favourites among the singers in the industry?

We don't really have any favorites but we do work a lot with Mahalaxmi Iyer, Udit Narayan ... recently we worked with Sujatha on Abhay, Shreeni sang on Dil Chahta Hai... he's really good. We would like to work in the future with Chithra and SP Balasubramanyam.

Does your team have a website? And do you encourage your fans to write to you?

Well, I have been replying to a lot of mail from the Dil Chahta Hai website. Look out for We would love to hear from our fans, that's what this is all about. Look out for the music of Rohan Sippy's Kuch Na Kaho . We're looking forward to working on some more South Indian films and films in general. We're also going to be working on a trio album which will be non-film.

Published on 16 October 2001

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