Q&A: Salim and Sulaiman Merchant say ‘Namaste Abu Dhabi’

As the Bollywood composers bring their show to the capital in celebration of India’s Independence Day, they tell Aarti Jhurani about career highlights

Salim and Sulaiman – two of India’s most famous music composers, will perform at Emirates Palace on Friday as part of Namaste Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Oberoi Middle East Events.
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Later this week Abu Dhabi is in for the Bollywood treatment when India's leading music duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant bring their show to the capital. The duo, renowned the world over for their artistic compositions across Bollywood (films including Chak De! India, Fashion, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Band Baaja Baaraat and Heroine) and Hollywood, will take to the Emirates Palace stage as part of this year's Abu Dhabi Summer Season entertainment programme.

The Merchant brothers will be joined by a troupe of 20 musicians and dancers for their performance titled Namaste Abu Dhabi. They took time out of their schedule to talk to The National about their upcoming performance, which is a celebration of India's 70th Independence Day.

Salim and Sulaiman – two of India’s most famous music composers, will perform at Emirates Palace on Friday as part of Namaste Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Oberoi Middle East Events.

 What songs are you most excited to perform at Namaste Abu Dhabi?

We can't wait to sing Shukranallah, Ain Vayi and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

 You are one of the most popular music duos in Bollywood, do you ever have disagreements?

We do have differences but eventually music always wins. One thing about us is that we both play different instruments, so have more to contribute to each other rather than have differences.

It has been almost 30 years since you composed for your first film, what would you say is your biggest career-high?

There have been a lot of career-highs, including Chak De! IndiaAaja Nachle, FIFA 2010 (the anthem song), Fashion, the Lady Gaga collaboration, Rab Ne Bana Di JodiKurbaanBand Baaja Baaraat and the list continues.

How did the collaboration with Kenyan singer Eric Wainaina for the FIFA World Cup come about?

It was important for us to collaborate with two African artists, Loyiso Bala and Eric Wainaina, because they brought in the local flavour of Africa. It was truly a memorable experience performing in front of 90,000 people at the opening ceremony.

 After your successful collaborations with Lady Gaga and Enrique Iglesias, do you have any upcoming international collaborations you can share with us?

We don't really plan collaborations, they just happen. At the moment there is nothing on the cards but soon there will be.

 Are you working on any independent singles at the moment?

We are releasing a very patriotic song that released this week to acknowledge the occasion of India's 70th independence, it is called Mera Desh Hi Dharam Hai Ji.

Salim, you were one of the judges on Indian Idol, have you collaborated with any talent from the show?

Vipul Mehta, the winner of Indian Idol 2012 is part of the Abu Dhabi concert on the 18th, he and Bhoomi Trivedi are permanant singers with us. 

 Who are your favourite singers in the Indian film industry?

Sukhwinder Singh and Shreya Ghoshal. 

 What future projects can we look forward to?

We are doing the music for 102 Not Out featuring Mr [Amitabh] Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. The music will be very unique and vintage.

Namaste Abu Dhabi is presented by OME-Oberoi Middle East Events and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and takes place at Emirates Palace on Friday at 9pm (doors open at 7.30pm). Tickets start from Dh100, go to www.PlatinumList.net 


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