The musical duos Meet Bros have enjoyed a pathbreaking career in Bollywood. Harmeet Singh and Manmeet Singh made their foray into playback music with the 2010 film Isi Life Mein. Then they went on to compose memorable songs for films like Do Dooni Chaar, Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum, OMG – Oh My God!, Bhoothnath Returns to name a few. Meet Bros are also known for giving out two consecutive sensational songs Baby Doll from Ragini MMS 2 and Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan from Roy.
So far, the year 2023 has proved to be quite bountiful
for Manmeet and Harmeet as they were trending on the charts with their music for Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani’s SatyaPrem Ki Katha. Besides this, Meet Bros collaborated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the viral Navratri song Maadi Maadi, penned by him. In an exclusive interview with News18 Showsha, Meet Bros recalled what it meant for them to work with PM Modi.
Here are the excerpts:
It’s not every day that the music composers of this country get to collaborate with the Prime Minister Of India. How did this opportunity come to you and how did you react to it?
Harmeet: So the opportunity came through an agency called Collective. They reached out to us saying that PMO reached out to them and they wanted us to compose a song. We did Gujarati style music in SatyaPrem Ki Katha with Kiara and Kartik, maybe they heard it. Because it was very surprising reaching out to Punjabi boys for an authentic Garba. And we were very pleased and very happy with the trust and belief in talent and not just caste, creed. It made us realise that the PMO works in a very fair manner. They just told us that if only we could compose in four hours, since it was close to Navaratri. They told us if we can’t crack it in four hours, we won’t do it. We love these challenges so we took it up and within one and half hours we composed, we got it ready and sent it across in three hours and it got approved in the night. It reminded us of ‘Party Toh Banti Hai’ for Bhootnath, which came to us when the sets were ready and Mr Amitabh Bachchan was waiting to shoot. We recorded that entire song in four hours.
Manmeet: I think it is the most surreal moment because it doesn’t happen everyday and not to everybody that PM Modi reaches out to you, to compose a song written by the Prime Minister. At first, it was quite unbelievable and we wondered whether it would work out or not. So we honestly and sincerely went after composing a written song. It was a pure Gujarati garba that we had to compose and it’s not something that we do everyday.
How involved was PM Modi during the creation of the song? What sort of briefs and pointers did he give you in the context of how he must envisioned the song? And then when you showed him the final product, what kind of feedback did you get from him?
Harmeet: The conversation with him was more about when he literally praised us and said that he loved the song, he loved the way the song has come out and the melody. He congratulated us and told us that we did a really good job. And we told him that we were happy that he thought of us, although we are Punjabis and there were so many Gujarati composers in the country, anyone would be available in a second to create that song he had written. But he thought of us which is really amazing as it talks about his belief in pure talent and no other factor. To this, he also explained to us that there is this German girl who is blind but sings in all Indian languages. He had spoken about it in Mann Ki Baat and how talent really appeals to him. It was a very beautiful conversation and he was very humble, very generous with his compliments and he held our hands for 4-5 minutes and made us feel very comfortable.
Manmeet: The entire process of working on this song with PM Modi, from the time we composed it to the time we performed it in front of him in Gwalior was surreal. And then he was meeting us exclusively and the conversation we had after the show, we’ve always been a great fan of Mr Modi because of the way he works and how he has turned the country around by making it a digital world. It was manifested that it came and when we were in Gwalior, we got an approval to perform the song in front of him. It was so overwhelming because we could see him sitting in front, clapping and enjoying the song since it was such a rare sight of him tapping his fingers on his laps. Then he met us and exclusively took out 10 minutes and it was absolutely unbelievable meeting him. He is so humble, nice and artistic when he was talking about the song. The nuances of the song that he discussed were amazing, which means he is really an artist and he applauded our work and gave us more confidence. He told us that we did a great job which itself was an award for us.
For those who don’t understand Gujrati, how would you describe the lyrics of the song and what it talks about. And certainly how did you go about creating it with Divya Kumar?
For those who don’t understand Gujarati, this song is called ‘Maadi Maadi’ which means ‘Maa’ in Gujarati. It’s a prayer to ‘Maa’ where you are saying that it’s time to enjoy because Maa is here. And she is looking so beautiful, she has dressed up so nicely in Laal Chunri and all the ornaments. And the song is about her praises and how we are loving being surrounded by her, enjoying her energy.
Considering that the Prime Minister of this country had penned this song, were you guys in any way felt intimated or nervous about this collaboration? And whether the responsibility of shelling out an iconic Garba song was tough?
We were not nervous but it started with a feeling of disbelief when the song came to us. Because we’ve been big fans of Mr Modi, this was almost like we manifested it. And when the song was composed and was sent to them, they gave us a challenge that we had to do in four hours. So we had to record, make the video and plan the release. So it was in the record time frame when we did this. And after the song was loved by him and they said it was okay and let’s release it, we were happy and excited and told them that we cracked Gujarati Garba being Punjabis. That feeling was of happiness and excitement rather than nervousness.
As much as the song is catchy, the visuals in the music video seem to compliment it perfectly. What was the idea behind the music video? What sort of vibe did you all want to convey?
The music video had to be all about what the song was saying, about the festivities, about dressing up and dancing around her and enjoying the Garba, praying to her and dancing with her. It’s an exact feeling that everybody goes through in those nine days of Garba. That’s exactly what we wanted to show in the video and that’s how we made the video and we shot it with both Harmeet and me, the Meet Bros, recording Divya Kumar.
We wanted to show the team that had done the song.
Seeing people’s reception to the song, how does it make you feel as music composers? Whether you’ll be open to more such collaborations with PM Modi in future?
People’s reception was really overwhelming. Especially when you realise that as a Punjabi, you’ve created something for people that belong to a different culture altogether. It was the most played song this Navaratri, even in Gujarat. It was very assuring that we were able to grasp the nerves of the Gujarati community. And my wife is a Gujarati. So when we met Modi Ji, I did convey to him that I am a ‘Damaad’ of Gujarat. So we got it right since we had God’s blessings with us. And it was very overwhelming to see people dancing to it. And when we met him, we told him that we wanted to do more songs with him and he even agreed. So we are looking forward to another collaboration.
You started your career in Bollywood around the time when Bollywood music was transitioning. How tough and challenging was it for you guys to cement your place among already established composer duos like Sachin-Jigar, Shankar Ehsan Loy, Sajid Wajid etc? What can you recall about the struggles and difficulties that you guys encountered and how you emerged victorious from that?
When we started our career, there was only one music director who would compose the entire album. We did Zanjeer as an entire album and we realised that you make so many songs, when the movie doesn’t work, all the songs just don’t work. So we realised we needed more movies instead of putting all our songs into one album. So we were the first people who started doing that, while all the biggies, composer duos were focusing on entire albums. But we realised that If we were creating 25-30 songs in a year, there will be 10 different films and more opportunities to work with more people, to be a part of different films and that really worked for us. That was something that we saw ahead of everybody else. And this method works because today everyone is applying the same thing in their career trajectories. The only difficulty in the initial years was that since we were from ‘well-to-do’ families, we used to go in our fancy cars to meet producers. And we realised that if they come out and see the cars, they might feel that we are not hungry enough. So we used to park our cars ten minutes before our meetings, we would pick our instruments and we would walk to the producers, covered in sweat, so that they realise that we were here for the hard work and not let them form a negative opinion about us.
How instrumental was Anjjan’s contribution in this journey. You guys collaborated after 8 years for Gujju Pataka song from Satyprem Ki Katha and that song too went viral.
Anjjan’s contribution was very vital because when you start together, it’s the energy of three people that was flowing into the songs. And he was very close to us emotionally and the sentimental values are always there. It was a lot of fun working with him and then he decided at some point that he wanted to try something of his own and we willingly accepted it. Everybody has the right to do things that they want. It’s great now that we are collaborating again. Those fun times are there and more laughter while making music as always. Kumar is always there, sitting and cracking jokes, through good times and bad. We are a collaborative engine again and we’ll be doing a lot of music together as well.
One of your recent songs that I absolutely loved is from Dream Girl 2. And that song is Main Marjawangi. The song is absolutely brilliant since the way it has been arranged gives you an uncanny, nostalgic feeling that you are listening to a song that was released sometime between 2009-2013. Moreover, it also serves as a major crescendo in the movie. What’s the story and process behind this song?
So happy to know that your favourite song is also my favourite song. Because it’s a beautiful song sung by Sunidhi Chauhan. We wanted to create that value of that original sound that we all loved back in 2000, early 2000. It just came about perfectly. It suited the situation. It had drama and melody. It had the Sufi touch and the dance. The way Ayushmann Khurrana danced, it will put all the women to shame. If someone from a different country sees that video, they would not know it’s a man dancing. It is definitely one of our most favourite songs.
What should we all look forward to in terms of music when it comes to Meet Bros? What plans do you have for the future? And whether we also hear independent songs from you guys or songs in OTT?
So what’s coming up is an amazing two different albums. One is called MB classics, where we are bringing the 90s type of music, with all the new and emerging talents of India. Lots of kids you see in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Indian Idol and other reality shows. There are a lot of kids who have come up on YouTube. So we are taking the new talents who are clearly popular and they are singing those songs. The other series is called ‘White Room’. We have shot those songs and they are all soulful Meet Bros style melodies where you have Papon, Ankit Tiwari, Javed Ali, Neha Bhasin etc. We have shot it in a white room and we call it that because music has no colour.