From Sa Re Ga Ma Pa to Indian Idol to working with some of the most influential names in the music industry, Shashi Suman has rapidly gaining recognition for his voice and compositions. Shashi and his partner, Shivam Pathak, are composing music that is being widely appreciated. The duo has shown their capabilities with Mary Kom where they gave us chartbuster numbers like Ziddi Dil.

The duo has recently composed a soulful track called ‘Nindiya’ for Sarbjit, their second association with producer Sandeep Singh. Pandolin chatted up with Shashi to learn more about his rapport with Shivam, their struggle behind capturing the powerful emotions for this song, his musical inspirations and more.

Music Composer and Singer Shashi Suman

Music Composer and Singer Shashi Suman

Can you give us some insights into your musical background and training?

It all started with my father who used to play the tabla. He started teaching me from my childhood and as I learnt from him, my interest in music grew. I went to Bhatkhande Music Institute, Lucknow, to learn vocals. Besides this, I trained under Ustad Gulshan Bharti for almost seven years. Once my training was complete, I decided to participate in Zee Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2008. I was selected as one of the finalists and I came to Mumbai. The judges – Aadesh Shrivastava, Shankar Mahadevan and Pritam –  supported me a lot. After the show, I got a chance to assist Aadeshji, under whom I learnt a lot about studio work. In fact, Aadeshji gave me my first break as I got the chance to sing Mora Piya (from Raajneeti) with him. The classical parts of the song were sung by me. In2010, when the movie released, I also opted to enter Indian Idol and became a finalist there too.


When did you get the opportunity to compose professionally and how did you get your first break?

I used to compose music when I was in Lucknow, but I never thought that I would compose professionally. It was while I was learning studio work that I realized that there is a composer somewhere in me. During Indian Idol I composed a song that spoke about my journey. Unfortunately, before I could perform the song, I was eliminated. But then the best thing happened; the five contestants who were there at that time, decided to perform that song and dedicated it to me.

Once when they were rehearsing, Sandeep Singh, the CEO of Bhansali Productions was present there. He heard the song and really liked the composition. So he asked for my number and later called me to meet him. When I met him, he told me that I was a better composer than a singer and I think that is one of the best compliments that I’ve ever received. He then introduced me to Sanjay Leela Bhansali who asked me a lot of questions regarding my music and also took a couple of tests. He liked my work and compositions and told me about a new project that he was starting. The film was Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela and I got the chance to assist him on the music of the film.

After Ram-Leela, Sanjay Sir had more confidence in me as he told me about Mary Kom, which was being produced by him. He wanted me to give an audition to compose the theme song that was Ziddi Dil. I composed the song and he liked it and that is how Mary Kom happened. The music was done by Shivam Pathak and me.

Tell us about your collaboration with Shivam Pathak and the bond that the two of you share.  Is there a process that you’ll follow while composing?

I met Shivam Pathak during Indian Idol where he was a fellow contestant and we clicked easily. Shivam also composes and so we would compose and jam together.

And, there is no process as such. We are like brothers and we have a lot of fun while working even if the work is serious. Our individual work belongs to different genres so we complement each other quite well. Therefore, we decided to work together. We first worked on Mary Kom and now on ‘Nindiya’ from Sarbjit.

Tell us about ‘Nindiya’. How did you’ll bag the song?

Sandeep Singh who was the producer of Mary Kom has produced Sarbjit too. He liked our previous work very much and so he offered us this song, saying that this is an extremely important track. He explained to us the situation in which ‘Nindiya’ would be placed. It comes at the time when Sarbjit dies, so it’s an emotional time in the story.

What emotions did you want to capture through the song?

Since the film is based on a real life story, it was very difficult to capture the emotions. The song comes at a very intense moment in the film, when Sarbjit dies, so there is a lot of pain in that moment. How does one capture so much pain? So we decided to not show the pain and instead capture the sense of release. Sarbjit could at last get the peace that he deserved and this is what we wanted to show through the song. If you closely listen to the lyrics, even though the characters are in pain and are going through an extremely tough time, there is some amount of positivity in the song.


Shashi Suman

Shashi Suman

How was the experience of composing this song different from your previous films like Bajirao Mastani or Mary Kom?

For Bajirao Mastani I was assisting Sanjay Sir, so that was more like a learning period. But something like Mary Kom was quite challenging. We had gone to Manipur, researched on the sounds, folk music and musical instruments of the region. We studied all that and then started working on the music. Sarbjit was challenging in a different way as we were trying to capture extremely intense emotions.


You keep doing a lot of live shows, how different is that in terms of energy as compared to composing for a film?

They both are opposite things. Performing live has another kind of high as there are thousands of people and all the eyes are on you. There is a different kind of intoxication on stage. While composing for a film you are working in a studio so that requires a different mindset. Moreover, in a studio you are creating something new. So both have their own kind of satisfaction. I feel very lucky that I can do both.

Where do you draw inspiration for your music?

I draw inspiration from two people; one is Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I think his music is very soulful and I have learnt a lot by listening to his music. I think he was a great composer and singer. Even today people listen to his qawwalis and songs. There is this magic in his music that makes his songs unforgettable. Another person that I draw inspiration from is A R Rahman. I have learnt a lot through his music as well.


Do composing and singing go hand-in-hand for you?

Singing is in my blood and that is not going to go anywhere. I will continue to sing my own songs in the coming time as well. Ideally composing and singing should go hand-in-hand and I will do that wheever possible.

What kind of songs can we look forward to from you?

There are a lot of songs that we are working on, but revealing the names right now would be too soon. But yes, we will be working on several of Sandeep Singh’s films in the coming year. He has locked a lot of songs for his future films.