Our career proceeded slowly until Baby doll, say Meet Bros
In conversation with Palak Muchhal, Meet Bros' Manmeet and Harmeet Singh open up on the struggles they endured before feeling like they have finally arrived
In our tryst to arrive at musician duos who share a great camaraderie to do justice to this property, the Meet Brothers and Palak Muchhal come as a blessing. Their interaction is generously peppered with puns and satire, but their questions reveal their deep-seated aspirations as musicians. Manmeet and Harmeet Singh have known Muchhal since she was aged seven, and are hence evidently protective. Muchhal is every bit playful (and respectful) towards them. Even as we concise this 40-minute chat for print, we suggest you catch the full low-down on mid-day.com.
Muchhal to Meet Bros
What are the pros of working as a duo? Would you have rather been solo musicians?
Manmeet: If we had to be solo musicians, [we wouldn't] have worked for 20 years. The thought we harboured was that one and one makes 11. Initially, it was tough, because we weren't mature enough to handle it. There's no school that teaches you how to run a business with a brother. But when you pass through the storm of understanding each other, then it comes together.
Harmeet: We always have each other's back, so it is a blessing. There are very few cons of working with a brother. In life, you have to make money with another person, be it a composer or singer. Disagreements are bound to take place. So, you might as well disagree with your brother.
As composers, do you prefer to create a song after receiving the lyrics, or would you rather compose first, and then hand that over to the lyricist?
Manmeet: The past has proven that those who've created the people who've created a revolution are those who have not been masters of the field [they achieved success in]. They became masters while training on the job. That was also the case with us. We are entertainers. It's all that we wanted to do. When we were young, Harmeet would perform cabaret very well. So, I'd play with the lights to create a disco effect while he'd dance on Piya tu ab toh aaja, to entertain people. That's also how we work with our lyricists. We sit together and go with the flow. All our biggest hits have come from jamming with lyricists.
There are many singers who don't get a platform to showcase their talent. With your label MB Music, you are correcting that. What was the idea behind creating it?
Harmeet: It was essentially a life lesson. For 15 years, when we went about visiting different labels and didn't get a break, we know it involved a lot of struggle. When we didn't find support, we would be disappointed. Now that we know that we have the power [to give another person a chance], we shouldn't behave the same way that [the label owners did]. Our channel features a bevy of young artistes. All our videos have a small story. It's like watching a mini musical movie. We understand what the artistes want; the little things that corporates don't.
Manmeet: While there is a high in working with [veteran] singers, there's also a different kind of joy in working with new singers. Our songs shine when they're rendered by fresh voices.
What have been the most satisfying moments of your life?
Manmeet: The first one would be when we were able to relocate our parents to Mumbai.
Harmeet: I agree. I also believe that our compositions Baby doll and Chittiya kalaiya were high points in our life. Very often, you notice how people's lives progress very slowly, even though they struggle [to achieve success]. And then, suddenly, life picks up pace. For us, Baby Doll and Chitiya kalaiya were that push for our careers. It is after these two songs that people started noticing us. We will always show our gratitude for the people who were attached with these songs. It is because of their support that this happened. That was our turning point.
Manmeet: Do you know that it was because of you Palak, that we also met Salman [Khan]? That's because you knew him.
Harmeet: That was also important for us. We tried to reach him through 32 people. In his movies, I'd see the names of the cast members and analyse who I knew, and who could help me connect with him. No one could make that happen. Then, one day while talking to you, you said, 'Why don't you just message him, directly?' Then I took his number and messaged him. That's how Hangover happened.
Meet Bros to Muchhal
Who is your favourite singer, and what is the genre of music that you would want to be associated with?
It would be too shallow to use the word favourite for her, but I would say Lata ji [Mangeshkar]. I've always idolised her. As for the songs, there are many that I hear and hope to be given a chance to render something similar. One of them would be Lag ja gale.
As someone who has done live shows since childhood, and then donated that money for the treatment of cancer patients, do you derive more joy from this act of kindness or from the awards that you win?
I say this often — Regardless of how much money you earn or success you achieve, it can't compete with the joy you receive when you see someone smile and know that you are a reason behind it. Till today, 1,985 surgeries have been completed [for cancer patients]. I know that there are kids waiting in the hospital thinking, 'Tomorrow, Palak didi will perform, and then the day after, I can have the surgery'. A lot of people want to help others, and if I am blessed enough to do so, I must do so.
What are you most sensitive about, and what can easily hurt you?
I'm relatively stable, but I'm very sensitive when it comes to my family. Anything concerning my parents or my brother is what really bothers me.
Can you chronicle some important experiences you've had with other composers in Bollywood?
When I came to Mumbai, I had a list of music directors I wanted to work with, and I've ticked off 90 per cent of names on that list. The person who has taught me a lot is Himesh sir [Reshammiya]. When I work with him, there's always something I can take back home; be it [a lesson on] discipline or dedication. There's so much to learn from him. Also, the way MM Kreem makes a singer sing [is noteworthy]. He makes a singer feel empowered. I also love working with Jeet Gannguli.
What are the aspirations you harbour, as musician and individual?
I always have a plan. I want to keep on doing what I am doing. I also want to open a hospital where heart patients can be treated for free. I've already purchased a plot for it.
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