After being the first Indian musicians to be nominated for an Emmy Award, for outstanding original song in the children and animation category for the animation show, The Wonder Pets, Salim-Sulaiman have another laurel in store. The duo was recently approached by a corporate body associated with FIFA, to compose a song for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, to be held in South Africa in June.
“The corporate body is mostly made up of Indians, so they wanted us to compose a sports anthem for the World Cup, on the lines of Chak de India, smiles Salim Merchant, one-half of the duo, which has composed songs for Chak De India, Kurbaan, and Fashion, among others.
Song on Africa
“We agreed but told them that we wanted to make a song on Africa, rather than on football, since we want the song to last longer than the duration of the World Cup,” Merchant adds.Since the song, titled ‘Africa’, is in English, the duo got rock band Tough On Tobacco’s frontman, and well-known independent musician, Sidd Coutto to sing on it.
“There are a limited options in Bollywood when it comes to singing English songs,” Merchant explains. “Since I keep a tab on the independent music scene, I thought of using a singer from a rock band. Naresh (Naresh Kamath, of Kailasa) recommended Sidd’s name to me, and since I had been to his gigs, we called him to the studio. He sounded fantastic on the song!”
Incidentally, the song, which chronicles Africa’s journey through tears and hardships, has been penned by Merchant’s wife, Jeanne Merchant, who is a musician herself. As a jazz singer, she has performed in many shows along with renowned musician Louiz Banks.
Although, initially, the duo weren’t sure about whether the song would actually be used in a big way during the World Cup, Merchant informs that recently, the main FIFA organising body heard the song and loved it. And now, there are plans of taking the song even further.
The composer duo is now planning to get iconic Senegalese singer and Grammy Award winner, Youssou N’Dour, on board to sing the song. “Youssou is the most famous African singer and we’d love nothing more than to get him to sing for us,” Merchant says. “The only unfortunate thing is that we’d have to remove Sidd’s voice from the track.”If all goes well for the duo, they will also perform at the closing ceremony of the FIFA World Cup. “We have our fingers crossed,” Merchant smiles.
Coming up next
Meanwhile, the brothers are looking forward to the release of Kites, for which they have composed an orchestral background score, and the long-awaited Nagesh Kukunoor film, Aashayein, for which they have composed the music. They’ve also composed the music for an untitled Yash Raj movie, which will release later in the year.