Ismailimail is excited to present the second in a series of three interviews, where Salim shared several insights and perspectives as Ismailimail coordinated their interview with PBS in New York.
In these heart to heart conversations with Ismailimail, Salim talked about TKN (Time and Knowledge Nazrana) fulfillment and the spirit of giving, what they wanted to achieve with their North American Tour and their love for music.
The North American tour was our TKN
… we wanted to share our love for music
… conduct workshops with the youth
… we wanted to give.
It was not only about the performances.
– Salim Merchant, talking to Ismailimail
On the Genesis of the North American tour
We have been lucky to have so many fans in Canada and the US that follow our music and since we have had performances in the UK, we decided on the encouragement of our supporters to do some in North America. But we did not want it to be just about performances. We wanted it to be different. We wanted to share the many blessings in our life – we wanted to give back to our fans. We wanted to have fun with our fans, make an impact and inspire others.
On TKN (Time and Knowledge Nazrana) fulfillment and the spirit of giving
Many Ismailis gave TKN during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee to serve the Imam and Jamat. If you ask any Ismaili what is the most prestigious thing for them, they will say meeting Hazar Imam. We have been very fortunate to have performed in the presence of the Imam twice, and nothing in our lives will beat that experience.
So we wanted to do something special – give back to the Imam and Jamat. This tour is our TKN, sharing our music with the jamats and people. We did not want it to be just for the jamat but for everyone . We also did not want it to be just about the performances … we wanted it to be bigger than that … we wanted to really make a difference – make an impact with everyone, kids and adults.
So we conducted workshops with the youths in Toronto, Houston and other places. We also had talented Ismailis from the local jamats perform with us like the Canadian Ismaili Choir in Toronto. We also collaborated with Farhan Aktar to produce the single “Chulein Aasman” for women’s emancipation. We supported many causes such as AKF’s fight for Global Poverty, FOCUS and other charities. We recorded a new song for our next film “Un-Indian” with Ismaili talent in Houston. All this was important for us – giving, sharing and having fun.
On the Power of Music
Well you know though our love of music, we are able to do so many things as I already mentioned. But we also wanted to inspire others on what music can help others achieve. That is why our performances had a strong focus on supporting charitable causes. Music is a powerful force and it a a language that anyone can understand … it touches our hearts – it makes us emotional. So we wanted to use the power of music to have fun, educate and inspire.
On the Inspiration of Faith
Everything we do with our songs, we like to bring out the faith component – that is what inspires us. That is also why our songs are influenced by what some people say sufi. We like to incorporate all forms of music and find a modern way of relating it – especially for the youth and younger people.
Like all Ismaili parents our parents encouraged us to go to Jamat Khana in the morning and evening and to pray … and that stayed with us and we keep that tradition alive everyday. It is very important to us.
Ismailimail concludes this interview with an excerpt from the PBS interview which captures Salim & Sulaiman’s sentiments on how faith inspires them.
SULAIMAN: But more than anything else, I think it was the whole concept of giving. We were always taught to give and we do that through our music as well. When we get the love from all these audiences and all the fans, we like to give that love back.
SALIM: Faith and you know, keeping the prayer tradition was very important. It was important to pray in the mornings and the evenings and keeping that as a strong tradition, you know, every day.
– Salim & Sulaiman Merchant, interview with PBS*
- Interview Excerpt reproduced with permission from PBS – Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
Coming up next, Salim-Sulaiman’s interview with PBS
Salim-Sulaiman’s North American Tour has been of a success of epic proportions in terms of the impact it has had in inspiring different interest groups.
– An Inspired Fan
Their greatest honour has been performing in the presence of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan twice, once in Kenya and more recently in India. They have also had the privilege of performing in the presence of Princess Zahra.
Salim-Sulaiman have been composing music for over a decade having scored for movies including Rab Ne Banadi Jodi, FASHION, Roadside Romeo, Iqbal, Dor, Heroine, Chak De India, and many more.
The versatile duo has scored for a string of Bollywood movies, composed for several Indi-pop sensations including Viva, Asmaan, ShwetaShetty, Jasmine and Style Bhai among others, composed and produced hundreds of TV commercials.
Recognized for their talents throughout the industry, Salim-Sulaiman have received numerous awards including the 2004 Screen Award for Best Background Music for Bahoot; the 2005 Screen Weekly Award for Best Background Music for Dhoom; the 2005 Technical Award for Best Background Score for Ab Tak Chhappan; the 2007 Zee Cine Technical Award for Best Background Score for Krrish; and the 2014 Mirchi Music Award for Best Indi-Pop Song of the Year.
Incorporating cinematic, folk, Electronica and Sufi influences to their music, Salim and Sulaiman Merchant are among India’s most respected composers. Recently they composed the musical Merchants of Bollywood, as well as their much awaited Hollywood film Sold which is rapidly gaining attention at numerous film festivals.
They have been nominated for Daytime Emmy Awards and collaborated to remix songs with Lady Gaga.
The duo has enthralled audiences across the world with their live concerts, particularly during their performance at the FIFA World Cup 2010 opening ceremony. In addition, Salim-Sulaiman have been part of numerous television shows including their role as celebrity judges on Indian Idol.