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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

1990s icon Sadasivan KM Nambisan aka Sadu recently returned to the pop-rock canon with his first single of the year, Yakeen. With vibrant arrangements of electric guitar solos, a grand piano, and contemporary production, the ballad is dedicated to eternal love.

In this exclusive interview with India Currents, the vocalist, lyricist, composer, and founder member of the erstwhile pop act Aryans, talks about the idea behind the song, keeping his music relevant for global audiences, and celebrating the magic of ghazals during the lockdown.

Muscian Sadu (Credit: Sadu)

IC: Tell us about your latest pop-rock video single Yakeen, the idea, and inspiration behind it.

S: The first crush of an individual lives on for a lifetime—no matter what, you cannot forget it. The inspiration for Yakeen is the inner belief that your beloved is around you, watching over you, embracing you all the time. It’s just that she ain’t there physically.

Yakeen is hope which lives on while relishing the memories and moments you shared with him/her. When I started writing the song it went ‘tu hai mere dil ki dard-e-dawa, tu hai meri saanson mein behti hawa...’ The next lines actually didn’t take time at all to write, they just flew into my mind. 

IC: How do you keep your music relevant, particularly for global audiences?

S: Simple hummable melody and good lyrics are what I personally believe in. The relevance of the music depends on the trend of music arrangement and the sound of that time, So, whatever is ear pleasing/soothing is my music. I do not want to classify it under any genre. If you want to call it pop or rock, you are welcome. 

Musician Sadu (Credit: Sadu)

IC: You have been active musically since the nineties. What do you feel are some of the changes that have taken place in the music scene over the decades?

S: With blockbusters in the ’90’s and early 2000s, Aankhon Mein Tera Hi Chehra,Yeh Hawa Kehti Hai Kya, and Dekha Hai Teri Aankhon Ko, we made our place in the independent music scene of India. Later on, I started my own film and video production company called Seventh Angle Productions. We produced a few music videos and my first two solo singles Mohabbat Mein and Haseen Gunah were released by Times Music. Subsequently, I kept composing and getting connected to all the ace musicians, music producers, and music arrangers of the country.  

In September 2019, I started my own music company, Sadu Music. My first release, ‘Mausam’ was received well with a lot of downloads on audio platforms and over a million views for the video as well.

The second was a Punjabi romantic track Hor Kinne Suboot Lyawaan, which also did well. Then, Ankh Se Door Na Ho was a pop-ghazal written by great the Ahmed Faraz; that was followed by Khoj, written by Nida Fazli, and then Habeeb written by Bashir Badr, after which I did a pop song Farar. I recently released Yakeen, which is being appreciated all over. 

These days, I find remixes and cover versions of old songs and rap, which is done by non-singers/musicians to entertain listeners with vulgar abuses, teasing women, and praising liquor/drugs, which I strictly don’t endorse.

There are lots of new and brilliant original independent, folk, and classical artists whom I appreciate, who are doing amazingly well for themselves. I feel the internet era is a blessing in disguise for all those talented musicians for whom showcasing their songs is at their fingertips. They can upload their songs on plenty of audio and video platforms worldwide for streaming, and of course, social media is a boon for the publicity of their creations. 

IC: You spent the lockdown/pandemic-based downtime celebrating the magic of ghazals with mellifluous old world style tracks. Tell our readers more about this.

S: In the last lockdown, I tried out singing my favorites, primarily my passion, ghazals by Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Talat Mahmood, Yesudas, and Jagjit Singh, and uploaded it on social media. It received a massive positive response from all over the globe, which tempted me to go for ghazals. I loved the poetry of Ahmad Faraz, hence didn’t have a choice but to start with Aankh Se Door Na Ho

The new generation is deprived of the fantasy of ghazals, hence I thought of bringing the mystic ambience back to South Asian audiences with the latest sound, so they can relate to it easily. AfterAankh Se Door Na Ho, I tried outKhoj, which was written by the great Nida Fazli and had a beautiful music video to complement it. Later, I released Habeeb, which has been written by Bashir Badr. It was the most beautiful experience, since I did it for the first time. But my first love is always pop-rock—my comfort zone. 

IC: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations (both Indian and western)?

S: My western music influences include The Beatles, Queen, Eagles, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Bryan Adams, Dire Straits, and Jennifer Lopez. My Indian influences include Ilayaraja, Yesudas, Kishore Kumar, Talat Mehmood, Nazia Hassan, Ali Haider, Ghulam Ali, and Mehdi Hassan. 

IC: What is your perception of music?

S: My perception of music is that it’s like a kite—the more you loosen the string, the higher it climbs into the sky. 

I love experimentation, and am always open to trying out new permutations and combinations in the arrangement of my compositions. I believe that independent music is one genre where music is a free bird having the never-ending desire of perspectives and to explore the unknown possibilities. To gain anything is not at all easy—it requires lots of effort, patience, and passion, and goes through a lot of pain. Believe in yourself and give your best. Keep trying what satisfies you. It’s only one life, go for it in a big way. There aren’t any shortcuts to reach there. Keep away from drugs, cigarettes, and liquor. Wear masks and stay home, stay safe.

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Neha Kirpal

Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer based in Delhi. She has worked for over a decade in print, television, and online media. Her diverse interests in the culture beat include books, music, travel, films,...