Mumbai-based band Sanam consists of Venky S (on bass guitar), Samar Puri (on guitar/vocals), fronted by crooner Sanam Puri and Keshav Dhanraj on the drums
The Indian pop band, popular for their lilting numbers, has prepared a set list packed with romantic songs for their Valentine's Day 2020 concert at Bollywood Parks, Dubai, this Friday
Writing romantic songs and performing them is second nature for Sanam, the popular Indian band, who are headlining a special Valentine's Day concert in Dubai. "We've all enjoyed the feeling of being in love at some point in time, and this reflects in our music. So love, whether it is writing songs, or performing them, comes naturally to us and it's very easy for us to express those feelings in our music." Sanam told City Times, ahead of their Bollyboom Valentine's 2020 at Bollywood Parks this Friday. The concert also features Indian singer and songwriter Sanah Moidutty.
The Mumbai-based band consisting of Sanam Puri (vocals), Samar Puri (guitar/vocals), Venky S. (bass guitar/vocals) and Keshav Dhanraj (drums and vocals) has come a long way since they formed a decade ago. But like many other bands, Sanam too had to resort to performing music by other artistes when looking for a break into the music world.
"Actually, we started out with originals, but due to lack of adequate support from music labels, we had to resort to cover tunes. We desperately wanted to reach out to people and we thought, the best way to do it was to do songs people were familiar with. We never thought we'd get such a massive response. So that's why we switched to cover tunes, but once we connected with people we slowly started introducing our originals. Now, whenever we perform, we mix it up with originals and cover tunes, and the audience just loves us for that," said Samar.
Lead vocalist Sanam Puri, who has done playback singing and worked with Bollywood composers, says he prefers to perform with Sanam because it gave him the liberty to express himself. He also enjoys connecting with the audience, especially at live performances.
"Our music reaches out to a wide age group, in fact, we have some friends in Dubai who asked us if they could bring their children to our concert. We're only glad to have them because our music reaches out to youngsters too. We have observed how music in India, whether its movies or on social media, brings people together and that's what we represent through our music."
In live situations, Sanam feeds off the energy of the crowd, adds drummer Keshav. "It gives us immense satisfaction when we see a large number of people turning out for our concerts. It only goes to prove that our music is good and it has touched them enough to bring them to our gigs. You may have a million followers online, but what good is it if only a handful turn up for your concert? That's not the case with us, we have millions of online fans but we also draw sizeable crowds for our live shows."
Explaining further the impact of live concerts, he said. "Whenever we go on stage we start off in a powerful manner. From there on, it's a give and take between us and the audience. Our shows are very interactive and conversational, so to speak. We believe that as artistes we must give more than 100 per cent effort because that's what will impact our performance and move audiences."
This is not the first time the band has performed live here, having delivered an explosive concert when they played at the Zabeel Park Amphitheatre in 2018. "It feels great coming back to Dubai. Venky (bass guitarist) has lived in Dubai and I have lived in Muscat. So we know the region, that's why we love coming back here," said Sanam Puri.
The band is popular for their interpretations of hits such as Lag Ja Gale, Gulabi Aankhen, O Mere Dil Ke Chain and Mere Mehboob Qayamat Hogi. For their Dubai concert, considering it's Valentine's Day, they have prepared a setlist that's packed with infectious romantic songs and some fun songs which they promise will get the crowd up on their feet.
"Whoever is coming for our show this time, will experience something different. We have a lot of surprises planned. Though one day is not enough to encapsulate this (feeling of love). But we look at it as a festive day and to perform a live show on this day is special. It's going to be a bunch of our Valentine's Day releases on YouTube, ballads and lots of fun songs that'll keep the crowd dancing and singing along."
It's not surprising to find Sanam's setlist featuring Arabic songs as a few of them grew up in the Middle East. "Samar, Sanam and I met in Muscat and played together in the school band for a few years," shared Venky, who grew up in Dubai and later moved to Muscat.
"During those years, we used to listen to a lot of popular Arabic music, so we explored that genre and discovered some tracks (the band could do). This led us to cover popular tunes by Arab artists such as Cheb Khaled, Amr Diab and Saad Lamjarred, to name a few."
With over 7 million online subscribers and counting, Sanam is extremely popular online. They were tagged as 'India's fastest-growing YouTube channel' in 2018. When asked if going viral could be a measure of success, Sanam Puri said, "It is by no means a measure of a good artist. Going viral doesn't necessarily mean that a song is good. For instance, you may see an odd clip on social media of two people slapping each other and it goes viral. Does that mean it's a good video? Perhaps not. Does it mean that the video is credible? No, it's only different. These days, you do anything different on social media and it goes viral, that's how it is in online business."
Sanam prefers quality over virality. "Perhaps our songs have not gone viral, but they've grown (in popularity) over some time. Google did a study of our YouTube channel and they told us that our songs were rising (in numbers) over time and, the growth was impressive. The songs must be good, that's why it's attracted 7 million YouTube subscribers. But our growth has been purely organic, we have not promoted ourselves using marketing gimmicks or paid someone to boost our image. We don't believe in pushing our songs on anybody."
These days, Bollywood music is heavily influenced by western pop; infusing hip-hop and rap has become a common thing. Sanam Puri, however, feels there's nothing wrong in following new trends. "Popular music in Hindi films have always had global influences, so it's no surprise that these days composers are keeping up-to-date with the most contemporary trends. I personally love adding different styles of music in my musical expressions."
When asked about the challenges they face from new talent, Venky says, "It's all about being consistent. People associate us with a certain genre of music. As long as we're putting in our best efforts, we are happy. We just focus on what we do best and make sure we entertain, stay fit and are ready to perform to all kinds of crowds. That's what matters for us."
Some members of Sanam are known to be hardcore foodies. When asked what they would be gorging on during their stay in Dubai, guitarist Samar Puri says, "Sanam and I love Lebanese food. We just can't wait to get our hands on some vegan stuff though, something beyond burgers." If music is the food of love, then play on Sanam!
Sanah Moidutty to sing with sanam
Sanah Moidutty, who will be taking the stage alongside Sanam in Dubai on Friday, is an Indian singer and has collaborated with Sanam in two songs - Duaa and Kora Kagaz Tha Ye Man Mera. She has sung for Bollywood composers such as AR Rahman, Sachin-Jigar and Vishal-Shekhar. She has rendered her voice to films such as Always Kabhi Kabhi, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, The Attacks of 26/11, 24, Mohenjo Daro and Meri Pyari Bindu. Her training is in Carnatic, Hindustani and Western music which has helped her immensely in her career and she can also sing in Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Bengali, and Kannada. Sanah's cover tunes and mixes of Malayalam songs from late 80s and early 90s has brought her much fame.
How Sanam reworks classic songs
"The process starts with listening to the original version to get a proper understanding and imbibing it before rearranging the song to suit us," says Venky. "Sometimes we change the groove or the key (pitch). The instruments are adorned around the vocal melody and harmonies. We finally reach a point where we add the final touches to the arrangements and voila, we're off to shoot the music video," he adds.
1. Favourite music:
2. Style of music you dislike the most:
3. Dream venue:
Madison Square Garden
4. Biggest challenge:
To play in Dubai more often
5. An award you dream of winning:
Our biggest award is love we receive from our fans.
Sanam is playing at Bollywood Parks for the Bollyboom Valentine's 2020 on Friday, February 14. Tickets starting at Dhs99 are available at ae.bookmyshow.com or on www.dubai.platinumlist.net