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Hari & Sukhmani To Perform With Pak Band Noori

Chandigarh electro folk duo, who feature in the penultimate episode of The Dewarists, talk collaborations and finding good company in Pak band, Noori

Megha Mahindru Nov 23, 2012
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Hari & Sukhmani. Photo: Siddharth Dugha

Chandigarh-based artists Hari Singh and Sukhmani Malik’s trusted Macbook bears testimony to their TV appearances. The masticated apple on their laptop was first slapped with an [email protected] Studio sticker and now it carries a bigger stamp of The Dewarists, the television music collaboration series, which will feature the group next month.

When we met the artists, who were in Mumbai last week to perform at Blue Frog, the city seemed to be in limbo. As rumors of Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s passing spread fast, Hari & Sukhmani were busy prepping for their first gig in Mumbai. “It’s crazy hectic. We travel after a gig at night to reach another city early in the morning,” said Sukhmani Malik. Their packed gig calendar had the duo traveling from Delhi to Chandigarh to Nainital to Dehradun in a span of ten days. But despite the busy schedule, both of them also managed to take two months off their Indian gig calendar for a self-funded tour of America. The tour, they told us, wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the corporate events and destination weddings that are a big part of their annual roster. “These gigs help us do a whole lot of things. The money is double of what we get at a gig,” said Sukhmani.

They’ve also stepped in as opening acts for Bollywood shows. The worst, they recall, was opening for Sonu Nigam in Detroit this year. “It was a nightmare,” said Sukhmani, “Sonu Nigam was unwell and running late so the crowd just lost it. There were some 4,500 Sonu Nigam fans who just didn’t want to hear us. Can you imagine our plight!” Although the tour led to a fortuitous meeting with Pakistani pop band Noori comprising siblings Ali Noor and Ali Hamza, who both play the guitar. “Noori got popular because of their Coke Studio performance. In fact, that’s how we heard about them,” said Sukhmani. Hari & Sukhmani went on to open for Noori in Dallas and even collaborated with the band on a track titled “Yaarian,” which they plan to perform with the Pakistani band at a gig in Delhi next week.

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Like Noori, which featured on Season 2 of Coke Studios Pakistan, Hari & Sukhmani’s stage performances are known for their collaborations including esraj player Arshad Khan, who is a regular on their show. The two have also performed with vocalist Suman Sridhar of Sridhar/Thayil and morchang player Chugge Khan from Rajasthan Roots. This teamwork is an exercise in finding their own sound, said the Chandigarh duo. “While we are making original music, we are also using that as a platform to collaborate with others so it takes our music to another level. We don’t want to stagnate and stick to one type of sound. It’s all about evolution,” said Hari. “10 Seconds To Wisdom,” with Sikh hip-hop artist, Mandeep Sethi is next in line of their collaborations that will be released this December.

Hari & Sukhmani are also well aware that all collaborations don’t always go off so smoothly. They cite their recent one with veteran percussionist Trilok Gurtu on the television jam show, The Dewarists, as an example. “He’s a big guy but it was mad for us to be collaborating with him because he was so engrossed in himself,” said Hari. Added Sukhmani, “I don’t like being diplomatic. I  think that just because you are older you can’t slap around anybody and say anything. Vocally, I’m not happy. He [Gurtu] didn’t give me a chance. He didn’t know we were there”¦ he was just recording his instruments.” Unlike the five-day jam routine that The Dewarists follows, “Maati” was made on a two-day deadline with the third day reserved for recording the video, rued the duo. “There was a big age gap between us, but when you are collaborating with someone you have to look at one another as equals,” said Hari.

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Marked with artistic clashes, Sukhmani described the episode as a “Punjabi-Marathi face-off,” but was optimistic that it would make for great television. “It’s mirch masala man, people will love it. It’s good for the TRPs. Why do people watch Big Boss? So we’ve added that to a music show now,” added Hari.

Hari & Sukhmani will perform with Noori at Blue Frog Delhi on November 28th. Entry Rs 350


Watch Noori perform on Coke Studio Pakistan here:

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