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Neighbours, now melody-makers
- Jeet-Pritam: Two boys from Bengal strike a crescendo in Bollywood

Chandrajeet Ganguly and Pritam Chakraborty, music directors, Mumbai. Not a business card to strike a chord. Not till they introduce themselves as Jeet-Pritam; not till they go Sharara sharara...

Yes, the melody-makers of the chartbuster from Yashraj Films’ Mere Yaar ki Shaadi Hai are boys from Bengal, who’ve hit big time in Bollywood. “Our names and looks make people think we are Punjabis,” laughs Pritam, a geology graduate from Presidency College.

It was the Bengali connection that brought Jeet and Pritam together. “We were neighbours in a housing complex in Kandivali. Our mail used to come to the same counter. One day, Pritam spotted my name and profession on an envelope and looked me up. It made sense for two Bengalis struggling in Bollywood to make music together,” says Jeet, from Baranagar, who was then playing the guitar in Anup Jalota’s troupe. Pritam was into ad films, with jingles for Complan, Hyundai Santro, Shalimar Paints under his belt.

Once the partnership began, the two started pitching for films. “Our first venture was Tere Liye…,” says Pritam, whose FTII links helped them bag the teenage film in 1999. The album sold more than tickets and Dil Dhapak, a Sonu Nigam number, became popular.

When their debut director Sanjay Gadvi started working for Yashraj Films, he took them along. “Adi (Aditya Chopra) heard us but could not decide immediately. Other composers — Anand Raj Anand, Nikhil Vinay and Jatin Lalit — were also in the fray. He decided to take it one song at a time,” recounts Pritam.

The first of their songs to be “locked” was Ek ladki ki tumhe kya sunau dastan. Says Jeet: “After three songs were approved, we knew this was our film. Sharara sharara was next in line. I called up Ashaji (Bhosle) on the morning of the recording and played her the song on the guitar over phone.”

Everyone including “Yashji and Pam aunty” (Yash and Pamela Chopra) came to the studio that evening. Asha’s innovations added punch to the peppy number and the duo knew it had a hit in hand. Working in Mere Yaar… was a “huge learning experience”, with “Yashji having the final say in every song”.

Jeet and Pritam are now busy recording for the Arya Babbar-starrer Mudda, directed by Saurav Shukla. They have also been booked for the next Pritish Nandy Communication film, starring Rahul Bose. Working double-shifts and staying up nights are well worth it as long as their music is playing on the streets. “Just after Mere Yaar… was released, I heard an auto whizzing past, playing Sharara sharara. That was my best moment in Mumbai,” says Pritam, keen to record a Bangla album — and be back home for the Pujas.

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