Hitting the right note

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By For music director Sandesh Shandilya and wife Kiran, romance is still very much alive after marriage FAMILY TIES - Sandesh and Kiran Shandilya AS TOLD TO SUSHMITA BISWAS
  • Published 19.11.05

For music composer Sandesh Shandilya it was, literally, love at first sight. He met Kiran, who was a doctor in Pune, in a college canteen and proposed to her soon afterwards. She turned him down initially because she didn’t want to have anything to do with a person from the film industry, but later changed her mind.

Sandesh, who zoomed into the limelight with his famous composition You Are My Sonia in Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham is today a top-rated music composer. His soulful songs in Chameli, Agnivarsha, Uuf..Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai and Socha Na Tha have established him in this highly competitive industry. Currently, he’s working round the clock for films like Cha Cha Cha by Shiv Subramanium, Three Sisters by Kundan Shan, Butterfly Chase by Jhanu Baruah and The Woman Tree by Rajan Khosla. Sandesh has also composed for a few albums like Piya Basanti (featuring Ustad Sultan Khan and Chitra), Pyar Ke Geet (featuring Shubha Mudgal) and I Love You (featuring Udit Narayan).

Born and brought up in Agra, Sandesh moved to Jammu to study mechanical engineering but opted out in the second year to take up a career in music. He started taking musical lessons at Delhi’s Shriram Bharati Kala Kendra, then shifted to Mumbai to become a disciple of Ustad Sultan Khan. He also teamed up with music arranger Surinder Singh Sodi and worked as his assistant. Sandesh was also trained by pianist Celia Lobo and Joe Fernandes who gave him vocal training.

Recently Sandesh finished composing for the film The Beatification of Mother Teresa produced by a French company,Tribe K Films and he’s also looking forward to the release of the film Kalpurush by Buddhadeb Dasgupta.

Sandesh’s wife Kiran is from Chandigarh and is a doctor at Mumbai’s Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy Hospital. Kiran studied at the Armed Force Medical College in Pune.


I met Kiran in Pune when I went there to take voice training from Celia Lobo. We met at the AFMC canteen and after meeting Kiran, I made up my mind to marry her and therefore proposed to her. The proposal came as a shock to her and she initially refused. But I didn’t lose hope and kept insisting that we should get married at once.

Kiran told me that her father would not agree and therefore it was pointless to carry on the relationship. Since I am a very positive person, I decided to meet her father in Chandigarh and ask for her hand. The problem was that her parents had set notions about the film world and thus, didn’t want their daughter to settle down with somebody from the music industry. But after we met in Chandigarh, Kiran’s father couldn’t say no and so, in December 2002 we tied the knot.

Marriage has really changed me as a person. People like us in showbiz tend to live in a fantasy world. But after marrying Kiran, I have got a taste of the real world. When I go to pick her up from the hospital, I am always horrified to see patients who are ill or who have had bad accidents. But Kiran has to deal with these people everyday and so she has to be more grounded. She always tells me that people in the glamour field are selfish as they always think of themselves. I remember on our first Valentine’s Day after marriage, Kiran was unable to come home because she had night duty in the hospital. I joined her in her ward but I came back quickly, horrified after seeing so much blood and wounds.

When Kiran comes home, I try my best to give her good company by playing some good music or composing. This gives her mental peace and allows her to de-stress. You can say that romance is still blooming after marriage. Kiran is also a very good listener and gives me frank opinions about my work.

Kiran and I don’t have major squabbles as both of us have different fields. Our marriage is solely based on the bedrock of friendship and she acts as my guiding force. She is the greatest inspiration behind my work and always encourages me to take up interesting projects. Most importantly, she understands my moods, my fears and guides me accordingly.


When Sandesh proposed to me, I first said no because I wanted to join the army as a doctor. Since I come from an army background I had no intention of marrying somebody from the film world. And I made myself very clear to Sandesh from the start. But even though I used to say no, I could not give him valid reasons about why we should not get married. Sandesh insisted he would meet my father and clear all his preconceived notions about film people. And when they finally met in Chandigarh, my father relented. What struck him most was that Sandesh came across as a very unassuming and honest guy.

Today, we are the best of friends and I have no regrets about marrying a music director. Before marriage everybody told me not to get married to Sandesh because he was from the film industry. But today his work is a pleasure to me because when I come back home after duty at the hospital, he tries his best to entertain me. I like to relax by listening to his music. Apart from being a good composer, Sandesh has a wonderful voice. I am a big fan of his music and love all the songs he has composed especially Suraj Hua Madhyam from Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham and Piya Basanti Re.

Sandesh is a perfectionist and has achieved success after struggling very hard in this industry. I am really proud of his achievements and want him to flourish. Both of us belong to different professions, but we never have any ego hassles. Sandesh has given me the emotional anchoring, which I needed the most. For me love is belonging to each other and I am always there for him in his moments of glory.

Photograph by Gajanan Dudhalkar