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Friendships forged when you are down and struggling can often stand the test of time. Indian singers Shaan and KK, who are set to perform together at a concert at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on November 9, provide ample proof to that theory.

More than two decades ago in the 1990s, this pair met on a local train in Mumbai when they were playback singer hopefuls desperate for a career break.

Fame hadn’t found them yet and a Bollywood breakthrough was proving elusive.

All they had with them were big dreams and even bigger ambitions. But they got to talking about their shared love for music and the rest is history.

“We have a natural chemistry with each other,” said KK in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid! ahead of his concert. Shaan believes that there’s an unspoken bro code between them where they look out for each other.

The two have come a long way since that momentous train journey.

Cut to 2018 and they are now household names with a roster of hits under their name. If Shaan has Jab Se Tere Naina from the Ranbir Kapoor film Saawariya and Chaand Sifaarish from Aamir Khan and Kajol film Fanaa under his designer belt, KK rocked our worlds with hits including Tadap Tadap (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) and Tune Maari Entry Yaar (Gunday).

“Our concert will be a medley of our hits… we guarantee you a fun time,” said Shaan.

The two are going to celebrate their long-enduring friendship during Salaam Dubai 2018, organised by Oberoi Middle East Events.

Excerpts from our chat with Shaan and KK as we discuss their music, the #Metoo movement in the music industry and more…

On their concert in Dubai this Friday

Shaan: “It’s the second time that KK and I are coming together to perform in Dubai. Back in 2016, we felt our concert was a resounding success judging by our listeners who kept posting videos and comments long after the night had ended. These days, you have sequels to everything. So why not have a sequel to our 2016 concert too?”

KK: “Shaan and I go a long way back in time. We both met on a local train in Bombay. We both had our headphones on, but we struck up a conversation. We both realised we were struggling musicians back then. It was one of those instances where we hit it off really well. Though we don’t hang out with each other every week, we feel deeply connected to each other… We share a great chemistry and this concert in Dubai will be a reboot of our 2016 gig. We both have some fantastic new releases since.”

On what’s in store for their UAE fans

Shaan: “We will be doing a tribute to our legends — Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar. We will also be celebrating our friendships. KK and I started our careers together. We were friends even before we became famous. Our history of friendship goes a long way back and we have always been very supportive and possessive about each other. We look out for each other. There is a bro code going on here… We did six shows in Bengal recently and we are now coming to Dubai after six grand rehearsals of sorts in India. There are many artists who come together but they do their separate sets on stage. But our show is divided into three sections and each section will see us come together. If KK will sing my song Tanha Dil, I will be singing his hit Yaaron. There’s no ego, tension or baggage between us. Plus, we have the most number of duets between us. We have sung around 20 duets together, and our concert is going to be a medley of all our hits.”

KK: “The crowd in Dubai is always a mixed bag and all they want to do is to have fun. So we are united to give you an amazing time.”

On their perception of each other

Shaan: “KK’s biggest strength is his boyishness. He could give a teenager a run for his money and his energy is infectious. He carries himself lightly and he has got a set of amazing rock-y anthems under his name… We both belong to the last generation of playback singers who can sing all kids of songs… When we sing a song, we blend into that genre. We don’t enforce our personalities into the song.”

KK: “We both have a certain chemistry between us. It’s often unspoken, but tangible to our audiences.”

On Shaan’s pet peeve with songs today

“Don’t be ambiguous when you sing. And learn to pronounce clearly and enunciate.”

On Anu Malik and Khailash Kher being outed as alleged sexual predators

Shaan: “I have never seen the predator side to him [Malik]. I have never felt that in front of me… He has never indulged in any locker room talk with me either. Even Khailash Kher, I have never seen him even belittle women… I am not saying it didn’t happen, but it never happened in front of me… I am not refuting the charges as the women know all about touch and eye-contact… I am absolutely aghast at all the stories coming out of the closet.”

KK: “It came as a shock to me. I feel disappointed and sad. They were professional people towards me… All I want to say is that people should stick to what they are here for and just sing. Believe in your art.”

On bad lyrics that are a constant fixture in today’s songs

Shaan: “There were always good and bad lyrics. We cannot generalise that it’s a trend of today’s times. Mediocrity exists in every era.”

On future plans

Shaan: “I am more proactive with creating music now. I am a composer’s son and I want to now compose music for a film, even if it’s a small project. Rather than plugging an item song into a film, I want to make a soundtrack for the whole film.”

KK: “The competition is tough and it’s difficult to get work… But I have this hunger for creating my own music now for my own albums… I feel I haven’t done enough and I hope I can channelise all that hunger in me toward creating work that is satisfying … My best is yet to come. I am laid-back. I work five days, but party hard for the next seven days.”

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Don’t miss it!

What: Salaam Dubai 2018 featuring Shaan and KK

When: Friday, November 9

Where: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Aviation Club

Time: 9pm (Gates open at 7pm)

Tickets: Start at Dh125

Contact: 055-6360333 or email info@oberoievents.com