You just can’t escape Baby Doll. The foot-tapping number from Ragini MMS 2 is the kind of wild, viral hit that is impossible to ignore. Like a bonafide Bollywood chartbuster, the song has helped push the fortunes of the horror-sex thriller produced by Ekta Kapoor. Incidentally, there’s something of a karmic connection that the Meet Bros (Manmeet and Harmeet Singh) share with the Balaji Telefilms head honcho.
Manmeet Singh’s break as an actor came when he bagged one of the leads in Kapoor’s Itihaas in 2000. It was after some dilemma, of having to choose between music and acting, that he went with the latter because it was less risky. He was getting there, with more offers and a meaty villainous role in Kapoor’s mother of all soaps, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Meanwhile, younger brother Harmeet, who shared similar aspirations, acted in Kkusum and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. (Also read: Sunny Leone wants to work with SRK, Salman)
Ten years later, the two would find themselves at Kapoor’s office as music composers for her film Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum (2012). By now, the brothers had formed a tag team with Anjjan Bhattacharya. With such a backstory, it is only apt that Meet Bros Anjjan’s career’s biggest hit came with Kapoor’s Baby Doll, picturised on Sunny Leone.
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“We would go to parties and feel bad when no one would play our songs. God must have wanted us to wait for this moment when Baby Doll is playing everywhere. A friend from my hometown Kanpur called and said that the song was a rage in all the Holi gatherings in the city,” says Anjjan, who joined the Meet Bros in 2007. “It is one of those songs where everything fell into place,” says Harmeet, minutes after an impromptu demonstration of the song that he describes as “a blend of London and Punjab”, designed to go with Leone’s image. “It is not just the ultra-modern sound, but also the rustic appeal that sets it apart from other party numbers,” he says.
It is fair to say that the heart of the song, indeed, is its most melodious part, namely the line Yeh duniya, yeh duniya pittal di. “Take it out of the song, and it is like a sad, folk tune,” says Anjjan. The 34-year-old met the brothers in an event in Kanpur. According to the UP-bred Bengali, while he brings his Hindustani classical roots to their sound, the brothers are his Western counterpart. “I think we were the first ones to try something like Gangsta rap here, with Aye bhai tune pappi kyun lee with Mika in 2007,” says Harmeet. The brothers’ world of music is largely pop, from Michael Jackson to RD Burman, with a special affinity for hip hop.
Baby Doll has changed the fortunes of Team Meet Bros Anjjan. Their phones are constantly ringing — the ringtone and the caller tunes are, unsurprisingly, the same song. This interview was delayed by over two hours because they were summoned for a music sitting with Salman Khan for a project. Pre-Baby Doll, they would spend time creating a bank of songs for the future that is finally here. “It is as if we were in a jungle from which we were not being able to find our way out. We took time to figure out what works best — it is either romantic or party songs,” says Manmeet.
Their other noticeable hits are Shirt da button (Kya Super Kool Hai Hum), Mere nishaan (Oh My God!), Pinky (Zanjeer), the Boss title track and Party toh banti hai from Bhoothnath Returns. “We prefer doing one song from a film because that keeps us everywhere,” says Manmeet, whose career took a transition when the brothers got signed by a music label for their first single Jogi Singh Barnala Singh, a joint composition from their days in The Scindia School, Gwalior. They quit acting after its success. If Baby Doll is any indication they are not going to rue their decision.