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BROTHERS Ankit and Sanchit Balhara, who recently scooped the best background score award for the blockbuster movie Padmaavat at the Radio Mirchi Awards in India, have strong links to Fiji.
The duo’s professional resume also includes composing background scores for movies like Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, Bajirao Mastani, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Singh Saab the Great, and Loveyatri.
They were also rewarded for their work in 2015’s Bajirao Mastani with the IIFA, Zee Cine, Radio Mirchi and Gima Awards.
The duo are the nephews of former Fiji Football international Ronald Chaudhry.
In an interview, the elder brother Ankit, who resides in Canada, said that his great grandmother Raj Kumari was born to Mr Ram Nath Chaudhary (originally from Haryana)and his wife Jai Kaliya, in Fiji during the indentured labour system and stayed with her family before returning to India. Her brother Ram Gopal later returned to Fiji while the other sibling Gopal Krishna had not left Fiji in the first place.
Despite the geographic distance between the two countries, Ankit stated that his family remained in contact with the other families in Fiji and that his mum Mukta Chaudhry, who is a famous Haryana state athlete, had not lost touch with the loved ones abroad.
Ankit said he is keen to visit the friendly islands soon.
“I would like to visit Fiji in the near future,” he said
“I have never been there, I would like to go there. Any knowledge of Fiji that I have is through my family and especially through my uncle (Ronald Chaudhry). I see them talking to each other and see that their culture is slightly different from the Indian culture and I would like to experience that.”
Ankit said his dad, Bhal Singh, who is a well-known North Indian state Haryana based singer and movie director, inspired the brother duo to take up music.
“My dad was a popular singer in Haryana as he sang for 20 to 25 Bollywood and regional films, so we had a music environment. When I was two or three, I started singing. I performed the first ever song in front of the whole school when I was in kindergarten. So that’s when it started. After school, my brother and I would sing or compose on our own and later, I started going to singing competitions. The first year of my college, I auditioned for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and I got selected. So I went to Mumbai and went up to the finals. After that I came back to complete my software engineering degree,” Ankit said.
“My brother Sanchit Balhara was a very promising tennis player and featured in some international competitions but due to an injury, he had to quit the sport. He later decided to go to London and took up music production and sound engineering.”
Upon completing his education, Ankit headed to the famous acting school—The Stella Adler Studio of Acting. After a year, he was approached for a Haryana based movie Tera Mera Vaada which was directed by his dad while his brother Sanchit Balhara composed the music.
The return of Sanchit from London inspired the duo to explore the background music industry and thus, presented their work to various Bollywood creatives.
“My brother returned to India in 2013. And that's when we started sending our work. We did Ram Leela and Singh Saab the Great and few films and then we met Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali (movie director, producer). He listened to our music and asked us to compose something. It took us a few weeks to prepare 30 tunes before one of them was finalized as the main Bajirao Mastani theme, which became so popular that we won IIFA, Zee Cine, Radio Mirchi and Gima awards. Then after Bajirao, we started working on Padmaavat. It took two years to complete the score. We were roped in early. Sanjay sir was blown by the tunes which were recorded even before a scene of the movie was shot,” he said.
Their mum Mukta, who is also a former Haryana State athlete, added that their Fijian roots hold a special place in their hearts.