‘Madari,’ from Coke Studio @ MTV India, Season 2 has been a runaway success. Little wonder, it seems difficult to talk about anything other than a song that has come to define composer and musician Clinton Cerejo. We caught up with Cerejo to talk about Madari and more:

First up, I’m going to ask you about the success of ‘Madari’ off your Coke Studio episode in 2012. Did you, or anyone else involved, really see the virality or the success of it coming the way it did?

Actually ‘Madari’ was a complete surprise not only to me, but to my band and everyone at MTV as well. In fact Vishal (Dadlani) himself was a bit skeptical at first when he heard the song as it’s not a typical song that he would sing. In fact I remember he loved ‘Saathi Salaam’ from the same episode and we all thought ‘Saathi Salaam’ would be that runaway hit in the episode. Nobody anticipated that ‘Madari’ would take off like a rocket. But it went on to become the face of Coke Studio in India, in a sense.

Most other songs in your episode are equally well rounded and diverse, but what was it about ‘Madari’ that you think worked with the audiences, and for you as well, personally?

I think it’s that intangible magic that happens when all the elements in a song just work. Manoj Yadav just brought such depth to the lyrics, Vishal just rendered that song smashingly too and when Sonu came in on that ad-lib section it just gave everybody on the set goosebumps. The mix that Stephen Fitzmaurice did was crazy too, and definitely contributed to giving it that wow factor.

Comment sections are amazing on the Internet - a place that can be as vile as beautiful. Taking from that, many suggest that perhaps you could have picked different singers, but personally both Vishal Dadlani and Sonu Kakkar seem like a perfect fit. What led you to make those choices?

Vishal has always been a favourite for obvious reasons. He’s sung on so many of my projects and I’ve worked on so many of his films and we’ve always had a great vibe. Sonu was actually a suggestion by Manoj Yadav, the lyricist, as I’d never worked with her before. Even though the song was composed I still felt it had one element missing and when Sonu came in for the rehearsal and started improvising I knew the song was finally complete.

What was really nice to see with Coke Studio, and not just ‘Madari’ was that commenters on the Internet took to noticing the instrumentalists and musicians on the episode, Do you, in some way, believe that Coke Studio helped bring to light the musicianship and not just the composer involved in producing a song?

Absolutely! The instrumentalists, the producer and every musical contribution in a song have value and it’s sad that with the demise of the CD we’ve lost the ability to open the album sleeve and appreciate the credits and everyone involved. Platforms like Coke Studio help in a big way because instead of having actors gyrating pointlessly at least you can visually see the musicians involved in the creation of the song. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

A couple of years later, Coke Studio even produced a music video for the song and that added more fuel to the fire that ‘Madari’ had sparked - what was your take on the entire music video?

I thought the video was interesting although I’m not really sure the song really required a music video. The comments on the video reflected that in a way. The fans wanted their favourite song to be left alone.

Any particular funny/peculiar incidents you can recall that you’ve been involved in because of the success of ‘Madari?’ I recall being on tour with Pentagram and Vishal being constantly pestered for ‘Madari,' where he was initially irritated, but eventually softened up to thank you for the opportunity, and said that he wouldn’t perform the song without you!

Vishal has always been pestered about ‘Madari,’ and now he regularly performs it at his shows. I’ve even received really endearing videos of babies singing the words ‘Madari’ when they can barely speak.

I recall watching Ananthaal perform at the NH7 Weekender a couple of years ago, and there was a constant buzz around when ‘Madari’ would drop. What is the difference in reactions from fans, for you, when performing the song at different settings - such as a multi-genre music festival like the NH7 Weekender, against public shows like the Kala Ghoda Festival or colleges?

I’ve always closed my gigs with ‘Madari’ and the crowd always goes mad.  I mean it’s a brilliant song and I love it but sometimes I wish people would move on from ‘Madari.’ I’ve written a lot of other music that I’m very proud of, whether it is for Coke Studio or even for films like Jugni, Teen, Kahaani 2 and 3 Storeys. I’d like to be known for a wider body of work and it’s finally happening because I’m doing more live gigs and bringing my music to a lot more people.