Surina Sayal
Who's that

Who's That – Sameer Uddin: Hyperactive

Born into a musically-inclined family in Delhi (his mother is a classical performer and father, a theatre artist), Sameer was exposed to melodies and composition from a young age

Born into a musically-inclined family in Delhi (his mother is a classical performer and father, a theatre artist), Sameer was exposed to melodies and composition from a young age. But it was his uncle who realised that Sameer had a knack for music when, still a tween, he played a tune on the tabla after hearing it just once. This led to tabla lessons.

In college, Sameer swapped the tabla for a guitar "because that was cooler then, and I didn't want to be called a 'tabalchi'," he laughs. Sameer went on to play the bass guitar in a heavy metal band (Every Mother's Nightmare), playing covers from bands like Metallica, Megadeth and others. His first creation outside his band, though non-commercial, was for a cookery show on Home TV. In August 1999, he got his first taste of composing for ads when Jeevan Singh of the films department at O&M asked him to create a tune for a Duracell ad, the agency was working on.

Who's That – Sameer Uddin: Hyperactive
But Sameer believes that his first big break in ad films was when he composed the score for a Honda City commercial being produced by Kaveri Productions. The production house managed to convince the client to let a fairly new composer work on the ad. "It was something the Japanese don't do often," points out Sameer. Kaveri Productions is where he met some of his closest friends and Neha, who would become his wife. Some of his close friends and mentors include Binoy Mitra of Kaveri Productions, Shoojit Sircar and Vinod P Vijay of Red Ice Films, Harsh Dave of Film Farm, Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures, Ayyappa of Footcandles.

A few years later, he moved to Mumbai with his wife (his brother runs a school in Himachal in memory of their brother Captain Hanif who lost his life in the 1999 Kargil War) and jumped headlong into work. The ad projects he's enjoyed most include the latest Parle Lite ad with the floating Sumo wrestlers and the ballerina, the Honda City ad and one for Sri Lanka Tourism, where he spent time in the country understanding their music style and applying it to the ad.

Movies weren't far away. He worked on creating background scores for films like Yahaan, Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina, Bluffmaster, Pyaar ke Side Effects and Aloo Chaat. However, ad films are his first love. Ask him why and he says, "It's my sanctuary really for many reasons. Firstly, my mind is always in hyper drive, I love doing many things, so ads let me move from one genre of music to another. One day I might be working on an Indian tune, another day a thrash metal sound like one we created for Titan Octane to a medley tune like Parle Lite's."

(Who's that? is an effort to highlight the lesser known talents from the advertising, media and marketing industry.)