Dad is the greatest mentor, says Shankar Mahadevan’s eldest son Siddharth Mahadevan

It will be a family outing at this year’s Global Indian Music Academy (GiMA) awards for Shankar Mahadevan and family. He is not only one of the jury members but has also been nominated in one of the categories. But that should not come as a surprise to anyone. However, his two sons Siddharth and Shivam Mahadevan have also received nominations in the best debut category.

Nineteen-year-old Siddharth is not a stranger to the musical world. Learning music from a young age, he says he never had to decide whether he will make a career out of music. Aware of his father’s legacy and the comparisons and expectations that comes along with it; he says none of that intimidates him. “I know the benchmark is really high. But it also drives me to work hard and create an identity of my own and not continue with what my dad is doing,” he says.

Nominated for the song Tu Hi Hain from the album ‘Ganaraj Adhiraj’ composed by Gulraj Singh, he says it was a phenomenal experience. His younger brother has also sung a song for the album and has been nominated in the same category. Siddharth along with his cousin Soumil Shringarpure have composed numerous jingles and sound tracks for television serials. They have just wrapped up work for Deepa Mehta’s film which is an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s book Midnight’s Children. He describes it as a game not work.

Whether it’s heavy metal, country, jazz, thumri, Siddharth Mahadevan says, “My dad always said ‘listen to good music that is the greatest teacher’.” Calling his dad a great mentor, his word is final on most of his songs. “My dad has never helped with composing. After we have worked on our songs, we always ask him whether it’s working or not. If he says it’s not then we change it. It doesn’t really matter then what anybody else is saying,” he says.

Father’s word

Calling someone and getting to hear a Shankar Mahadevan song as their caller tune is not strange. But it is strange when you call the man and hear his voice boom a “Yes?” With numerous awards under his belt, he says it is odd to be a jury member and a nominee. However, as a father it is a proud moment for him. “I am proud of my kids. I couldn’t believe it but they have worked hard,” he says, adding, “But I always tell them to ‘See to it that these things don’t go to your head. You have a long way to go. To sustain and become a musician of a certain calibre, you need to know and understand music completely. You need to have a good taste in music and should know your good music from mediocre ones.”

The singer-music director also recently launched the Shankar Mahadevan Academy which is a virtual music academy. “Often we see people unable to learn music because of a lack of time and space. But the online academy can be accessed from 30 countries and one can learn music extensively online,” he says.

He believes that the music industry is currently buzzing with young talents and new sounds. “Don’t run after shows and money. Invest in music and expand their musical vocabulary. You have to be become the musician who can’t be replaced,” is his advice to up and coming musicians.