Dance

Music is better with a classical database, says Shankar Mahadevan

Did you know that it is 20 years since the release of the super hit song ‘Breathless’ that flows in Shankar Mahadevan’s voice with lyrics penned by the reputed Javed Akhtar? The album had streamed along verses non-stop for three minutes that went wildly viral, earning an iconic status. It was arguably seen as another branch to Hindi-rap. “It’s a blessing. Even after two decades, my fans are still expecting a sequel or follow-up,” says playback star and composer Shankar Mahadevan who was in the city last weekend. “I may either think of putting together Part A & B of the Breathless Reprise that actually ends on a high melancholic note for bringing out an updated serpentine version, or create a new ‘Breathless’ with Javed saab and the whole team coming together again!” he says. Shankar Mahadevan was visiting Bengaluru as part of his online school Shankar Mahadevan Academy’s student-teacher interactive, ‘Sangam,’ and for the Gurukripa Awards where the Academy recognises well-known music teachers for their back-stage effort in moulding musicians.

Surrounded by an impenetrable ring of selfie-obsessed fans and students, Shankar, at once modest with no star-like airs, is seen reaching out to most. “This Academy is an extension of my persona,” he says. “As much as I love every aspect of music I deal with, my obsession for providing a learning platform to seekers and see talent grow is seen as the support system nurtured here with teachers and administrators. I am grateful to my classmate, friend and co-founder Sridhar Ranganathan, as “our online classes go on 24/7 in 72 countries across the globe making a difference to connoisseurs who want music learning at their convenience. We have 250 kinds of courses offered,” says Shankar.

Adding more to his ‘search’ for talent, Shankar is happy that his Academy has also been one of the earliest to form a ‘Joyful Choir,’ a platform offered to special students, a few months back, to be part of a choir. “Talent is abundant in all forms of art in our country, and all it takes is to tap the potential in the right way. It is rewarding to have special children breaking out of their cocoons and see them being part of a new world,’ he says.

Talk of his intrinsic role in Kannada playback and he says, “Kannada is such a complete and sweet language with poetic idioms lapping up the evocative flow,” says Shankar. He fondly reminisces the earliest offers he received from the maverick music man Hamsalekha even as the song ‘Mahaprana Deepam’ turned out to be his launch-pad to the Kannada industry. “The hundreds of songs that I have sung for music composers in Sandalwood and independent albums from then on are aural treats. I am overjoyed to be working with intellects as Harikrishna, V Gurukiran, Anoop Seelin, Mano Murthy amongst others. And who can forget the more recent lilting number emerging in creative layers, “Mukunda Murare” song of Arjun Janya?” he says.

Coming to his role as a composer as part of his Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (SEL) team he says his latest work for ‘Soorma,’ Shaad Ali’s biopic on hockey player Sandeep Singh left him with a realisation that “every composer has to have a special mind and eye for the script.”

This narrative is a true story, and the music had to relate to the mass medium to capture the emotive flow.

“It’s a thin line to tread between arty rendering and mass appeal,” and one has to put in hours of home work with one’s team. Combating cross-currents in thinking or tackling cross-section of views to arrive at a commonality is where one ‘channelises’ creative thinking and shrugging one’s ego,” says Shankar.

As for being a man of several avatars and dabbling full-fledged in chart busters for playback, collaborating with world genres, running a school, judging reality shows, Shankar shrugs saying, “It’s just following the path of commitment and passion.”

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 9:12:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/music-is-better-with-a-classical-database/article24435463.ece

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