Air India’s Safety Mudras video: A fusion of music, dance, and safety measures

Shankar Mahadevan, who composed music for Air India’s inflight Safety Mudras video, says this could be a trend in the airline industry

February 28, 2024 07:05 pm | Updated 08:15 pm IST

Shankar Mahadevan

Shankar Mahadevan | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

The Air India inflight Safety Mudras video recently gained immense popularity among netizens for its innovative approach to conveying flight safety instructions.

Developed in collaboration with Prasoon Joshi of McCann Worldgroup India, along with Shankar Mahadevan and Bharatbala, the video integrates eight diverse dance forms — Bharatanatyam, Bihu, Kathak, Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, Ghoomar, and Giddha — from various regions of India.

Speaking to us en route to Mumbai from Coimbatore, Shankar says, “The whole idea of using the mudras of Indian dance forms for a safety video was initially by Prasoon Joshi, and I was anyway doing the theme music for the launch of the revised Air India. Bharat Bala, who’s a dear friend, directed the video. Each state in our country has its own unique dance form, and we decided to use multiple musical genres. By incorporating these dance forms and musical genres, we aimed to interpret safety features through an engaging musical and dance narrative.”

Inspired by diversity

Shankar’s approach to composing a piece effectively communicating safety instructions while engaging and memorable was rooted in India’s vast cultural diversity. “When an air hostess demonstrates safety measures, there’s a lot of hand movement in her act. So this video adds a creative element to the typically routine safety procedures,” he says.

While the project posed unique challenges compared to his other musical endeavours, Shankar navigated the task with finesse, balancing the seriousness of safety instructions with the artistic expression inherent in music and dance. He says, “It was not just a song. We are conveying important, serious content to the listener and the viewer. The challenge was maintaining the sanctity, seriousness and magnitude of the issue we are discussing, combined with music and dance.”

For Shankar, the collaboration with Air India was more than just a musical project; it was an opportunity to align with the airline’s brand ethos, which is rooted in Indian heritage and culture. “The music and dance elements in the video resonate strongly with the airline’s identity, evoking a sense of patriotism and pride among passengers,” he says.

Setting a trend

Looking ahead, Shankar sees the potential for incorporating music into safety demonstrations as a trend in the airline industry. “By leveraging the power of music and dance, airlines can transform mundane safety procedures into memorable experiences that capture passengers’ attention effectively, “ he says.

Reflecting on his own behaviour as a passenger, Shankar acknowledges his tendency to get distracted during safety demonstrations. However, he believes a visually rich and musical presentation will get attention, ensuring that passengers absorb vital safety information while enjoying the experience.

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