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Shankar on song, breathes music

TWO MUCH: Shankar Mahadevan is passionate about his work. — Photo: S. Subramanium

TWO MUCH: Shankar Mahadevan is passionate about his work. — Photo: S. Subramanium  

The `Breathless' man, Shankar Mahadevan, a trained singer and a frank human being, counts his blessings, joins hands with Javed Akhtar and comes up with "Nine".

EVER HEARD a novice announcing his arrival with self-praising phrases as Kuch Khaas Hai and Yehi Hai Right Choice, Baby! But Shankar Mahadevan did it and that too with such success that he didn't have to take the arduous route that other neophytes have to cover to earn a place under the sun. Since then, Pepsi may have hit lows but Shankar's career is breathlessly jingling forward with pauses just to bask in new glories. Enjoying one such recess after Nine - his latest album with another busy bee Javed Akhtar, Shankar says, "a private album is an open canvas for us to paint the way we like it unlike films, where the director's wish and the demand of script is the prime consideration. The album has nine songs each devoted to a particular emotion as love, sorrow, jealousy, passion and the like. The last song, which we have called jazbaat is a culmination of all possible sentiments."

The joy number O Saahiba is already making waves on channels with video directed by Shaad Ali of Saathiya fame. However, Shankar terms the importance of video as just one-fourth of the quality of the verse. "The need of the video is just to establish the song amid the heap. After that the lyrics and the music have to fend for themselves."

Trained in Hindustani and Carnatic classical, Shankar's association with Javed Akhtar started incidentally, when he was just three. "The first song I played on harmonium was Chal Chal Chal Mere Haathi from Haathi Mere Saathi scripted by Javed Sahib. I did my first album Breathless with him and it was a success. It multiplied with Dil Chahta Hai. In spite of the age difference we have a chemistry that binds us. Albums are creative outlets, where we can experiment. We are working together in Kuch Na Kaho and Lakshya."

Few people know that the versatile Shankar started his career with a ghazal for Muhafiz and teams up with Zakir Hussain for Shakti, Sivamani and Louis Banks for Silk and four Swedes and Taufiq Quershi for Mynta to do shows across the world.

"I listened a lot to Bade Ghulam Ali Khan to perfect my inflections in Urdu. As far as groups are concerned, they satisfy my jazzy urge. You, know, I breathe music."

The portly bundle of energy is so passionate about his work that in the midst of the chat he enquires about the shoot of the songs of Karan Johar's Nikhil Advani-directed Kal Ho Na Ho.

"How is Karan? How did the shoot go? Please send us some reels so that we can start working on background music." Background music? "Yes, the film industry has come of age as far as background score is concerned, courtesy, the new crop of filmmakers. Directors like Karan, Sameer Karnik and Farhan Akhtar understand that background is much more than a filler. Even oldies are realising the weight of silence. In Mission Kashmir we used the folk element to lift the storyline."

But now everybody is expecting deja vu from the music director after the success of Dil Chahta Hai and Kuch Na Kaho is not appearing a match as of now. "See, every film has its own requirements so there is no point in repeating oneself. When Dil Chahta Hai was released, people predicted that its music would not be heard beyond the posh Malabar Hills area of Mumbai. Kuch Na Kaho will also belie such prophecy."

One has to believe as Shankar is on song.

ANUJ KUMAR

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