Two decades of Breathless

Did you know that it is 20 years since the release of the superhit song
Breathless
that flows in Shankar Mahadevan’s voice with lyrics penned by 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 singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan. “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.

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.

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.

In many roles

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. If someone tells me ‘I love to do it, but there is no time’ I insist it is an overtly non-passionistic syndrome, and showing your back towards your interests. It’s just an excuse for not being interested enough,” says Shankar, sampling his love for cooking too that he finds time for.

Value of grammar

Shankar is happy he flagged off his entry with classical streams as his foundation, as he claims ‘this initiation’ has helped him work with any form of music and rendition.

“One cannot have inflections of Carnatic or Hindustani flirting with film music,
bhaav geet, natya geet,
Tumri or ghazals! But the power of your database and vocabulary with classical idioms will help fashion your adaptability and flexibility, as your grammar gets strong. You can walk along genres with your voice texture and style of rendering altered suitably,” says Shankar.

My online academy is more for creating an eco-system in music, as I want to create an atmosphere of Harvard in India


The initiation

Shankar Mahadevan, born in Mumbai began playing the veena when he turned five. He learnt Hindustani under Shrinivas Khale and Carnatic from TR Balamani, both renowned teachers. The software engineering graduate turned to music to ‘follow his heart’ and now has the lineage grow with his sons Siddharth and Shivam performing with him.


Folk project

Talking about his latest offering, ‘My Country My Music’ Shankar says the folk-artists collaborative is a culturally rooted project garnered with native tunes sieved from the innards of pastoral beds of our country. “This will eventually be a CD. And as for its make-up, I wanted the rich and raw melodies to speak for our roots for, as they say,
Us Mitti Ki Khusboo
(the aroma emanating from the soil).


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