‘Folk remains unexplored,’ says Shankar Mahadevan


Shankar Mahadevan talks to Sangeeta Yadav about his dream to innovate folk music with classical singers, go on a world tour with his sons and be with emerging talent and reality shows on TV

He’s had the entire nation crying with numbers like Meri maa (Taare Zameen Par), and dancing to songs like Desi girl (Dostana). At 49, singer Shankar Mahadevan tells you that his bucketlist is not full yet and there is still so much he wants to do. One such to-dos is to work with classical singers.

“I have sung for superstars and composed for big budget films. I have done world tours and collaborated with amazing people from the industry. But there is still so much more to do like folk music which is an unexplored treasure. We can do wonders with the variety of classical singers we have and folk music genres. This is nothing to do with getting awards or achievements. The focus now is to innovate with the folk artists. We breathe from only one set of the lungs, the music that has been exposed to the people, has been cut to only one set of expectation. I want to work towards the other side and see what can be done without being superficial about it,” Mahadevan says.

After his tryst with singing talent hunt shows like Singing Ka Mukabla and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Mahadevan was missing from the judge’s seat for quite some time. He is back now with The Rising Stars on Colors.

“Unfortunately, the last show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa didn’t work for me because of many reasons. I was looking for something different and then The Rising Stars came. The format is pathbreaking and I immediately I grabbed this opportunity. Nobody has every seen and done anything like this before in Asia. It’s going to be live on TV, giving power to the audience to interact with there favourite contestants and vote directly through their mobile app is something that has not been done before,” Mahadevan says.

Judging a talent hunt show is no cakewalk and Mahadevan likes to be genuine and not exaggerate or dramatise a situation. “You can’t fool the audience by being dramatic and fighting with the contestants or getting angry on the show. Emotion gets communicated to the audience very easily. One doesn’t need to put on an act,” he says.

Though the new talent is incredible, Mahadevan feels that they require right direction to come into the limelight and make a successful career. “The new talent is amazing. What inspires you to work towards excellence in that field of art is to see a destination or aim to achieve your dream — to be seen on TV shows or sing for films. There has be a focal point otherwise the young talent will not know what to do and whom to go to to be heard. There are so much talent out there but these people don’t know how to go about establishing themselves. Reality shows give them a platform. It’s not  about winning it but to be known on first name basis by the biggest music director in the country,” Mahadevan tells you.

He also tells that just because one doesn’t get to hear what winners of previous music reality shows are doing doesn’t mean that they are lost in obscurity. “Just because they are not front-runners doesn’t mean they are lost. They are quite active doing other things. They work and have a career. They are travelling through the year giving live performances, they are busy. Just because they are not singing for Bollywood doesn’t mean that their talent is lost or their career as a singer has ended. If you are truly talented and have substance and confidence, you are there to stay for a long time. But it is also true that everybody can’t become a Arijit Singh, Shreya Ghoshal or Sunidhi Chauhan. For that  you also require blessing from the Almighty,” he opines.

The second on his list is to go on  tour with his sons. “In May, Sidharth, Shivam and I are going on a world tour. This tour will be followed by album,” Mahadevan says adding that the good part is that he is more of a friend than a father to his children and they are the one who apprise him of the latest trends in music.

“I’ve always been their friend but never a guru.They are the ones who let me know the latest songs in music and trends. I know they look up to me but I don’t take advantage of it by behaving like their guru or a mentor. I never pushed them for anything not even to do riyaz.

“Everything happened subconsciously and both have imbibed their love for music from me. The best way to teach your children is to be compassionate. Other things will fall in place automatically,” Mahadevan says.

(The article also got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/folk-remains-unexplored.html).


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