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‘I want to create Harvard school of music’

| | in Sunday Pioneer
‘I want to create Harvard school of music’

Talktime |  Shankar Mahadevan

After encapsulating the emotions with subtle modulations in his songs Dil Dhadakne Do & Noor-E-Khuda, Mahadevan is all set to rock Bollywood and live music shows with a set of new songs. He talks to Sangeeta Yadav about the trend of live music festivals & his upcoming projects

What prompted you to perform live at Asean Music Festival?

I have been associated with the organiser, Sanjeev Bhargava, for 15 years. His vision and understanding of music and an attempt to bring together the international band for the Asean Music Festival is great. To organise a music festival which is non-Bollywood is a Herculean task. It’s difficult to get sponsors if you don’t have a Bollywood singer in the pipeline. The Asian bands, which are coming to perform at this festival, will not play filmi music or popular music or mainstream commercial music. They will be playing their kind of music which is really commendable. I am sure that the audience will have a great time.

There are many live festivals happening...

It is a great time for live music in India. I am glad that audiences are coming in today. It has come full-circle with people not just enjoying Bollywood music but also indie music, non-films music, experimental music, fusion music, world music, Western and classical music. Festivals are becoming bigger with the popularity of NH7, Sula Festival and classical and fusion music festivals. I wish we get sponsors easily even for festivals which are experimental music or non-filmy.

What is the best thing that has happened in the music industry?

The shift from film music to non-film music and the advent of YouTube. Filmi music has become stagnant. Even if a film has a good song, it is just a filler and all other tracks don’t reach out to the listeners. If you turn on the radio, the top 10 tracks are the same as the television top 10 which is the same as what you see on any music website. All sound the same. Somehow, good music never comes to the forefront.

What is the most difficult thing for you in live performances?

We have been composing songs for 21 years now and our problem is not what to perform but what not to perform. Half of the problem gets solved in deciding what not to do. It is a pleasure performing for the Delhi audience. I like to perform improvisational music even if it is a regular film song. I like to give a different interpretation of the same song when I perform live. I am able to change things and keep all the musicians on the edge of the seats as they don’t know who is coming and what arrangement I am going to change on the spur of the moment on stage.

Almost every Hindi GEC channel is running singing talent hunt shows.

Reality shows are a great platform to encourage new talent. They are the focal point for people who aspire to make a mark there in the music industry. You have a destination to dream of and work hard and be perseverant about what you are doing.

What is the reason behind many young singers getting to judge the singing reality shows?

That is completely channel’s decision. They look for somebody who is musically well-versed and has the  capability to pull it off. Somebody who has visual and aesthetic impact on the viewers.

What are your upcoming projects?

We are working on six movies including Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s Fanney Khan starring Priyanka Chopra, Shaad Ali’s Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi starring Alia Bhatt and Krish’s Manikarnika starring Kangana Ranaut. Along with the Shankar Mahadevan Academy, we have done a couple of series for Amazon and recently done a song for Kashmir, Water Cup Foundation of Aamir Khan, Rally Of River and Swachh Bharat initiative. We empower students to compose, write and sing melodies which talk about a good cause and social initiatives. It is the first academy in the world teaching Indian classical music online in 32 countries.

What is your vision for your academy?

I want to create a Harvard of music in India. I see to it that I do it. We are a country which has so much of diversity and depth in music and to reach out to the international level and give the international quality of music is my aim.




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