Javed Akhtar calls Shankar Mahadevan a ‘musical genius’

Javed Akhtar calls Shankar Mahadevan a ‘musical genius’

Mumbai (Uttam Hindu News): Famous lyricist Javed Akhtar said that “First of all I will say what I will say in the end also that Shankar Mahadevan is a musical genius. Reflecting on my journey with Shankar, it all started through my dear creative friend Imtiaz Dharkar.”

She said, “Imtiaz Dharkar approached me to write songs for her documentary focusing on the street children of Mumbai. She was aiming to capture his essence through a unique song rather than a traditional commentary. I happily agreed.”

“Under Imtiaz’s guidance I went to a studio to meet Ehsaan Noorani. Soon after this his friend Shankar Mahadevan arrived. It was a brief but decisive conversation. In a matter of minutes he composed a musical masterpiece that left a lasting impression on me.”

“Later I called Ehsaan and asked if he would be interested in composing music for films. He said he would come back, but never came back. Later I learned that he was so nervous that he couldn’t muster the courage to answer my call!”

“Despite this, I kept telling my producers about these exceptionally talented youngsters. “However, it is ironic that anything that is different faces resistance from the market.”

“Apart from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music, there was another idea, which I was trying to sell for about seven years. “Many singers and musicians found it interesting, entertaining and new.”

“One day, by chance, I met Shankar at Saregama and talked to him about music. He immediately agreed to help. We titled it ‘Breathless’.”

“Well, the music video of ‘Breathless’ marked the first directorial effort of Zoya and Farhan as they worked together in it. “That’s how two of my ‘perceptions’, not widely shared, came together and gave birth to ‘Breathless’.”

“Meanwhile, doors started opening for him in the industry. The versatility and range of this trio was evident in Farhan’s ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, Nikhil Advani’s ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Mission Kashmir’, proving them to be a force to be reckoned with.”

“Apart from being an excellent musician, Shankar is an extraordinary singer. The way he sings, most people can’t even speak with such ease. I have seen him in the recording studio sifting through stacks of papers for the second take of a song, which he casually proceeded to sing into the mic.”

This is also a memorable incident. Shankar was singing on the stage in a program when Yesudas arrived and sat in the front row. At that very moment the interval happened. Shankar came down the stairs to pay his respects by touching the feet of Yesudas with his cordless mic.

Javed said, “When he was returning, the interval ended and Shankar started singing ‘Sargam’ while climbing the stairs back on the stage. Singing is as easy for them as breathing is for you and me.”

“If I mention his work in films casually, it would be considered underestimating his talent. Shankar is a respected member of the highly respected international music group Shakti.”

“Being one of the busiest people with a jam-packed schedule, it is clear that he does not have time for any ‘Riyaaz’. However, I have seen him doing ‘Jugalbandi’ with maestros like Ustad Rashid Khan and it is really amazing.”

“I have known him for almost 30 years, yet he never ceases to amaze me. Artists are often associated with mood swings, carefree attitudes, and narcissism. But none of these ‘qualities’ were ever visible in him, not even from miles away.”

“During our entire association I never saw him get nervous, irritated, or praise me. But perhaps these very qualities make him a good friend, an ideal husband and a wonderful father. However, I must give equal credit to his wife Sangeeta and his sons Siddharth and Shivam, both of whom are exceptional singers.”

“Without any exaggeration, the Mahadevan family is the most united, loving and happy family I have seen in my life. Perhaps what keeps them even closer is that they are very fond of food.”

“Need I also tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Shankar and have often had good results? In addition to music and lyrics, over all these years we have shared millions of jokes and lots of vanilla ice cream! He is much younger than me. I not only love him but also respect him because he is a musical genius.”

(Javed Akhtar is a famous lyricist, he has written some of the biggest blockbusters of Hindi cinema along with Salim Khan. Excerpted from ‘The Musical Maverick: The Authorized Biography of Shankar Mahadevan’ by Ashish Ghatak, published by Rupa Publications)

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