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A heart attack in December last year hasn’t slowed Bollywood singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan. Since then he has been working on big movie projects, expanding his global music-academy project, and touring with his sons, Siddharth and Shivam.

Tomorrow, the 49-year-old classically trained playback singer will take to the stage in Dubai alongside his boys at Songs of Krishna, a show at the Sheikh Rashid Auditorium featuring a fusion of Indian beats and international sounds.
Mahadevan’s oldest son Siddharth, 23, has made it to the top of a new crop of Bollywood singers with hits such as Zinda, from the Indian biographical sports drama Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and Pehli Baar, from comedy drama Dil Dhadakne Do. Fifteen-year-old Shivam, meanwhile, had his big break in Yash Raj’s Dhoom 3 (2013) with Bande Hain Hum Uske.

Their proud father, who put his heart attack down to his “erratic work schedule”, and is part of India’s National Award-winning composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, shares his thoughts on bringing several musical cultures to one stage and setting up his academy in Dubai.
What can fans expect from the Songs of Krishna show?

What fascinates me about Hindu culture is that Krishna is a god present everywhere, even in all the diversity we find in India. All over India, in different cultures, he is present as Balagopala, Govinda, Lord Balaji or Guruvayurappan. In fact, Krishna is an internationally recognised figure. Even musically, these different cultures depict various aspects of Krishna. So the show is going to bring it all together, using Krishna as an iconic figure from India. On stage you will hear South Indian classical, thumri, bhajans, abhangs, Sufi, Rajasthani and Gujarati folk, as well as jazz and rock.

What compositions will we get to hear?

It is going to be a two-hour show with a lot of extempore versions and pieces that can range from three minutes to 15 minutes. Siddharth will be representing the broader aspect of Krishna, so there will be a jazz piece that I have composed with renowned guitarist Sanjay Divecha. There is also a rock song that Siddharth has fully composed. Shivam will be representing Bal Krishna [young Krishna] with the song Maine Makhan Khaayo, a beautiful song composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar in Marathi.

Do you remember the feeling of performing with your sons for the first time?

Sidharth has got his own identity now – his songs have become popular, and he has his own shows. I consider myself one of the blessed parents who can go on stage and sing songs sung by my son. These are things that don’t normally happen to people – I am one of those lucky ones. Shivam started singing when he was very young, about 6 years old, on a Krishna show. He has sung in Dhoom 3 and a Marathi film. So, music has been a growing process in our family. They are also part of my musical journey.

Did you insist they get classical training if they wanted to pursue this career?

I do not insist on anything. I think you have to let the children be what they want to be because, if you insist, they will rebel. So I never, ever insisted on them becoming musicians. It so happens that, naturally, they are doing music 10 hours a day – it just happened that way. Shivam was learning from Saili Kalyanpur. My elder son is a self-taught guy. He plays the keyboard, he programs and composes a lot. He also went to Berklee [College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts] and trained there.

Did your health issues make you reassess your workload?

I am absolutely fine now, they had detected some blocks in the arteries and they have sorted that out. The issue was my erratic work schedule. I am living healthy and eating healthy, planning things better and being a little choosy with what I want to do.

Tell us a little bit about the Shankar Mahadevan Music Academy.

This is a five-year-old academy and we are very proud to say that we have a presence in 66 countries and tie-ups with 25 schools in India. I feel music should be an integral part of the school curriculum. We are setting up a strong base in Dubai because a lot of students come from this region. We are going to have representatives in Dubai to take the vision of the academy ahead. We will be coming to your doorstep to teach children.

What Bollywood films are you working on this year?

We have Mirzya, plus Rock On 2, a big Yash Raj film, and a lot of new performances. I am planning a whole digital platform for non-film music, which I plan to collaborate with many artists for as well.


Krishna, Kanhaiya, Govind, Gopal, Nandlal, Brijesh, Kanhaa… As the name suggests, Krishna is an endeavour to create harmony and a blissful environment of peace amidst this present-day scenario of unrest, turmoil and stress. In build-up to the Janmashtami celebrations, composer-vocalist Shankar Mahadevan will take to the stage to regale both music connoisseurs and Krishna devotees with devotional compositions at a special concert by Banyan Tree.

Speaking of his Saturday concert, the star performer who has enthralled audiences with the magic of his captivating voice for over a decade now, creating a huge fan following across the globe, told dna, “We will feature a unique presentation of some specially created compositions on the theme of Krishna — The Source of Eternal Inspiration. I am hoping the deeply devotional songs will surely work magic to create the feeling of tremendous joy as well as inner calm and bliss.”

Mahadevan spoke of being attracted to the spiritual side to Krishna. “There is the playful child and the lover, but there is also the one who dispenses wisdom during the Mahabharata to Arjun in the form of the Gita.”

He will be accompanied by a group of very talented musicians on tabla, guitar and keyboard. And for the very first time, both his sons Siddhartha and Shivam will also join him for select songs. Not only is the line-up going to include traditional bhajans and Carnatic compositions, but it will also have qawwalis, thumris, abhangs as well as jazz and rock elements.

Mahesh Babu of Banyan Tree said, “We are privileged to present Krishna with focus on a creative theme to the connoisseurs and music lovers of Mumbai. Krishna as a creative theme seems like a common thread across the country beyond the boundaries of language, caste and even religion. We hope this endeavour will drench souls and minds of music lovers in devotion, inspiration, peace and bliss and help them rejoice in the rich cultural glory of India on the special occasion of Krishna Janmashtami.”


Collateral Materials

  1.  Poster 11 x17, Shankar Mahadevan concert  



Shankar Mahadevan (born 3 March 1967) is an award-winning composer and playback singer who is part of the Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy composing trio team for many Indian films. He is a four-time winner of the National Award: three times for Best Male Playback Singer and once for Best Music Director. Tamil Iyer family from Palakad, Kerala. Shankar Mahadeven learned Hindustani Classical Music in his childhood and began playing Veena at the age of five. The spectacular musician is the recipient of numerous Awards including four National Awards. He is the part of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy music trio who have composed music for many Indian films and Shankar Mahadevan is the founder of Shankar Mahadevan Academy that provides online music lessons in Indian music to students worldwide.
The playback singer/composer is well versed in five languages Tamil, Hindi, Marathi, Urudu and English. The song Enna solapogirai from a Tamil film Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000) got him the first National Award under Best Male Playback Singer category. Every  four years from then on, he received one National Award till 2012.  The song Bolo na from the Hindi movie Chittagong (2012) got him a National Award recently.
Shankar Mahadeven has worked with all the popular music directors in India including Illayaraja, A.R.Rahman, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Harris Jayaraj and the current young rock star Anirudh Ravichandar. He performs in various prominent concerts happening all around the world. Do check out this page for more updates about Shankar Mahadevan’s events in US.