BENGALURU: Musician Shankar Mahadevan has recently launched his new project My Country My Music. With the mix of eight languages, the project showcases different cultural aspects of the country.
In a chat with the City Express, Mahadevan shares about his musical journey and collaboration with the popular Berklee Indian Ensemble. Excerpts:
How are you addressing the diversity in Indian culture in your project My Country, My Music?
I have worked with several regional languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malyalam and Marathi. I used to wonder how do I bring all these languages, musical genres together and different scenarios in one show. There is not even a single show in the country which encapsulates all the art forms of music, folk songs, Bollywood songs, all put together. Hence, I decided to device this show. Then I collaborated with some masters of folk music from different states and presented them on one stage. The basic foundation of the show is contemporary and modern.
Any memorable experience, you’d like to share about the show?
So many things… For example, there is this Kerala boat race that I carry on stage. It is a two and a half minute piece. We chant on stage and everyone joins us. The tempo increases and I feel that it gives the experience of being in Kerala.
Did you face any challenges while working on the project?
It is a very arty kind of thing, so the challenge is to keep it niche at the same time keep make it mainstream commercial. We performed at a concert where the age group of the audience was 15 to 24. I was successful there because they understood and enjoyed the beats. Till the end, they were all dancing, singing and clapping. It was a highly entertaining show. The challenge we overcame was on how to present this to an audience that takes to mainstream music more.
How did the collaboration with Berklee College of Music happen?
My academy, Shankar Mahadevan academy is collaborating with Berklee College of Music to cross promote our music in other countries. Every year, the Berklee Indian Ensemble have musicians from India and other countries like UK, US, Australia, Iran, Israel and Palestine.
They then call one special artist to collaborate. They prepare a two-hour presentation of that artist. They said they wanted to work with me. They have researched on what have I done in my career, be it classical, semi classical, Tamil, Marathi or Hindi music. They made a list and practised for about four months. They’ve arranged it, re-harmonised it and then they invited me to perform with them.
How important do you think are such cultural exchange programmes in music?
If you are coming to this planet with the blessing of music, you have got a responsibility beyond just making money. You should be proud in spreading this music to the rest of the world.