BENGALURU: The friendship between singers, Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan is evident. Their energy and camaraderie together is infectious. The two were in the city for the Guru Kripa Awards given out by the Shankar Mahadevan Academy that celebrate the contribution of music gurus. The event honoured Hariharan’s mother Shrimati Alamelu with Hariharan as the chief guest.
Remembering Bengaluru, Hariharan who lived here for two years tells CE about how his two children joined a school in the city when their school in Mumbai shut down all of a sudden. “We were in London for holiday. We got our sons admissions in Bengaluru. Within 15 days, we searched and got a house on rent and we became Bengalureans. This was in 2003,” he says. He also worked in a company in Kumbalgodu on the outskirts of Bengaluru in 1974. “Sometimes, I feel the boom here has spoiled the charm of the city. I used to go to MTR. There were some Punjabi food joints in Brigade Road,” he says. Excerpts:
Who are your favourite Bollywood singers?
Hariharan: Shankar is one of my favourites.
Shankar: Hariharan is one of my favourites.
Which are your favourite Kannada songs?
Shankar: I sang the title song for Mukunda Murari. The problem is that we have not been able to watch these films. We sing a song and later, we get to know it’s a hit. Then, we learn the song again for a show.
Hariharan: It’s an old one... a song from the film My Autograph.
Is singing in other languages difficult?
Hariharan: Singing a language is easier than talking a language. The music composer works so hard. They put right swaras to right words. And, once, you understand that and get the mood of the song, it’s not difficult.
Shankar: When we sing Kannada songs, you wouldn’t know that we are non-Kanndigas but the moment, we open our mouth and speak one line, you will get to know that we are non-Kannadigas. (laughs)
Which has been the toughest song/composition?
Hariharan: It is very difficult to say. Musically, he (Shankar) takes about 30 minutes to sing a song. I take about 45 minutes (laughs). When you are singing in other languages, we have supervisors and sometimes, they are tough and hence, the song gets tough.
Shankar: Of all, Kannada and Telugu are the easiest languages. Kannada is a very sweet language. If we write in Devanagari script perfectly, you can do it well. But, Malayalam is the toughest language... my God! You die.
How has the journey been so far?
Shankar: For us, film music is one path in our journey, it’s not everything. The journey has been amazing.
When I was in college, I used to watch him perform. He’s someone I have always looked up to. Luckily, I got in touch with him and we became close friends and now, neighbours. He had a farm house in Karjat. There was a plot next to it which was vacant. He immediately called and asked if I would be interested in the property and I bought it. So, we are just one wall apart. We share lots of interests.
Hariharan: We are also both foodies. We enjoy great music. Both of us are open to any kind of music. We aspire to be global musicians and to certain extent, we have achieved that.
Do you see golden era of music coming back?
Shankar: Let’s see after 50 years, ‘Tu hi re’ and Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyaara Hai will be golden era songs.
Hariharan: Lot of good songs become popular because they are played 20 to 30 times a day on a radio channel. You feel aajkal kuch gadbad hai.
It’s been a while since we have seen Colonial Cousins?
Hariharan: Colonial Cousins will be releasing a single soon. I am also releasing a ghazal song. I have composed and sung a ghazal. My elder son Akshay has done the music and production for it and my younger son is acting in it.
How does one one sing Breathless?
Shankar: We breathe polluted air of Mumbai. It’s not that I sing in one breath, I would die then. On a serious note, it’s a technique. We are celebrating 20 years of Breathless now.
Hariharan: He breathes when he sings a syllable. It’s just a unique technique that the audience does not realise.
If not music, what would your alternative career option be?
Shankar: I was doing engineering. So, I may have been in US developing softwares for someone else. Or, a chef. I love cooking. I have an entire kitchen dedicated to myself in Karjat farm house.
Hariharan: I have eaten his food. When he finds something interesting, he would immediately look for the recipe and make it the next day. I studied law but I would have been a businessman.