When I rang up Shankar Mahadevan to congratulate him for the Grammy that he and his band Shakti won for the album This Moment, the affable super-versatile musician replied, “I am currently travelling back to India. I am in transit in Doha . Will be boarding in a few minutes. When you sent a message asking to speak to me, I had to speak to you. We’ve done so many interviews in the past.
Shankar was in a dreamlike state of mind. “Dreams do come true. This Grammy is very special. The entire world’s attention was focussed on that stage. And then to go there and represent our culture and music , not in the way the West wants us to but in the way that we want to …I can’t describe the feeling.The entire world was watching when we got the Grammy for India.It somehow feels like all the hard work has paid off.”
I asked him what that moment when his name was announced for the Grammy. “It was unbelievable! It will be that epiphanic career-defining moment in my life and career. When the nominees were announced we were like, ‘Chalo yahan tak aa gaye wohi kafi hai.’ But then to hear we had won. I dedicated this award to India on stage, you must have seen the clipping. This is the moment when India is shining all over . That is what every Indian musician dreams of.”
Shankar now intends to take our music even even further. “ I want to be associated with more collaborations , globally creating more awareness of our culture and music . There is tremendous music in our country’s heritage: in the Vedas, shlokas, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita….there is a different variety of folk music in every state . There are traditional songs for every occasion…from a baby being born to dying…These songs are often thousands of years old.These aspects of our music need to be explored and the aesthetics and depth of our music must be demonstrated to the world. That’s my mission.”