Dubai is always special: Shankar Mahadevan


Shankar Mahadevan, who will perform alongside Ustad Zakir Hussain and Louis Banks at the Nirvana 2017 – Crosscurrents International Tour at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Friday, January 27.

How do you feel to be back in Dubai and what can fans expect from this show?
Dubai is always special. I have come there with so many bands, playing so many genres of music and every time the reception has been so warm and welcoming, I always look forward to coming to Dubai. This one is really special because I’ll be performing with people who have been my mentors – Ustad Zakir Hussain, Louis Banks. It’s such a privilege to be playing with such great musicians, and we’re really looking forward to presenting this concert to our Dubai audience.

What are your thoughts on performing with Louis Banks and Zakir Hussain?
Louis Banks was one of the first people to introduce me to the world of advertising and I joined his Indo-Jazz fusion band Silk around two decades ago! And of course Zakir Hussain is someone I used to just look at and admire and want to take a picture with! And I never thought I would be on stage with this person who I consider a God of Rhythm in Indian music. God has been more than kind because he put me with this maestro on stage and allowed me to perform with him. Louis and Zakir have been my guiding light, my mentors, my pillars of support in this industry and I really look up to them. They have always showered their blessings not only on me but on my family, my children.

What according to you is the appeal of fusion music and why has it gained so much popularity over a period of time?
I don’t really think fusion is something new. It has been around right from the time of the existence of music itself. Even in our film industry for that matter if you listen to old songs by Salil Chowdhury or Hemant Kumar or Shankar Jaikishen, there is so much of Western classical orchestration with Indian melodies. Fusion always existed but what is happening is, on the same medium, for example on the same television you can watch an Indian classical or semi classical piece and along with that you can watch what is happening in the rest of the world.
So you’re exposed to music from all over the world. There is an inquisitiveness about what happens when you bring two musical forms together or when you go beyond boundaries and try to experiment and see where your music can find its place. That result is very, very exciting and people also want change, they want to see what happens if for example a Carnatic classical kriti or a taraana is sung with a modern beat. So it’s all very exciting, to see where each other’s music can meet and find their place.

Who would your dream collaboration be with?
My dream collaboration has already happened – it’s performing on stage with Ustad Zakir Hussain, Louis Banks, Dave Holland and the others from Crosscurrents – I’m already doing it and you will see it in Dubai.

Music is a universal language. Has the growth of world music helped in bringing people together?
Music is a great communicator and music can make people happy, it can make people sad, it can inspire people to dance, it can motivate them, it can make them emotional.
So when people from all over the world connect and play music together, they are definitely using it as a medium to bring about a kind of friendship and love amongst various countries and various kinds of people and it definitely contributes towards world peace.

“Last year we did a wonderful tour with Crosscurrents and all the musicians are of a very high caliber – for example Dave Holland has played with Miles Davis, you can’t get bigger than that. Being on stage with them itself is a blessing. You get to learn not only about music but a lot of human characteristics which you would like to imbibe in your own life. The experience is beyond music so I’m blessed and all of us are blessed during this concert.”

Music lovers in Dubai can now go to Shankar Mahadevan Academy (SMA) which has opened at Atrium Centre in the Mankhool neighbourhood.


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