‘What Every Indian Musician Dreams Of’

Photograph: Kind courtesy Shankar Mahadevan/Instagram

When Subhash K Jha rang up Shankar Mahadevan to congratulate him for the Grammy award 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’s fusion music group Shakti won the Grammy for Best Global Music Album. The band includes guitarist John McLaughlin, tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan and percussionist Selvaganesh Vinayakram.

“Dreams do come true. This Grammy is very special,” he adds.

“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… 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.”

What was that moment like when his name was announced?

“It was unbelievable!” Shankar exclaims.

“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 kaafi 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.”


Photograph: Kind courtesy Shankar Mahadevan/Instagram

Shankar shares his future plans: “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.”