Inarguably, one of the most prolific and versatile musicians in the country, Shankar Mahadevan feels that there have been a lot of positive changes in India’s music scene in the past decade.
It’s such a coincidence that the first film we composed the soundtrack for as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (music composer trio comprising Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa) was called Dus (1997). A decade ago, Bollywood’s music scene was pretty much the same as it is today. The only difference that has come about is that film-makers have started experimenting with scripts, and are making more adventurous films. Hence, the music has also become more adventurous. Various new musicians — composers and singers — have also made a mark. I am proud that one of them is my son, Siddharth Mahadevan.
I also feel that Indian classical music has seen an upswing. A lot more concerts take place in the country now. I am glad that a large number of young artistes are also taking interest in and doing justice to the Indian classical tradition.
What has changed
One good thing that has happened is that a lot of focus is being laid on non-film music. Even the genres used in Bollywood music have changed. A lot of electronic music has come in, which the younger generation seems to be enjoying. I think one thing that has been on the stagnant side is lyrics. I am not against item numbers, but the depth of lyrics has reduced. As a result, the poetic aspect of Indian film music is missing. I am among those people who have been fighting to revive the lost glory of lyrics.
Another visible transformation has been the change in people’s tastes. I think they have now become more open to listening to diverse genres, even the ones that wouldn’t have interested them earlier. For instance, interest in folk music has picked up. And it’s all because of the Internet and social media. People now have access to so many kinds of genres; they listen to a desi song, and then to a Michael Jackson track, followed by a hip-hop number by Usher. Social media has made music really accessible. Everything is now available on a platter. Also, the way music is distributed and promoted now has also changed. Makers lay a lot of emphasis on social media.
I think 10 years have passed like 10 weeks. I was happy then, and I am happy now too. So, I don’t really miss anything. We used to perform every weekend then, and we perform even now. The melody is still the same. But I miss travelling with my band, Remember Shakti. We might not be travelling any longer as my friend and group member, U Srinivas (mandolin player) passed away last year.
The way forward
I think virtual and digital platforms are the way forward. The way I got into the virtual platform by coming up with my online music academy, which has students from 47 countries, is something that will gain momentum now. It enables music lovers across the world to have access to music, and so many people can learn diverse genres. I think every person will live two lives now — real and virtual. The virtual medium enables two artistes to get in touch with each other. So, no mediator is required.