For Shankar Mahadevan’s 18-year-old son Siddharth, it’s not his last name that hits the right note. And though its familiar ring may have something to do with the kind of exposure he has received so far, it’s his own prowess that has earned him the title of one of the youngest composers in the music industry.
The BMM student from National College was recently spotted at a music launch of a devotional album, Ganaraj Adhiraj, for which he has collaborated with the famous trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and musical duo Salim-Sulaiman. The biggest surprise of the night though was his 10-year-old brother, Shivam, who too has lent his vocals for a song.
"He’s an amazing singer. We were all surprised to know he could sing so well," says Siddharth. A happy father, Shankar chips in, "Both the kids have been ‘surila’ (musically inclined) from a young age. The sense of rhythm comes naturally to them. Though Siddharth has been practising for a while now, I was surprised with Shivam’s perfect pitch. I want them to work harder on their talent."
In the past, Aditya Narayan, son of ace playback singer Udit Narayan, took a cue from his father’s musical legacy. He has now shot to the limelight in various roles from an actor and television host to music composer. Bollywood composer Anu Malik’s daughter, Anmol, too has taken the baton from her father.
For Siddharth, however, being his father’s son is just incidental. "It’s not like I go about announcing I’m Shankar Mahadevan’s son. Just being his son won’t get you everywhere. Like my dad says, ‘this is the time I should focus on my work’," says Siddharth, who recently returned from a summer course at Berklee College of Music. He cannot deny his advantage though. "Just hanging out at the studio and watching my father has been fruitful. I feel, listening is the biggest way of learning and we were introduced to various sounds by him," says Siddharth, who like his father, has trained in Carnatic and Hindustani music.
Currently busy giving final touches to the soundtrack of Marathi film, Swapna Tujhe Ni Majhe, where Siddharth will don the role of a music director for the first time, he feels that the film industry is one of the greatest platforms. "My cousin, Soumil and I are music directors for the first time. It all started in 2009, when we got an offer to compose with Alyssa Mendonsa for Neeta Lulla. That was the first time we felt we could compose," he says.
The music of Swapna Tujhe Ni Majhe releases on November 21. For their film debut, the duo composed three songs in a day. Ask him if Shankar was keyed in too and he adds, "Dad was the only person we approached to seek approval once we finished composing. And thankfully, he gave our work a nod."
Shikhar-Naad Qureshi (15)
Son of singer Geetika Varde and ace percussionist Taufiq Qureshi, Shikhar first performed on stage when he was 10. “At one of the concerts, I had to perform a tabla solo with Zakir Hussain and Hari Prasad Chaurasia on stage. At one moment, I just completely blanked out and forgot the bols I had to recite. It was really scary,” he recalls, adding, “My father gave me the cue and helped me regain confidence.” Currently busy preparing for his class 10 exams, Shikhar-Naad has been training since he was nine and is adept at playing the tabla, djembe and keyboard. “After school, I want to go Berklee College of Music and take up percussions,” he adds.
Alyssa Mendonsa (21)
Daughter of Loy Mendonsa, Alyssa made her singing debut as a teen with Karthik Calling Karthik’s (2010) ‘Uff Teri Ada…’ Now with films like Housefull (2010), Patiala House and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to her credit, Alyssa confesses that she shies off her father’s legacy. “I’m a loner and a secretive person,” says Alyssa, who is pursuing a music course at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. “I didn’t have professional training. My interest in music came from cartoons. Those voices had magic. I practised vocals in secrecy. I remember dad being surprised when I told him I wanted to sing for a school event in class 1.”