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Shekhar Suman on his maiden concert in Delhi: I wanted to share this burst of emotion

Best known as an actor — and, briefly, as a politician — Shekhar Suman has shown Delhi a not-so-well-known facet of himself. His first ever musical concert in the city celebrated the golden voices of Indian cinema.

bollywood Updated: Jan 22, 2018 19:22 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Shekhar Suman,Delhi,Ramjas College
Actor Shekhar Suman performed live in Delhi for the first time ever. The concert was on January 20.

Shekhar Suman is not just an actor but a versatile artist, too, with a penchant for trying something new. This time, he has explored an old love: music. At his maiden concert in the Capital on January 20 evening, Suman delighted Delhiites by singing retro hits of Hindi cinema, and paying a musical tribute to the legendary singers Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi, and Manna Dey.

“I’m so musically obsessed that I needed an outlet,” says the 55-year-old actor and TV host — he was also, briefly, a politician — on his decision to take up live-singing at this stage in his career. “My mother was a fairly good singer. I used to often eavesdrop on her singing,” says Suman. “She used to sing Lataji’s (music legend Lata Mangeshkar’s) song, Dheere se aaja ankhiyan mein, as a lullaby to me. My sister is a very good singer, and my wife is a fantastic singer.” Surrounded by so much talent, Suman’s own passion for music thrived.

“I realised,” he says, “that I had a bit of a gift for singing, and thought I must pursue it, as part of my creative journey when I was acting. I trained in Indian classical music and, around the year 2007-2008, I cut an album, titled Kuch Khwaab Aise, introduced by composer Adesh Shrivastava. The title of the album was almost like a tagline of my life, where I said that there are so many things you dream of doing and you must pursue them with great passion and it eventually happens... So, [singing live] is one of my dreams that I pursued.”

The stage concert was the fulfilment of that dream. “I felt it’s very important to go out and perform in front of people,” says Suman. “There are singers who can sing very well when they’re [by] themselves, but it takes a lot of courage to be out there singing in right pitch and sur in front of an audience, and I thought let’s take this challenge.”

Suman was born in Patna and has lived in Mumbai for years now, but he chose Delhi for his maiden stage concert because he has roots here, too. “I grew up in Delhi, studied in Delhi, learnt my craft as an actor in Delhi,” says Suman, an alumnus of Delhi University’s Ramjas College. “I was with Shri Ram Centre’s Repertory Company, where I was taught how to sing, do make-up, stitch costumes, everything... So, a very imperative and essential part of my growing up as an actor was in Delhi. And, I guess that was the reason why I wanted to share this burst of emotion with my fellow Delhiites. It’s because of what I’ve learnt in Delhi, [that’s] the reason what I am today as an actor, as a person. I owe a lot to Delhi, as much as I owe to Bombay and Patna,” he adds.

‘All these songs became a part of my existence, and that’s why it was very important for me to share that emotion with people. It’s not that I’m trying to show people my prowess as a singer, but I want to tell them that if you feel the song, then you can sing the song’ — Shekhar Suman

It’s interesting that Suman chose to perform some iconic numbers. “I’ve grown up with a lot of music. I’m very emotionally attached to these songs because of the films, the characters played by actors like Dilip Kumar saab, Dev [Anand] sahab, and all the songs [I listened to] while I was growing up watching Amitabh Bachchan or Rajesh Khanna,” he says. “All these songs became a part of my existence, and that’s why it was very important for me to share that emotion with people. It’s not that I’m trying to show people my prowess as a singer, but I want to tell them that if you feel the song, then you can sing the song. It’s very simple. Singing is not all about being just absolutely pitch perfect, but if you stay in sur, what matters is that singing happens from your heart. When I sing Rafi saab’s song, I don’t necessarily have to copy him; there has to be a bit of me thrown into it.”

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First Published: Jan 21, 2018 16:32 IST