Going by the visuals of ‘Rasathi’, Shankar Mahadevan is having a lot of fun.
In his latest Tamil independent folk track put out by MM originals, the popular singer — accompanied by Anthony Daasan and JK Iyenar — shakes a leg and croons quirky lyrics. “The whole idea behind ‘Rasathi’ was to have a fun collaborative musical experience,” says Shankar, over a telephone conversation, “I believe that it is the responsibility of all singer-composers who have achieved some sort of fame to promote newer talent, and give them visibility.”
The first line of ‘Rasathi’ takes one back to the Shankar Mahadevan we knew in songs like ‘Varaha Nadikkarai’ ( Sangamam) and ‘Uppu Karuvaadu’ ( Mudhalvan). “That song you mentioned — AR Rahman’s ‘Varaha Nadikkarai’ from Sangamam — was the track that took my voice to every Tamil-speaking person in the world. Though I’m based in Mumbai, over the years, I have worked closely with the Tamil industry and exposed myself to the folk style of music. Even in a Carnatic concert, we end up singing folk style numbers — like ‘Maadu Meikum Kanne’ that I usually sing along with Aruna Sairam.”
While Shankar Mahadevan is still very sought-after among Tamil film composers — his last big track was ‘Vaa Thalaivaa’ in Vijay’s Varisu — ‘Rasathi’ is an independent effort, something he promises to do more of in the future. The music video of ‘Rasaathi’ also weaves a story, one featuring Roshini Haripriyan of Barathi Kannamma and Cook with Comali fame. Is presenting music visually as important as the actual composing? “This is a debatable topic, but the music video should be the icing on the cake… primarily, the soul of the song lies in its melody and lyrics.”
While Shankar has done soulful classical melodies in Tamil, like ‘Enna Solla Pogiraai’ or ‘Merke Merke’, he also has contributed to several fast-paced hits like ‘Uppu Karuvaadu’ or ‘Manmadha Raasa’. “You need to display different kind of emotions, based on the genre the song is set in. It’s almost like being a schizophrenic. While all music originates from the same spot, you need to mould yourself based on the mood and feel of the track given to you,” says the singer, who also has another Tamil independent track releasing in April.
This moulding has happened not just to songs, but also to his own personality — while Shankar was always interested in music, he has also developed a solid on-stage presence that people connect with. So, how did he become the performer he is today? “Music, I feel, is communication. You are part of the audience and they are part of you. Your purpose is to make them happy. You might sing the greatest composition on the planet but if you aren’t sending out energy, it becomes pointless. The energy in any song needs to be communicated to audiences. I love people and I like connecting with people; that nature extends to my personality when I perform on stage,” says Shankar, whose recent popular Hindi compositions along with Ehsan and Loy include tracks in Toofan, Bunty Aur Babli 2 and Bandish Bandits.