The Musical Maverick Book Review: An Insightful Read Of Singer’s Life

The Musical Maverick Book Review: An Insightful Read Of Singer’s Life

Preceded by a beautifully written Foreword by the legendary actor Javed Akhtar, in his second book, author Ashis Ghatak, takes the reader on a journey of the life and music

Verus FerreiraUpdated: Sunday, May 05, 2024, 12:25 PM IST
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Book: The Musical Maverick: The Authorized Biography of Shankar Mahadevan

Author: Ashis Ghatak

Publisher: ‎Rupa

Pages: ‎392 pages

Price: Rs 695

Preceded by a beautifully written Foreword by the legendary actor Javed Akhtar, in his second book, author Ashis Ghatak, takes the reader on a journey of the life and music of Shankar Mahadevan, getting deep into Mahadevan’s travails as his life progressed.

In 10 sections, with sub chapters encapsulated, Ghatak has managed to simplify the road Mahadevan treaded on, chronically in a time bound manner. Be it the opening chapter of Mahadevan’s humble beginnings in Chembur in his home at Anand Bhavan, to meeting his future wife Sangeeta, the trail moves on from college days to his musical aspirations.

In the book, Mahadevan reveals that he trained to become a veena artiste in his childhood. While teaching him to play a kriti, his veena guru told him to also sing in order to execute it well, thereby setting off his interest in singing. This soon put him in a new world, from his stints like performing in fusion bands like Surya, jazz fusion in Divya and SILK, the latter on the invitation by the Godfather of Jazz, Louis Banks, paved the way for what was to come soon.

The book also delves on his work with the world of advertising. He was the most sought after voice in the cash rich advertising industry. Definitely the hook line that drove the nation crazy was ‘Yehi hai right choice baby, aha’ resounded on Indian television. Pepsi had its share of success due to Mahadevan’s voice.

Mahadevan’s singing career was no less spectacular, with songs like Breathless commanding a huge listenership, so much so that he came to be known as the Breathless singer.

This eventually led to the formation of the legendary composer-trio: Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy (SEL). From there on, it was a smooth takeoff into Bollywood with hits flowing in films like Dil Chahta Hai, Kal Ho Na Ho, Bunty Aur Babli, Johnny Gaddaar and many more mentioned in the book. Read about the stories and the work that went behind the success of these films, not forgetting some equally amazing work in films like Taare Zameem Par, Rock On, Wake Up Sid, My Name Is Khan to the super hit Zindagi Na Milega Dobara.

In Chapter 8 and sub chapter Aman Ki Asha, you read about Mahadevan’s desire to promote the immense treasure of Indian music around the world. Mahadevan went on to compose many patriotic songs like the inspirational anthem on Indian cricket in Humko Hai Pura Yakeen, besides on the occasion of India’s then 72nd Independence Day, he lent his voice to another song titled Ye Desh Meri Jaan for Doordarshan. He also did shows titled My Country, My Music. His work with the legendary Gulzar must be mentioned here, where he travelled to Punjab and Delhi, where the duo performed a song with the commandos, doing an anthem with the Indian Air Force and one for the Indian National Flag. 

You cannot miss out the 16 color pages in the book that show the South Indian maverick from a young boy to rubbing shoulders with the cream of the music world. While it is said, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, in this case however, the cover picture of the book appears a bit out of taste for a biography. While Mahadevan is seen in a trance singing mood on the cover, more thought could’ve been given to the face of the book. Surely a better concept on his illustrious career could’ve been thought of which could’ve been the focus for the book cover.

Drawing on many hundred hours of interviews with Shankar Mahadevan, Ghatak brings out the essence of Mahadevan to the very core of who he really is, a singer, musician, composer, friend, family man, guru and, ultimately, iconic artist and man beloved by millions.

Mahadevan’s story written by Ghatak will surely leave you… what else Breathless.

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