Shaandar singer speaks his heart out
A collage of sweet memories brought Shaan back to the serene land of the red river and blue hills.
For the gifted singer, Guwahati is not just another stopover in his ten-city musical odyssey. “Guwahati is like a second home to me. I still remember those days when I performed at Judges Field. People out here were so enthusiastic that I even crooned while completely rain-soaked in a street musical show,” he reminisced.
Shaan came calling recently to promote his musical album Aksar. Attired in a casual T-shirt and jeans, the Tanha Dil singer spoke about his dates with Assam in a tête-à-tête.
This time too, the rain had almost played spoilsport during Shaan’s programme in the city. But the singer’s soulful rendition and a cheering crowd in the Nehru Stadium made the programme a success despite the inclement weather.
Shaan alias Shantanu Mukherjee’s first Assamese album Mon, composed by successful musician Anupam Saikia, was a huge hit. Though unable to converse in Assamese, Shaan loves the music and symphony that the picturesque land presents. Beyond euphony, Shaan has other reasons to fall in love with the land also. “It was here that I stepped onto the precarious terrain of film industry with Kalpana Lajmi’s award-winning film Daman, in which I played the love interest of Raima Sen. I really enjoyed the days of shooting here. We celebrated Holi here with much fanfare,” he recalled.
That was Shaan’s “first and last venture into the realm of acting”. He is now totally devoted to what he does best — singing. He is busy these days in shooting for his own album, lending his voice to film songs and anchoring the immensely popular television show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa on Zee TV.
Born into a family of music lovers, Shaan had dreamt of becoming a banker. But as destiny would have it, he went on to become a singer. His father was a classical singer and composed music for a couple of films as well.
Shaan’s first musical assignment was a Bengali jingle at the age of four-and-a-half years. He jumped onto the pop turf with sister Sagarika, backed by Biddu’s melodies in 1995. They did a pop album Naujawan in 1996.
His first solo album was Love-ology, whose title track became a huge hit with teenyboppers. A prolific lyricist as well, Shaan took a sabbatical as he devoted time to writing lyrics for his Tanha Dil, which won hearts of millions of music lovers immediately after its release in 2000. The album went on to grab the prestigious MTV Asia Award in the Favourite Indian Artiste (pop category) in 2002.
The anchor of the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa acknowledged the potential of a handful of Assamese talents like Joy Chakraborty, Kalpana and others who took part in the programme. Lots of talents like Shreya Ghosal, Sanjivani Velande had got recognition through the programme.
However, he had a word of caution for budding singers who want to make it big in Bollywood. “It is difficult to struggle in Bollywood if you come from states other than Maharashtra. As for me, it was comparatively easier to fight as I was born and brought up in Mumbai. But for Zubeen Garg, the ace singer of Assam, it was really hard to make a mark,” he said.
“Though Zubeen has lent his voice to big-budget movies like Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Kaante, for a gifted singer who is worshipped in his homeland, it is difficult to cope with as a non-entity in Bollywood,” Shaan, who happens to be a friend of the prince of the Assamese music industry, said.
While praising the youth of Assam for being open to new ideas, Shaan said they should try hard to deliver more in all fields.
As a singer, composer and lyricist, Shaan thinks that the repertoire of melodious folk songs of this lovely land has largely remained unexplored, barring a few aficionados like Bhupen Hazarika.
Though Shaan has not experimented with the rich folk tune of Assam so far, he plans to do so in future. He penned the lyrics and composed the music of his recent album, in which he has collaborated with three international artistes — Blue, Mel C and Samira Said (A Moroccan singer).
A loving and caring husband, Shaan is an affectionate father to three-year-old Soham. The ever-smiling Shaan, with a dimple on his radiant face, dazzles when asked about his soulmate Radhika and son, who, according to him, soothe his frazzled nerves.