Shankar Mahadevan: A Musical Odyssey from Baithak to Bollywood

Indian music has been shaped by the rich tradition of the guru-shishya relationship, where knowledge and talent are passed down from one generation to the next. Shankar Mahadevan, a versatile and gifted Indian singer and musician, has embodied this tradition and taken it to new heights with his unique journey from ‘Baithak to Bollywood.’ His musical odyssey is a testament to the ever-expanding horizons of Indian music and the transformative power of the guru-shishya bond.

The CITI-NCPA’s Aadi Anant Festival in Hyderabad provided a perfect stage to showcase the brilliance of this journey. Shankar Mahadevan, an artist of our time, graced the festival with a concert that paid homage to his musical roots and celebrated his evolution as a musician. His remarkable journey is characterized by a fusion of classical training and a bold exploration of various musical genres.

Shankar’s Musical Education Began Under TR Balamani

Shankar’s musical education began under the guidance of his Carnatic music guru, TR Balamani. This classical foundation laid the groundwork for his deep understanding of traditional Indian music. Along the way, he also received invaluable guidance from legendary composer Shrinivas Khale. These formative years instilled in him a strong foothold in the nuances of classical music, providing the foundation upon which his future musical endeavors would be built.

However, Shankar Mahadevan’s journey did not stop at classical music. He ventured into uncharted territory by collaborating with some of the finest musicians in the world. His association with stalwarts like Ustad Zakir Hussain, U Srinivas, Selva Ganesh, and John McLaughlin for the iconic “Remember Shakti” project was a pivotal moment in his career. These collaborations broadened his horizons and emphasized that being a great musician is synonymous with being a good human being. Shankar speaks with admiration about how each of these legends was so secure in their art that they synergized beautifully onstage, offering each other perfect support and space, creating music that left a lasting impact on listeners.

“Remember Shakti” videos are a testament to this unique fusion of musical genius and diversity. They are awe-inspiring, resonating with both the lay listener and the connoisseur.

Hyderabad Concert – Shankar Mahadev Treated Musical Journey

In his recent concert in Hyderabad, Shankar Mahadevan treated the audience to a musical journey from ‘Baithak to Bollywood.’ This innovative concept seamlessly blended traditional music forms, including folk and semi-classical, before transitioning into the vibrant world of pop and Bollywood. Hyderabad’s music enthusiasts embraced each segment with applause and enthusiasm, reflecting the city’s rich musical heritage and open-hearted embrace of innovation.

Starting with the ever-popular ‘Gananayakaya Ganadevataya,’ Shankar delved into Carnatic compositions in Raaga Hamsadhwani, skillfully accompanied by the talented Padma Shankar and Amar Oak on the violin and flute. Throughout the concert, the accompanying artists demonstrated brilliance, and Shankar graciously acknowledged their talent and support. The performance was a delightful mix of ghazals, thumris, bhajans, and naam-dhun, ultimately culminating in a grand finale with the lightning-fast ‘Breathless.’

In essence, “Baithak to Bollywood” encapsulates Shankar Mahadevan’s remarkable musical journey. His evolution as an artist is a testament to the power of embracing diverse influences while staying true to one’s roots. Shankar Mahadevan’s story resonated deeply with the audience in Hyderabad, showcasing his versatility and unwavering dedication to his craft. His unique fusion of traditional and contemporary music exemplifies the enduring power of the guru-shishya tradition, demonstrating that Indian music is a living, evolving entity that continues to inspire and enthrall audiences around the world.


Shankar Mahadevan’s musical journey from ‘Baithak to Bollywood stands as a testament to the enduring power of the guru-shishya tradition and the boundless potential of musical innovation. His deep-rooted classical training, under the guidance of esteemed gurus like TR Balamani and Shrinivas Khale, provided him with a solid foundation in traditional Indian music. Yet, it was his fearless exploration of diverse musical genres and collaborations with musical legends like Ustad Zakir Hussain and John McLaughlin that truly set him apart.

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