In a recent conversation with actress Kiran Joneja on the virtual chat show ‘Insider Talk’ which is organised by Ramesh Sippy Entertainment in association with Ramesh Sippy Academy of Cinema and Entertainment (RSACE), Shantanu Mukherjee, lovingly known as Shaan shared some great insights about being in the Indian music industry and how his journey has been as a singer in Bollywood.
Shaan was only 17 when he started his career as a playback singer in Bollywood and he has sung several songs for hit films like 3 Idiots, Jab We Met, Taare Zameen Par and Kal Ho Na Ho. He has been a part of some extremely iconic moments for Bollywood by lending his magically charming voice to songs that are now evergreen. Known as the ‘Golden voice of India’, the ‘magician of melody’, Shaan has lived a glorious legacy in the Indian Music industry and continues to spread his charm and touch people’s hearts with his soothing voice. ‘Insider Talk’ has been developed to ensure that people and aspirants of the entertainment world remain engaged and in touch with the industry. Several industry professionals like actress Raveena Tandon, Lalit Pandit of music duo Jatin-Lalit, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, RJ Rohini and others have been a part of this chat show to share their valuable insights about their field of work and the industry at large. Shaan answered questions about his career, how he made it big, what inspires him and how an artist should have both passion and purpose.
When asked about how he managed to get a break in the industry at such a young age, Shaan said, “To be very honest, I was lucky enough to be blessed with great opportunities. I belonged to a household that carried a musical legacy, my father, Manas Mukherjee had lent his voice to several great songs in the past. Unfortunately we lost him too soon, he was only 43, but he left a lot behind in terms of his values, his conditioning and the goodwill that he created in the industry. My mom would sing with him in the chorus, my sister Sagrika had also received great appreciation for her musical talent but beyond a point I had to really do it myself so I used to just follow them around when they would go for a meeting with composers and producers, I was always keen to learn, understand and build my network.” Kiran Joneja also further went on to ask him about the many popular jingles that Shaan has lent his voice to upon which he revealed that he actually started singing at a much younger age. “I was 5 when I recorded my first ever song, it was a nursery rhyme. Following which I did do a lot of jingles and rhymes for brands and children’s entertainment.” He said with a bright smile across his face.
The first project where Shaan received official credits was the movie ‘Parinda’ where he voiced an adolescent Jackie Shroff. Shaan took every opportunity he could find, he was apprehensive about whether music would prove lucrative enough. So, he would give tuitions to kids, he also worked in sales trying to sell cable TV connections door to door, worked in a boutique called ‘Looks’ in Bandra before Shantanu Mukherjee became the popular music sensation ‘Shaan’. “This was only because I welcomed every opportunity with open arms, I was willing to participate, I was willing to better myself. I wanted to live my passion. And I did not consider slacking as an option for myself ever,” said Shaan.
Kiran Joneja spoke about how artists today are concerned about securing their future and compared it to how back in the days artists were only focused on their creativity, more than their income and finances, they were driven by passion. “Times are different now. It becomes very important for one to look out for themselves, to sustain themselves financially. However, one thing remains constant. You always need to be passionate and consistent in your efforts. Respect your colleagues and the people you interact with, have gratitude, only then will you receive the same back. There are several success stories of people who came out of nowhere but put in their all in their art, did everything in their capacity to produce brilliant work and of course, once they are recognised for their talent and work, it is also essential to plan a roadmap ahead” said Shaan. “Luckily for me, I got married to a wonderful woman who sort of steered the wheel for me in terms of managing things. I give complete credit to Radhika, my wife, she not just took care of things financially but also sort of shaped my life up in a way that I felt relaxed, I could focus on my music.” He went on to add.
Speaking about life in quarantine, Kiran Joneja highlighted the fact that some artists like Shaan himself have taken to social media to express themselves and reach out to their audience. The lockdown has not stopped these artists from doing what they do best. Shaan has worked on a song that speaks about biodiversity. “This has been looked at as a very dark period. And of course, my heart goes out to the ones who have suffered during this lockdown, the ones who are having a hard time putting up with it. But beyond that, I really value the time we’re getting to spend at home, close to our loved ones. We must value things we are blessed with and that also includes nature and it’s resources that are now not just being damaged but are also getting depleted. We must learn to take only as much as we need. Respect other living beings in order to maintain a balance. We’ve been working along with a huge team where several industry artists participate and this year the theme is a biodiversity” Shaan who is an optimist spoke about how we must stay positive especially during these times. “2020 is not over yet, I definitely have faith left in the days to come,” he said.
Upon being asked about his favourite song or project, Shaan said, “Being behind the microphone gives me joy. It’s hard to pick one song because all of them are special to me in some or the other. But ‘Tanha Dil’ was really significant for me because I wrote it for my closest group of friends.” He said while singing a few verses of the magical song.
Shaan has two sons who are both huge music enthusiasts and want to pursue a career in music. When asked about whether he planted the thought about pursuing a career in music into their head he explained that it wasn’t him who induced their passion, they themselves were highly keen on taking music up. “I believe that they are free to choose their paths but they are definitely going to go ahead and pick what they like and if that is music, I’m extremely happy as a father. I want them to pursue their passion, to practice what they’re good at.” Kiran Joneja went on to say, “There are kids of several popular artists who have received opportunities but might not have done as well. And at the same time, there are people who have stepped into the industry with no connections and made a huge mark for themselves. There is no substitute for hardwork.” Agreeing to this statement Shaan said, “It’s always up to the individual. Many of us were outsiders who put in a lot of effort to arrive at a certain position. So if an artist who has worked so hard, struggled to be where they are, wants their child to have some of those opportunities, they will provide them with those opportunities. Having said this, real talent and real hard work is always appreciated and valued eventually.”
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