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Shankar Mahadevan reacts to his first-ever Grammy win, says 'completely blacked out when...'

Shankar Mahadevan says he completely blacked out at Los Angeles' Crypto.Com auditorium when his band Shakti's "This Moment" was announced as the winner for best global music album.

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Shankar Mahadevan says he completely blacked out at Los Angeles' Crypto.Com auditorium when his band Shakti's "This Moment" was announced as the winner for best global music album and he bagged his first Grammy.

Winning a Grammy Award for Indian music is a matter of privilege, he said a week after the global music event that saw five Indians bag the coveted prize this year. "These kinds of feelings can't be described in words because it's a matter of honour and privilege.

"The Grammys stage is the epitome of world music recognition. I was very happy and blessed to be a small part of this recognition and the fact that Indian music was appreciated worldwide. That's a great feeling. I'd like to thank god for giving me this opportunity," the vocalist told PTI in an interview. Shakti also includes founding member, guitarist John McLaughlin, tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan and percussionist Selvaganesh Vinayakram.

"You're completely blacked out when the name is announced. You have to walk that whole passage and go up the stage," Mahadevan, part of the music composer trio Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy, said. But it is a feeling of relief because the tension of waiting for the prize to be announced, even during a small school award function, really "kills you", he said.

"And over here (at the Grammys), it's got all kinds of mixed feelings. As the award function is going on you're analysing, 'This will happen, that will happen. Oh maybe, maybe not!' It's crazy. But it was a feeling of absolute elation and joy. We were just celebrating from the word go," he added.

It was also sheer coincidence that Mahadevan's Grammy win and his authorised biography "The Musical Maverick" released the same day on February 5. The book is penned by Ashis Ghatak and published by Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd.

"I was so happy that these two dates merged together and my dear friend Ashis Ghatak's hard work finally saw the light of the day... It was totally unplanned, undecided but it happened," he said.

Ghatak, who has also written the biography of Indian jazz legend Louis Banks, reached out to Mahadevan, 56, for the book during the pandemic around 2021. The vocalist-composer said he was touched by the author's simplicity and passion, which he witnessed at the launch of Bank's biography.

"Ashis is no frills, no nonsense. I like such people, he really touched my heart. When he asked me, 'Can I write a book or biography on you?' I said 'Yeah, if you feel I'm worthy of it, please go ahead'... The way he started taking details about my life and the people around me.. He used to work passionately, patiently. There are very few people like him," the Mumbai-based musician said.

Veteran lyricist-screenwriter Javed Akhtar, a frequent collaborator of Mahadevan's since the hit indie-pop album "Breathless", has penned the foreword of the biography. In the extract, Akhtar fondly recounts meeting "the musical genius" for the first time around 1998 and how he hasn't stopped surprising him in the 30 years they have known each other.

Mahadevan said he is "fortunate enough" to be in touch with a maestro like Akhtar. Together, they have created memorable soundtracks in films such as directorial debuts of Akhtar's children: "Dil Chahta Hai" by Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar's "Luck By Chance" as well as "Kal Ho Naa Ho" and "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna".

"Javed ji is very important. He has always been there with me in the industry as a pillar of strength, support and advice because of his sheer experience. He is somebody on whom I can always depend upon... I can lean on his shoulders and do whatever I want. His support is always there for me," Mahadevan said. The entire industry, he said, respects Akhtar.

"So I have that proud feeling that 'Oh I know this man who is so respected and he loves me too'. Not only me, he has affection for my family, my wife, and my children, it cannot be described in words. We share an amazing bond." According to Mahadevan, his biography is a "genuine life story about a simple, middle-class musician".

"It's difficult to be sincere, whether it's your music, work or just the way you live. Sincerity is the USP of this book. I don't know how many people would be interested in knowing about my life because I don't know how important or exciting it is.

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"If you like my music, if you're inquisitive to know anything (about me), it's there in the book. It's about my beautiful family, friends, my gurus, my lifestyle, everything is there. People who would like to know a little bit more about me would read it," he said.

Up next for the musician is multiple feature films, some OTT projects, and lots of activities with the Shankar Mahadevan Academy, his eponymous music school. "A lot of international collaborations are being planned, especially after the Grammy Awards... You get to know a lot of stuff. Those are possibilities where you can venture into and give it to the world," Mahadevan said.

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