Our horizon is so vast and Indian culture is so rich that I think what we are today, culturally, we have a unique position and I don’t think one lifetime is enough to encompass it – M. F. Husain
India is a reservoir of music. Singers, dancers, instrumentalists, percussionists, composers are earning great name and fame, not only for themselves, but for India as well. But there are a few who rose to peak, tasted success, and then… suddenly disappeared…!! They don’t need to be introduced all over again as they already are achievers, however they vanished suddenly from the limelight. In an attempt to remove the ‘sands of time’ accumulated on such gems over the years, Narada News brings to you many such artistes in its ‘Music Segment’. This time we take a sneak peek into the musical journey of our star guest Shailaja Menon Madhavan.
An MBA graduate with a rich corporate experience on the professional front, Shailaja has been a multifaceted person since childhood. She first tasted success on a national level in popular singing contest ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ on Zee TV in 1996 and also won the National Best Female Singer Award in a national-level talent hunt organised by Kishore Kumar Memorial Society.
Not only did she participate in musical shows with playback singers Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Kumar Sanu, Mohd Aziz, Ila Arun, Vipin Sachdev and other leading singers of Mumbai, but also has a couple of albums to her credit.
When asked about her first foray into music, a nostalgic Shailaja tells she was interested in music even before she started talking. Although her parents are Malayalis, she was born and brought up in Delhi. She says when they were living in Karol Bagh, her neighbour, a Carnatic music teacher, used to take classes in the first floor during evenings. Although she was under one, she used to crawl up from her ground floor flat to the classroom and sit there till the class was over.
Shailaja calls her mother Shakuntala her biggest ‘guru’ as it was her habit to listen to ‘Bollywood Melodies’ on Radio Ceylon that influenced Shailaja in childhood. She grew up humming to Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle’s songs. “Lata Didi is my all-time favourite,” she says, adding that Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghoshal too in her favourite singers’ list.
She learnt Carnatic music from her ‘Guru Ma’ Janaki Ramasubhan. Her mentor Amarjit Singh Kohli, whom she regards as her godfather, always motivated her to continue her musical journey.
Realising that “I breathe music”, Shailaja has made a comeback after a sabbatical of over 16 long years.Now, she is back on stage and is one of the leading female singers of Delhi.
She considers herself fortunate to have a supportive and encouraging husband in J Madhavan. The couple has a son, Aditya Madhavan, who is a national-level tabla player and is a budding singing star.
Shailaja’s music platter is already full of offers, including Padmashree Ashok Rajgopal Foundation’s upcoming musical show on September 17 at Air Force Auditorium, Subroto Park, New Delhi, and a radio show, among others, this month. Here’s wishing the best of luck to Shailaja…!!!