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Introduction :
Shankar Sahney mainly sings Bhangra music in Punjabi.
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Shankar Sahney: Another performer of Bhangra? - would be the prompt and obvious response to any artist coming out with what recording companies believe is the hottest selling music today. Shankar Sawhney will soon be a regular face on music television and from the sounds of his album 'Kudiyaan', one more performer of one of this, our most enthused genres of music. I throw the standard question his way of what he thinks will make him stand out from the hordes.

"See, everybody who comes out with an album has some degree of talent in them", he says, "but you can only tell if they're a success if they come out with more than one album. The music company will only back you for the second album if they believe that you have the talent. This is not my first album with TIPS." The label and Shankar have a history, which includes their recommending him for the popular 'Jattlutya' track on Champion. " I was really happy", he says proudly of the break into playback, " it happened sooner than I expected it would happen. You know usually the artiste has to become a national artiste before they recognize you. But here, thanks to TIPS, I got to do the song and it was popular for such a long time."

While the extra attention thanks to Champion was great, for Shankar there still is no substitution for doing his own thing. " With playback, you can't really be spontaneous. It's very situational. You have to keep the song situation in mind, the actor in mind, you have to work according to the music director."

As far as doing his own thing is concerned, he rests confidently assured of having a handle on what people want to hear, having been performing on stage since he was in school. Both his father and grandfather being classical musicians, for him learning music was not really just another option but a requirement. "When I was three and had to learn music, I didn't like it at all. I used to look out of the window and see the other kids playing. And then I was ready to play, they had all gone home." That reluctance changed eventually. " Once I grew older, I really enjoyed it. With all performances in school and college, I saw people appreciating me." And the live shows are continuing till date, with some in London and New York.

Shankar has to his credit more than 500 albums. A chunk of those of course include his work as a guitarist. He's quick to appreciate the benefits gained by the vast experience in the recording studio. " I'm really glad that happened. You learn what exactly goes on in there. You know how important the recordist is and how much he can contribute to your song. If a singer just knows singing, he sings and then leaves the studio. When he hears the song later and it doesn't sound like what he wanted it to sound, he won't know what went wrong or whom to catch hold of."

With a strong penchant for ghazal music, he remains disappointed with the lack of opportunities for newcomers wanting to give recording them a shot. " You go into a music store, in the ghazal section, the top ten albums will be Jagjit Singh's and the next ten will be Pankaj Udhas. That's it." However on his insistence, Kudiyaan will include three of his prized ghazals.

All in all, he does strike you as quite an easy-going fellow, completely unarmed by a lot of the usual self-promoting spiel you get from many singers. " I am content", he says thinking about it for a moment, " but that doesn't mean that I take it easy. You know everybody like to say that they're content but nobody can really be happy if their career is moving at a slow pace. You have to be always alert and know what people want."

He smiles at my next query as to whether he manages a balanced life, with all his touring abroad and a recent spate in recording. " People in interviews say they lead balanced lives. But it's impossible. If you want to work properly, you will always be busy."
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