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Interviews |  17 Sep 2020 12:14 |  By Tolika Yeptho

Mukhtar Shah: Mukesh Mathur's voice inspired me, as it conveyed depth of emotion through melancholic lyrics

MUMBAI: Ahmedabad-based international artist-vocalist Mukhtar Shah who started singing at a young age and was inspired by Mukesh Mathur(one of the most acclaimed playback singer of the Hindi film industry) due to a soulful voice that aptly conveys pain. He had no formal training in music but took guidance from renowned musicians such as Pyarelal Ji.

The singer has held 5000 shows in India and abroad such as the USA, UK, Germany, Singapore and Dubai. He has also entered India Book of Records, Asia Book of Records and Limca Book of Records for singing Mukesh's 135 songs for 13 hrs at a stretch.

Mukhtar has performed with music composers such as Pyarelal (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal famed duo) and Anand (of Anand-Kalyan famed duo) and Rakesh Roshan. His list of awards includes Gujarat Gaurav Award, Lord of Mayor Award in London (1998), Multi-talented Artist Award in Dubai (1998), Best Singer and Entertainer Award in South Africa (1999-2003-2012), Best Performance Award in Botswana to name a few.

Check the interview below.

Share us your experiences on being ‘A Limca Book of Record holder’ for singing 130 songs and  13 hours at a stretch.

Music has always been my passion.  After taking it up as a full-time profession in 1990, I was aiming to do something unique in this field. Hence, I decided to take the challenge of singing 13 hours at a stretch. It was a one-of a kind experience that helped me to get out of my comfort zone. Entering the Limca Book of Records was a major accomplishment and the best moment of my life.  I also made into the India Book of Records and Asia Book of Records simultaneously.  The audience kept motivating and cheering me throughout my performance.  When I made a record, they showered their immense love and blessings which was an extremely emotional moment for me.

Throughout my career, my fans have been my greatest strength.

How did legendary Mukesh Mathur inspire you? Was he the reason you chose music as your career?

I have been fond of music since childhood. I started singing when I was in school and also won several prizes. Mukesh Ji’s voice inspired me, as it conveyed depth of emotion through melancholic lyrics. During my college days, I used to entertain my friends by singing Mukesh Ji’s songs. Once I was singing “Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar Hun” from the film Kabhi Kabhi and my friends started shouting ‘Mukesh, Mukesh’. Since then, they nicknamed me Mukesh. However, little did I know that I would take to music full-time later in my life and Mukesh Mathur Ji would become a source of my identity and livelihood rather than just an inspiration.

Could you throw some light on your musical journey?

Music has attracted me since childhood. I grew up in the era when Mukesh Mathur Ji was at the peak of his career. I listened to his songs regularly and he is my biggest inspiration to date. Like in a typical middle-class family, my father wanted me to focus on academics. At that time, it never occurred to me to opt for music as a career. While I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in law, some professional music groups offered me a chance for professional singing which I readily accepted. After completing the law degree, I started practicing as a criminal lawyer and continued till 1988. I did practice and performed during my leisure hours, so it was like juggling between two professions for a few years.

The first time I performed abroad was on the one-month London tour in 1990. I, along with several artists, performed seven music concerts over the weekend and received an overwhelming response from the crowd. This was a turning point in my life wherein I decided to take to music as a full-time profession. I still practise law and go to court whenever I get time.

How are you spending your time during a lockdown?

The lockdown period gave me time to introspect, connect with my fans and spend quality time with my family. Before the lockdown, I performed 15-20 concerts in a month and was barely left with time for myself. I am utilizing this period in mentoring my son, Sahil who is learning music and preparing my daughter, Sana, for a career in law.

I stay connected with my fans by staying active on social media. I have also conducted a Facebook Live session to keep my fans motivated and help them to cope with stress. I am also performing virtual programmes on demand. We commemorated this birthday of Mukesh Ji through a 3-hour live programme that garnered over x views. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has re-imagined entertainment and people are exploring novel ways to keep themselves engaged.

The COVID-19 crisis has affected the marginalized section of the society tremendously and I urge everyone to come forward to do their bit. I have contributed to the PM CARES Fund as well as Gujarat CM Relief Fund to help the needy. I am also extending financial and psychological support to my musician colleagues to tide over this phase. 

Could you enlighten us with your new system of performing and recording?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the industry like never before. Instead of offline concerts accompanied by artists, music troupe and an audience of over 5000 people, I now perform virtually on an original music track. My team records performance and assesses its impact through likes, comments and shares. However, the sad part is that I don’t get to see the audience’s faces. I also perform on my YouTube channel to keep my fans entertained.

Upcoming projects?

I have established my venture called M3 Events that offers curated performances to music aficionados to commemorate various occasions. I look forward to performing stage shows and concerts until I continue to enjoy it. I will be extremely honoured if I can inspire the youth to take up music as a full-time profession.