Mahalakshmi Iyer is a well-known Bollywood singer, and her magnificent voice has been heard on over a thousand songs in many Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Assamese, Kannada and Malayalam. She comes from a musical family; her mother, Vijayalakshmi, is an exponent of Carnatic classical music. Mahalakshmi has performed with, and for, all of the big names in the industry.
Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.
I am a south Indian, however born and bred in Mumbai. So those who ask or wonder about a south Indian with a good Hindi diction there is the answer (smiles). And I started learning music when I was ten, In chose Hindustani classical because of my affinity for Hindi film songs and ghazals (as opposed to Carnatic music i.e.).
So how did your meeting with the musical trio “Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy” happen?
Well S E l, are my most favorite people. We met years ago when all three were individual music producers for advertising campaigns, then Loy n Ehsaan became a team and later Shankar, who used to come and sing and co-write; became the third part of this successful trio. I had been singing for all of them and became part of their debut film and subsequent sound tracks .it’s been a wonderful journey both professionally and personally with them.
Describe the experience of working with the “world’s most prominent and prolific film composer”, A. R. Rahman.
A. R. Rahman is a genius. Working with him has been a very enriching experience. What he has given to the world of music is outstanding, especially his contribution to sound. His music rewrote Indian music, in a way, because of his unusual style and approach. And as a singer I can say, which others will endorse, that he pushes, prods, and elicits something more than what you thought you were capable off.
What would you consider as your one best achievement or gig thus far?
There have been many, working with all the great stalwarts like Ilaiyaraaja, A.R. Rahman and so many others. Being part of the Oscar winning song “Jai Ho”, winning the state award for “datale reshami” of a Marathi film Time Pass and off course performing at every gig and meeting my fans from all over the world. All of these have been heartwarming and cherish worthy.
What kind of music do you like?
I like and listen to all kinds of music. Classical, ghazal, devotional, jazz, blues. I have abiding interest in all forms and genres.
Any upcoming projects or initiatives you would like to discuss?
Well, I’m excited about my next release “Kill Dil”, Hindi romantic action film directed by Shaad Ali. It’s a fun song that I have sung in that film.
What are your leisure tome activities?
I am a private person. I love reading and listening to music. I hang out with friends and catch up on a film sometimes or just chill and jam with them. I also love adventure and am always on the lookout for such activities during my travels. Long walks, being one with nature, by the sea or amidst mountains is also am into.