Mahesh Kale, an Indian Classical Vocalist having trained under Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki, a revered name in the Indian Classical scenario.
Mahesh, for the entire 2016 has been practically singing at a concert or mehfil every other day! He is not only sought after but astonishingly has transcended generations and has a massive fan following of all age groups!
Classical music is elitist and is listened to by connoisseurs of music. Yet, there is a strange and welcoming phenomenon happening when the young, old, the very young are thronging Mahesh’s concerts. His easy rapport with the audience engages the music lovers forever.
The beauty of this connected world is that Mahesh who is a resident of USA is flitting between India and US and enthralling audiences all over the world
If you start something you do not leave till its done? Is that how you are?
I start a lot of things based on my gut feeling. If the instincts kick in then we are on the right track! To visualize the outcome and to move towards accomplishing it, gives immense sense of fulfilment. Let me cite an example. I had the good fortune of collaborating with Anna Shultz, a Standford University Professor who has done Phd in ‘Kirtan’ ! We came together and did a musical presentation of Kirtan wherein she would recite and explain and I would sing. To explain that to an audience who knew nothing about the topic at all is challenging and it takes a lot of imagination to do present things in an interesting manner to elicit response from the audience. It was extremely well received by the audience.
Since I am based in the USA, the audiences there have no concept of classical singing and many a times that has been a blessing in disguise. The reason being that I need to be thorough in my presentation and explanation and only then is there connectivity and engagement with the audience. That has been one of the main reasons for me engaging with the audience during my performances. To answer the question, I certainly pursue what I have started and do it well is what my focus is. Art and Perfection do not go hand in hand because Art is exploring and what has to be created cannot be perfect! It is this journey of creating that is magical.
Acting in a theatre musical. Live concerts, playback singing, composing…what next Mahesh?
What gives me immense pleasure is when I SING. I have been fortunate to get to try different ways of presenting my musical and creative aspects in the form of concerts, events and most recently composed the title song for a television serial. While composing that song, it happened literally in 15 seconds! The tune just came into my mind and took a life of its own.
I do skiing and that experience is so much akin to singing …one is never 100% in control. It is a matter of intense focus and finding the right balance, the vulnerability of that moment and life in general is what gives the edge to do so much more. I go blank at the time of my performance almost all times and then the music and singing take life of its own. I would much rather encourage the audiences to develop their musical instincts rather than impart knowledge. I interact and teach music to children in the age group of 8-14 years in the USA, this process helps me to learn so much about music. Wherever I am in the world, I make it a point to teach my pupils through skype and even if it means me getting up at unearthly hours to sync with the class timmings at their end. This sincerity and accessibility has been possible as the result of superb technological advancements.
What are your fondest musical memories? In you house? In your concert?
My memories of learning with Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki have been magical!
There is a Cathedral in LA which has a structure like a glass roof that opens to the skies. Whenever I have sung there, it is almost like I go in trance and I get connected in a beautiful way. I never analyse this feeling, rather I just enjoy that feeling and that moment!
There is one more incident I remember that is nothing to do with my performance. I was visiting Yosemite in USA which has stunning mountain ranges and is based in California. The sun was setting and it was a breathtaking sight and I ran to my car to get the camera to capture the moment for posterity but for some reason the camera got stuck and I gave up trying. I kept watching the divine sunset and it was an unreal experience. Isn’t it important to enjoy that very moment and to live in the present…unfortunately we are never in the present.
Music is a spiritual journey where every moment is to be lived in the present because there is “JOY IN THE PRESENT”
How do you handle music with other obligations? Your Partner/ parents/ friends etc
Music is a very demanding profession. It requires a lot of sacrifice and at the same time it gives so much more than anticipated. I am of the lucky to be doing exactly what I enjoy and am passionate about and I get paid for this! It is certainly not my hobby but my way of living and earning livelihood. What the audience hears is the tip of my performance..allow me to say it is like a tip of the iceberg. The depth and the foundation of the iceberg is something which is my personal journey at the time of a performance that only I can sense and to explore that depth is empowering beyond words.
My support system is phenomenal. My wife has been my pillar and rock solid supporter and I am mindful of it. It is a brutal situation wherein I am travelling all over the world and performing and not being able to give the time to my near and dear ones. Nobody can accomplish anything alone. Not even Steve Jobs or Bill Gates who have immensely talented teams working for their dreams to come true. The CEO gets the credit but the success belongs to the entire team.
The world is my oyster and I would like to be the first ever to maybe sing to the Martians! J
What is your Big Dream ?
I wish that I am able to touch the hearts of all! (including the Martians). I have been blessed with the gift of my voice and I want to share it with everyone. I pour my heart and soul in my performances and want it to impact every single person who is listening to me sing.
Mother Teresa had once said that if she was able to save that one single soul at the time of a plague outbreak, she would feel so much more useful and that she could be of help to someone and make a difference to that one soul.
To touch that one soul with music is divine.
I owe a lot to my fans and well wishers. It is a humbling experience and I owe so much to these special audiences. Some of the stories that they share touches you to the core! I got a tweet message from a fan who said that he was so depressed with life and thought of committing suicide but had a change of mind after listening to my singing.
There was a small girl who had a mobile cover featuring me and wanted me to autograph it! I remember my parents disapproving when I put posters of my then musical idols on the wall and here is small girl with a mobile cover with my face and a fan of my singing. Times are changing and I feel blessed to having being able to popularize classical singing to newer generations.
I am extremely aware that is the “Devotees who decide who is to be the God”
This feeling is pressurising but I want to make this into a movement.
It is that One brilliant idea and a perfect execution that I will want to do one day.