A Detour to our Destination

Written by Deepa Sridhar on 11 August 2020

SANGAM, a dream come true for Arathi Murthy, a teacher and well-wisher of the Shankar Mahadevan Academy. She had a dream of celebrations amongst teachers and students globally and narrated that dream to Sridhar Ranganathan, one of the founders of Shankar Mahadevan Academy. He believed it was a great idea and set about executing it. The first SANGAM happened seven years ago in Namma Bengaluru.

When you operate online, one of the things you miss is the warmth of meeting each other face-to-face and enjoying the pleasure of togetherness. SANGAM offers a chance to all our staff and students from the world over to come and soak in the joy of music and friendship. All of them colourfully dressed, and with special guests from the music field, SANGAM feels like one big wedding celebration of music and musicians. 

Year after year, the SMA community looks forward to this event. This year the pandemic made it seem like it would be impossible to have it.

But taking impossible and making it happen has always been Sridhar Ranganathan's strengths. With his never-say-die attitude, Sridhar wanted the celebrations to continue, even during mitigating circumstances. 

“We are an online Academy, why can’t we do SANGAM online,” were his thoughts. And he always makes sure his thoughts are turned into action. His ever supporting friend and founder Shankar Mahadevan was as excited as him to get it going.

Now, it was time for action and execution. The Academy is blessed with competent and creative staff, who never doubt in the belief that anything is possible with a vision and hard work, so everyone involved jumps in to do their part.

Enrolments begin, compositions are planned, logistics are worked out, the energy and positivity starts once again this year. Is it possible to create the same magic online? That is the question in all our minds, and the day of reckoning arrives. And for August 8th and 9th, four sessions of three hours were planned over two days.

The apprehension and excitement of how this new venture would turn out, especially with so much dependency on WIFI, connectivity and features of our video streaming software. Every heart was beating and sending out positive thoughts and love to make it a success and when so much of that is there, the only way a event can turn out is to be a grand success.


With the magical presence of Shankar Mahadevan, and the two special guests, Purbayan Chatterji and Shreya Ghoshal, both humble human beings, who opened their musical stories to students and viewers world over, the ‘Mahol’ of musical divinity was created and sustained.

Singer-composer Shreya Ghoshal, special guest for SANGAM, in conversation with Shankar Mahadevan.

Sitar maestro Purbayan Chatterjee, special guest for SANGAM, breaks into a composition with Shankar Mahadevan.

Compositions sung, from the tiny tots to special kids, to people who dedicate their life to working with prisoners and prostitutes to change their lives, to professionals who have taken on music as one of the things in their bucket list, to singers who want to be professional, the program just touched every soul watching. Teachers were made proud by students, the Academy was made proud by teachers; it was electrifying and emotionally satisfying hours of music for all. 

We can either let the pandemic take away our joy or find ways to work around it – our SANGAM Online Live 2020 (tm) is a testimonial to that. So people – let us not look at roadblocks ahead but find the detour that takes us to our destinations.

Deepa Sridhar is Trustee, Shankar Mahadevan Academy.