‘MTV Unplugged’ gears up for its seventh season with Vishal Bhardwaj and Shankar Mahadevan

The seventh season of MTV India’s hit music show goes on air from December 9.

Bollywood music goes acoustic yet again in the latest season of MTV India’s popular music show MTV Unplugged. The line-up for the seventh season includes Vishal and Rekha Bhardwaj, Shankar Mahadevan, Farhan Akhtar, Papon, Monali Thakur and Armaan and Amal Malik.

“There was zero-interference from them [MTV] and they allowed us to do whatever we wanted to do and we have done whatever we wanted to do,” Mahadevan said at a press event in Mumbai on Wednesday. The prolific singer will be seen crooning alongside his sons Siddharth and Shivam for an episode.

Shankar Mahadevan, Siddharth Mahadevan and Shivam Mahadevan. Image credit MTV India.
Shankar Mahadevan, Siddharth Mahadevan and Shivam Mahadevan. Image credit MTV India.

Based on the American show of the same name, MTV Unplugged India features musicians and singers performing in an acoustic setup. While regulars Papon, Farhan Akthar and Rekha Bhardwaj return this season, Vishal Bhardwaj, Mahadevan and Armaan Malik will be performing for the first time.

“It is really special because I have been a composer for the last three years in Bollywood and I have always arranged my songs in a certain way,” Amal Malik said. “But that is usually according to the requirement of the film. If you hear the set that I have done for this season, it is going to be completely different.”

The Sooraj Dooba Hain composer revealed that he would be performing a cello and piano rendition of a track from Azhar (2016). “We really loved and lived each and every song that we sang in MTV Unplugged,” his singer brother Armaan added.

Hariharan in MTV Unplugged.

The singers unanimously agreed that the format is more refreshing than playback singing. “MTV Unplugged is an empty playground and any musician’s paradise,” Monali Thakur said. Thakur rose to fame as the voice of Moh Moh Ke Dhaage from Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). “We got the chance to express some beautiful melodies in our own way, which we always do not get the opportunity to do,” she added.

Folk fusion artiste Angarag Mahanta, better known as Papon, revealed that he was not going to stick to folk music this season.

The year might be dominated by remastered and recycled numbers, but the musicians featured in the show showed no signs of following the trend. “I haven’t done it because I don’t think anybody has approached us with the idea,” Mahadevan said. “We remade the song Pretty Women [from Kal Ho Naa Ho] about 14 years back, but Karan Johar paid a hell of a lot of money to get the rights from Roy Orbison, the original composer of the song. We didn’t just take a song and remix it.”

AR Rahman in MTV Unplugged.
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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.


During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.