Vishaal Sapuram might be quiet but his fingers do all the talking for him

It looks like a veena, but it is not; chitravina, like a Hawaiian Guitar, you play the instrument with a cylindrical Teflon rod. A reclusive 22-year-old Vishaal Sapuram looks the most comfortable when he is lodged behind the chitravina, as his nimble fingers strum and glide across fretless 21 strings, evoking a lilting tune; his countenance spills over bliss. A proficient Carnatic vocalist and an instrumentalist, Vishaal hasn’t ‘officially’ studied music but has been training since the age of 3. He chose to master the rare instrument, the chitravina after his parents took him to a concert by Ravikiran. “I was fascinated by both — the sight and sound of the instrument,” smiles Vishaal. He later went on to learn under the very man who had inspired him, N. Ravikiran. Vishaal doesn’t sing anymore but he teaches music under Ravikiran’s International Foundation.

Music perhaps has been the only constant in Vishaal’s life so far and it shows through his choices, like his decision to pursue Sanskrit along with Economics at the University of Texas. “I learnt Sanskrit to improve my understanding of the sahitya aspect of Carnatic music,” he says. He claims that the course in Sanskrit enhanced his understanding and more importantly appreciation of music. Vishaal confesses that he has been exposed to a lot of Carnatic music and thus didn’t take to any other form. Telugu by birth, Vishaal has extensive knowledge of Tamil as well. “Now I have begun to appreciate Hindustani classical but I am most comfortable with Carnatic,” he says and slips into a soft rendition of ‘Marugelara’.

Vishaal has been performing in the Chennai sabhas quite regularly and is planning to move to India for good to pursue music full-time. “I have always wanted to take up music professionally and I think this is the right time. India is the right place to do it, I would be too isolated if I picked this up in the US,” feels Vishaal.

Vishaal Sapuram was in the city recently to perform under the aegis of Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram and Thyagaraya Gana Sabha for a concernt in memory of Uppalapati Ankaiah.