Carnatic vocalist Nisha P. Rajagopal is glad she came back from Canada
Perhaps she was too young to decipher what was in store for her when her parents decided to relocate from Canada to India as she was barely 10. Two decades later, Nisha P. Rajagopal is an accomplished Carnatic vocalist and a sought after artiste. Nisha started learning Carnatic music from the age of five in Toronto. Her mother, Vasundhra Rajagopal, was her first guru. The family moved to India, first to Delhi and then Chennai. Thus, Nisha Chennai came under the tutelage of T. R. Subramaniam and late Calcutta Krishnamurti. Nisha is currently learning from veteran gurus P.S. Narayanaswamy and Suguna Varadachari. Holding an engineering degree in Electronics and Communications, Nisha is also an ‘A’ grade artiste of All India Radio.
Nisha, who was in the Capital recently for a performance, says that her parents had been contemplating moving to India as they wanted her and her sisters to grow up in this country. A chance meeting with T.R. Subramaniam at Pittsburgh, USA, in 1991 led him to take her as his student for a summer course there. Impressed with her musical talents at the end of the course TRS, as he is fondly known in music circles, suggested to Nisha’s parents that she should continue her training with him. “Since there were no facilities like Skype, etc., as we have now, my parents took the decision to move to India,” explains Nisha. She adds quickly, “Initially, we found it tough to manage the schooling and way of life in India, but eventually we got used to it.”
In the two decades since returning Nisha to India, she completed her engineering degree from the University of Madras while growing as a performer and getting recognition. Looking back, says Nisha, “Honestly, there are absolutely no regrets on my part. I truly belong to India and can never imagine living anywhere else. Apart from the achievements that I might have got in the field of music, I feel India is my home and I would love to be here for the rest of my life.”
There is a tendency among students to give up music when they take up professional courses. How did Nisha manage? Recounting a daily routine that began at 4 a.m. with two hours of practice and continued after college hours with attendance at a music class or concerts, Nisha says, “Somehow I managed to do these together, although at times I did require a push from my parents. I am very thankful for that push today.”
However, subsequently she quit her job and went for music full-time. “I am really lucky to have parents, grandparents and siblings who support me when I take such decisions. Now, my husband and in-laws are also equally encouraging and understand the demands of a career in music.”
Was it not easy to learn music from her mother compared to her other gurus? “No. My mother was very strict with me like she was with all her other students. The discipline she inculcated in me has stayed till today,” says Nisha, adding she feels extremely fortunate to learn further from other great vidwans.