From love of cricket, Facebook and friends, Rithvik Raja now speaks only Carnatic music
Young, enthusiastic musician Rithvik Raja is an artiste whose fine lines are delineated by none other than a socially-responsible musician guru like T.M. Krishna.
In an informal chat with the Rithvik Raja on the sidelines of Swanubhava’s grand opening in Bangalore, one can’t but admire his tenacity of purpose as he discloses a few personal likes and dislikes. We can’t help but draw a comparison to the present day youth who are professedly more keen to drift along the modern path of ‘managing’, ‘marketing’ and ‘making it in life’. Here is a cricketer who loved trendy clothes, fast food, friends, Facebook and…Carnatic music! Now, that doesn’t seem to gel with the catalogue presented. But then Rithvik Raja’s USP is just this.
Since he is still young by Indian standards surely the parents had to have a say in the matter! “My mother Sudha Raja is a musician and from my childhood I watched her taking home tuitions in music. I would generally attempt to sing discreetly in another room and perceiving my interest, she initiated me into music when I was barely four. Though I was tuned to music, I was ardently into playing cricket and honestly music took a back seat. Once that phase passed, I realised my passion and penchant for music and joined an academic course in college which would spare me ample time to pursue music,” says the artiste. Sulochana Pattabhiraman came into the picture as his second guru. The crackling stage in voice for a boy often necessitates a male guru according to most musicians. “At this juncture of my life, I happened to attend a concert of T.M. Krishna and it’s no surprise that I fell in love with him. I wanted to learn from him and none other. With great effort TMK relented but with something like a show cause notice that I’d have to look out for another guru in case I require more time to mend. I still can visualise the casual, interactive class that took place between us on the very first meeting. Thank heavens,” Rithvik rolls his large eyes heavenwards, before he quips, “it’s a decade and he still trains me as my guru. I’m ever so fortunate.”
“My first public stage music was in 2005 and it was well received and I must say my Vivekananda College management was so liberal in encouraging me despite lack of attendance.” To date, this bright musician is going great guns doing his masters in music alongside. Rithvik moved into Swanubhava, a performing arts organization started by his guru after his initial tryst with Youth Association for Classical Music (YACM) merged with Bombay Jayashree and TMK’s Matruka.
Clad in the typical south Indian vesti and kurta, Rithvik moves around like an epitome of real young India at Swanubhava fest. “Our objective is to tap our kids at a basic level and kindle an interest in our art forms. I can say majority of our youth are averse to classical arts. Those who take up our arts are also too ready to bend backwards to make themselves acceptable. Personally, I hold the view that we don’t need any other genre to bridge the gap between the past and present as far as classical art is concerned. Indian Carnatic music is blemish-less and can be fed in right earnest to the audience from children to adults. It need not be diluted or modified to be accepted. I’m not for fusion.” That’s a bold and brave heart in someone so young.