PASSIONS Engineering student Amit Anand dreams of conducting orchestras and is rising, note by note

At 21, if you've already decided that college bands are passé and music should be, like Bach said, the recreation of the soul, you should be headed in the right direction. Amit Anand putting his heart and soul into his music is trying to make inroads into the music industry brimming over with newbies by the minute.

It's a tough call, considering his parents also expect him to anchor himself securely as an engineer. The final year medical electronics student recently, along with friend-lyricist Vinay Kumar B.S. cut a Kannada album “2Way”. He's already feeling the irony of the industry — he's had to hand out more free copies of the CD than he's had people buying them; he's flattered that websites have already pirated his music and made it available free on the Internet…but what the hell, no one will buy now. He recorded a lot of the analog bits in his home studio, raised money from his father and friends, sponsorships, and put together the album of eight songs that treads across jazz, blues, hip hop and many other genres.

Trained in western classical piano, Amit comes from a family of musicians — his father plays the guitar and tabla, his mother is an AIR artist, his mother's sister Chandrika Gururaj is the famous Kannada playback singer. “Indian classical music has been in my family right from my grandfather. I thought ‘That's anyway in my blood' and decided to give western classical symphonies and orchestras a try. It's my dream to conduct a symphony.”

Self-taught on the keyboard, he's been learning the piano for the last three years. “I'm not happy with the band culture happening in colleges. Once a person matures in music, I feel there should be a strong reason for doing music. I want music to do good for the world, not just me,” says Amit.

He's had his fair share of experimentation. At one point Amit had a band that played in ISKCON called Yugadharma — “They had this idea that people don't turn to God because its boring. So they used rock music to attract youngsters to God. But there, people objected saying ‘Why bring God into club and rock kind of music?'” It was on this stint that he went to a recording studio and met music makers Pranav Iyengar and Hriday Goswami (they later collaborated with him on the album). “With Pranav I got an opportunity to do jingles for radio and TV and corporate jingles for companies. I also did background scoring for Kannada TV serials, where you compose bits for various emotions…”

Amit says he did audition to get into A.R. Rahman's KM Music Conservatory, playing two of his compositions on Rahman's piano — he had to give it up because the cost was too high and there was pressure on him to complete his engineering.

He now hopes to study music arrangement and composition in a university abroad. “I want to work with A.R. Rahman, Yuvan Shankar Raja and then come back to the Kannada film-music industry. If ‘Mungaru Male' set a benchmark, everyone has stuck by it; there have not been too many changes after that.” He's keen on learning the technicalities of making music for the movies before he steps into the field.

To listen to excerpts from Amit's album, check

This column features those who veer off the beaten track.