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Bureaucrat with a voice

World Bank, infrastructure projects, and now singing: Srivatsa Krishna Photo: Murali Kumar K.

World Bank, infrastructure projects, and now singing: Srivatsa Krishna Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Back when he was 18, 1994 IAS gold-medallist Srivatsa Krishna recalls that he received an offer from music director Ravindra Jain to sing Raj Kapoor's films “Prem Rog.” “My father absolutely refused. He asked me to finish my studies and then focus on singing.”

Srivatsa says he has always had two dreams, one to become an IAS officer and the other, to cut an album. And he has just come one step closer to realising dream number 2 after having sung the “Vishnu Sahasranamam Mantra” in Dibakar Banerjee's latest film “Shanghai,” which opens today. “Dibakar used to be my debating rival in college. Around three months ago, we bumped into each other at a coffee shop. He asked me if I still sing well and I said yes, but not as well as I used to. Dibakar insisted and asked me to show up at the studio the next day,” explains Srivatsa, who has his hands full with his career and interests.

The track was then recorded over a couple of hours. This is Srivatsa's first studio experience, but he reveals that this could be the first of many as he has just auditioned for a top music director at his studio in the South.

“I have been singing all through school and college and I have won awards even at the national level though I did not take any formal training then. I feel that's a big mistake now,” says Srivatsa, one of the only IAS officers to hold an MBA from Harvard. It is only over the last two years that he has begun to learn both Hindustani and Carnatic music.

Meanwhile, he had kept himself busy working on many projects, mainly in the infrastructure sector. He then worked at the World Bank for a few years before quitting to pursue a joint Ph.d. with IIT Madras and IIM Bangalore. He is all set to rejoin the Civil Services this year, which now forms another connecting thread with “Shanghai”. “The IAS officer that Abhay Deol plays in the movie, is also loosely based on the experiences of a few IAS officers, including myself. Dibakar has said this himself. Abhay plays an IAS officer in a dilemma.”

The crux of the dilemma, Srivatsa explains lies in his classification of IAS officers into four types. He has even a few discussions with Dibakar about various aspects of being an IAS officer.

“About 30 per cent of the officers are personally honest, though they choose not to fight the system. This means that they won't take bribes but they will not take the responsibility of ensuring that their seniors or juniors are not corrupt. Twenty per cent of the officers take this responsibility to the best of their ability. Forty per cent of the officers are corrupt and the other 10 per cent are extortionists.” The dilemma that Abhay's character faces therefore is of somebody from the personally honest category wondering if he should move to the responsible category and fight the system. Srivatsa has now had quite a launch-pad into Bollywood, a step closer to his musical dream. Is an album forthcoming? “Who knows? Que sera, sera,” he finishes.


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Printable version | May 27, 2022 6:55:10 am | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/bureaucrat-with-a-voice/article3501277.ece