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A musical odyssey

Flautist Rasika Shekhar

Flautist Rasika Shekhar   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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Trained in Carnatic flute and vocal music, Rasika Shekhar has a versatile musical passion and also traced her steps into Bollywood

She made a foray into a traditional male citadel when she was 13 years old. Strumming tunes as prolifically as her male counterparts, Rasika Shekhar’s flute spells melody. Trained in Carnatic flute and vocal music from an early age, Rasika agrees that there is a certain stereotype associated with women instrumentalists. “People assume that a woman may not have the strength to play the flute. But when I picked up the instrument, the stereotype didn’t matter. I was fascinated by it. And I believe that music speaks for itself. But yes, the general perception needs to be changed. People assume as a woman you must a singer. If we can break this stereotype, it would encourage many more women,” says the 25-year-old flautist, who spoke to MetroPlus ahead of her talk at the third edition of TEDx (Technology, Entertainment and Design) at GITAM University.

Born in Dubai, Rasika later moved to the US where she pursued her musical passion. Rasika started her musical career in 2011 with a vocal ghazal performance tour of the US accompanying the ghazal maestro Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan.

Her desire to delve deeper into Indian classical music brought her to India. Today, she has worked with celebrated musical trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and also performed live with the Ehsaan and Loy production in MTV’s Coke Studio Season 2. One of her most memorable experiences has been at the World Flute Festival held in Delhi last year where was the only Indian flautist to stage her own production, which ranged from classical, contemporary to fusion instrumental collaborative music and received a strikingly warm response from the audience.

“Flute was traditionally used in folk music and as a solo classical instrument. Now, a lot of innovation is happening in the space of music and it has brought about a great musical fusion. Playing the Indian bamboo flute and presenting a fusion production with a guitarist at the festival was a first for me. That was a great learning experience,” says the young flautist, who has performed solo classical flute concerts in the US, Chennai and Mumbai. She is currently taking music lessons in flute from Shashank Subramanyam and also learning Hindustani Classical from Srikant Vaikar.

In order to diversify her musical capabilities, Rasika also sings other forms of music like Jazz and Blues. But the one form that she fell in love with is ghazals. “It is a beautifully poetic and surreal,” she says.

In 2012, Rasika’s made her Bollywood debut in the critically acclaimed film Dekh Indian Circus for which Shankar Ehsaan Loy offered her an opportunity to sing. Her association with the musical trio took her to Australia where she performed with them during their international tour. Rasika has also sung in Kill Dill and 2 States.

“Music is a form of expression. Personally for me, music opened me up as person and made more receptive to new things,” she says.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2018 6:06:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/interview-with-rasika-shekhar/article6771540.ece

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