Singer-composer Raghu Dixit will be live in action on November 9 at the ongoing Mahindra Open Drive festival at Taleigao. In conversation with NT BUZZ he talks about the beauty of serendipity, his recent acting debut, and more
CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
Q. The Mahindra Open Drive festival is all about helping NGOs. Tell us about the social work that you are involved in.
I prefer to keep it silent, but yes, I am involved with various social initiatives including pet welfare, caring for the elderly and terminally ill and educational initiatives mostly focused on working around the region I call home.
Q. You are slated to release your new album soon, which revolves around the theme of positivity. Tell us more about this.
I have always believed in the idea of the arts as an agent of positive social change. There is far too much strife and friction in the everyday work we inhabit, and therefore our duty as artistes becomes one of doormen to a world that revolves around stuff we care about and that concerns us as mankind. As an artiste, I feel my primary motive is to insinuate a sense of fearless hopefulness. A hope for a world that is better than today. A hope for a world that cares. A hope for a world that we would like to see. Perhaps it is poignant to remember the words of Gandhi: ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. I think deep down my music wants me to do that. At least in my music, I can create a world that I imagine and dream of.
The new album finds its genesis in these very primitive and naive thoughts. And that’s all I wish for it.
Q. You are known for the infusion of folk elements in your music. How aware do you think people are about the various folk music styles prevalent in India?
You know we often get trapped in these elaborate academic, often dissective discussions about folk styles and forms, and how they are different and varied and what not. But what fascinates me is quite the opposite – how folk forms, irrespective of what part of the world they come from or what cultures they represent, are essentially a fierce pursuit of happiness. Folk forms have always thrived in its peoples rather than its musicians. A folk musician is only a conductor of a concerto of which the entire humanity is a part. So yes, folk forms are varied but they’re all united in their vision of a happy beautiful world.
Q. At times the songs that you put your heart and soul into don’t do well whereas others which you don’t expect to do well, become popular. How much does this bother you as an artiste?
It may sound conflicting, but here’s my view – an artiste’s life is dichotomous. There is the part where you serve yourself as an artiste and there is that where you serve the audience that inspires you. Now, the two aren’t necessarily contradictory. In fact I find them
complementing. There are songs that touch me. And there are those that do the same to someone else. At the end of the day they’re both equally meaningful. I would be lying if I said I don’t like
someone liking my song. You see that’s the thing about the arts isn’t it? Its ways are inexplicable. When someone somewhere writes to me about a song that moved them, I just feel touched and deeply grateful, even if it may have not done the same to me.
Q. You’ve often stated that you find it easier to make your own melodies rather than learn a song done by someone else. Why is this?
This is the case because my music comes to me. I think I am just a channel. Music to me is an outpouring of a complex set of emotions and thoughts. And much like our thumbprints, we all have distinct ways to view and experience life. The only way I can communicate is by communicating my truth. And it’s easiest done in first person narrative. No?
Q. You recently made your acting debut in the Kannada film ‘Garuda’. Tell us about the experience and what prompted the decision to take the acting route?
Well, it was an accident frankly. I was on the sets and the director had this sudden fancy that I suited the role. I was only too happy to push my own boundaries and try something new!
Q. Is it true that you learned the guitar first at the seminary?
Well it’s a long story. I had this friend who challenged me to play the guitar. I was a trained Bharatanatyam dancer then and for his wisdom he thought it was somehow way too cooler to play the guitar. While I didn’t think much about it then than just to do it for the challenge of it, looking back I am so glad it happened. Today this guitar is my mouthpiece. Isn’t it beautiful how serendipitous our lives are? How random they can be!
Q. And what does this friend have to say about how far you’ve come since then?
Well, we haven’t had the chance to discuss this in detail. But I am grateful to him and I hope he will be proud of me!
Q. What are some other projects you have lined up?
Well, tons! I am endlessly excited about the several collaborations I am working on with world music artistes from such great exotic parts of the world – from Mali to Madagascar to Serbia, Kabul, France and South America. There’s a lot brewing in that hotpot right now.
There is also a project very dear to me that I have just started to work on. It involves bringing together musical narratives from regions that have seen a lot of strife, pain and conflict in the recent past. The idea is to record their longing for a place they reminisce as ‘home’. I am travelling to various places meeting incredible inspiring souls in pursuit of their stories.