By Amarjeet Kaur, Primary Teacher Pune’s
THE ORCHID SCHOOL,
Our school’s motto being “Locally Rooted Globally Competent Education”, every year, for Founder’s Day, it has been our tradition, to expose our children to world class Indian exponents of the performing arts. In the past, we have had distinguished personalities such as ShubhaMudgal, Sivamani, Dr. Etumanoor P. Kannan, Shri Vikku Vinayakram,Shri Taufiq Qureshi, Shrimati Sukanya Ramgopal, Shri Swaminathan and Shri ShikharNaad to name a few. This year, while she was attending the NH7 Music Festival, our director, Lakshmi Di watched Raghu Dixit perform, and made up her mind then and there – he was the one to invite this year!
He did agree to come, and in the morning of 13th of August, the children and teachers got an opportunity to interact with him. He spoke about his journey as an artist – from being a simple boy from a middle class family with a strict upbringing, to being a path breaking artist who recorded an album that was #1 on the iTunes World Music Charts. And what a journey it was! From trying hard to conform, and succeeding in terms of academic performance, achievements in extra curricular (he’s a gold medalist in MSc Microbiology, and a Vidwat in Bharatanatyam), there was that inner voice that kept telling him to follow his dream.
The children went on to ask him many questions about his life, which he replied with his characteristic wry humour. He asked the children what they thought it cool. He asked them to take a look at him on stage – wearing a lungi and ghungroos! He gave them an invaluable lesson – don’t let others decide what is cool. What you are is already cool, know that! Know yourself and have the confidence to be yourself. He ended the session by singing “Mysore se Aai woh”, which absolutely brought the house down! With that teaser he ended the session, and left everyone looking forward to an evening full of promise.
A bit about Raghu as a performer. He mentioned in his talk that even when he was struggling with the shackles of conformity, it was his voice that set him free – in his own words, he “never felt as free as he did when he sang”. This sense of freedom is still rings out in his voice– you can almost see a songbird breaking its fetters and soaring high into the air on powerful wings. The taar spatak is his friend – he is in his element when he hits those high notes. His deep, full bodied and powerful voice reminds one of Sufi singers, or folkartists of Rajashtan, singing “Padharo mharo des …”. Strong, sure, full throated and direct. He so cleverly fuses western style of singing with lilting Carnatic notes, that his songs may look deceptively simple. But try and hum along, and you realize the skill and mastery involved in composing and singing them.
The evening saw all our secondary and senior secondary children chattering excitedly, dressed for the occasion. Teaches looked their festive best too! After initial introductions by our senior secondary students, he wanted to dive straight in; he said that we should felicitate him only if he did a good job! So without further ado, he started the concert with “Jag Changa” – where he describes the world as good place, and , in spite of all the negativity that we see, each of us, in our own little way, can make this world we live in, beautiful. The catchy “Dyau dyau” soon got everyone’s hands in the air and feet tapping! Raghu complimented our spirited teachers for being so lively and energetic, and at one point even said that the teachers outdid our youngsters!
He went on to sing his stellar hits like “Lokada Kalaji”, which is actually a song written by Sant Shishunala Sharif, a Kannada poet- saint who lived almost 200 years ago! This is the magic that is Raghu Dixit. He is that crossover artist, who can move with ease from the classic to the contemporary, across genres, and languages even. He repackaged those priceless gems written by the saint, and made it appealing to this new generation. It was no surprise that our audience knew “Lokada Kalaji” by heart, and sang along with all their heart and soul!
He then moved on to other, soulful numbers, like “Ambar se”, which had all sensitive souls in the audience misty eyed, followed by “Yadon ki kyari” (describing his life in Nashik as a child) “Amma” ( a song that he sang in his native tongue Tamil, which was an ode to his mother). He then moved on to lively numbers, such as “Mysore se Aayi”, “Hey Bhagwan”, “I’m in Mumbai waiting for a miracle”,and finally ended with “Kande Kande Parasivana”, which the school choir and the whole audience sang along. Finally, he called all the teachers on stage, and the teachers gave it all they had!
Though everyone wished the evening wouldn’t end, of course it had to. Raghu now allowed the school management to felicitate him and the other artists – Gaurav Vaz on the bass guitar, Parth Chandiramani on the flute, Achyut Jaigopal on the acoustic guitar, and Joe Jacob on the drums. He had an amusing anecdote about each one of his band members that had the audience in splits. Finally, they said their goodbyes, having converted the 100 strong audience into hardcore fans! As they walked off stage, the rest of the crowd lingered on for a while, basking in the afterglow of the experience they had had. It was definitely an evening to remember for years to come. Heartfelt thanks to the school management for this enchanted evening, and to Lakshmi di in particular, for making it all happen.