At 33, flautist Sameer Rao is one of the few names to successfully carve out a niche for himself in the area of Hindustani classical music sans an illustrious lineage. We recently caught up with the Bhansuri player, who is all set to release two of his forthcoming albums.
His tryst with playing the flute dates back to a rather interesting episode from his childhood. “I was born in Shimoga, and started playing the flute at 11. Hailing from a family that celebrated classical music, I grew up listening to the soulful renditions by Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pt. Ravishankar and the like. One day, I stumbled upon a flute lying in the attic and the instrument instantly caught my fancy. Initially I started playing some self-taught tunes. But when my father observed my passion, he took me to Pt. Veerabhadriah Hiremath, one of the direct disciples of Pt. Puttaraj Gawai of Veereshwar Punyashram, Gadag. And there began my formal training in North Indian classical music,” smiles the musician, who adds the quintessential, ‘the rest is history’ bit.
Albeit he holds a slew of prestigious titles to his credit, he is seemingly unfazed by the same – The Directorate of Kannada and Culture, Govt. of Karnataka awarded him the ‘Yuva Pratibha’ of the year, in 2004. The Nada Bramha Sangeet Sabha of Mysuru conferred the title of ‘Nada Kishore’ on Sameer in the year 2006, and the Sur Singar Samsad of Mumbai awarded him the title of ‘Surmani’ in 2008. Ask him what success means to him, and pat comes the humble response. “I personally feel I haven’t achieved anything. It is not modesty, it’s a fact! Yes, awards are encouraging in a way, but I don’t get overwhelmed by these events anymore. It doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things.”
Divulging about his forthcoming albums, he says, “One of them is a fusion album based on classical ragas. This will be released soon, but I’m not revealing the dates as yet. The second album is a tribute to my Guruji. It’s my way of showing gratitude for him being there all through this journey. I would be recording two of the ragas, created by Panditji himself, ‘Prabhateshwari’ and ‘Sandhyashree’. There a lot more in store too,” he signs off....