Unlike most people, R Sridhar actually enjoys his morning drive to the office. On any given day, it takes him at least an hour and a half to reach his workplace, thanks to Mumbai’s notorious traffic. What’s the secret to his cheerful mood, you wonder? “I routinely listen to Carnatic music on my way to work. That is a time of the day when I can forget about the surrounding and enjoy my ride,” says the CEO of IndoStar Capital. What’s more, Sridhar has a collection of 30,000 hours of recorded Carnatic music in his possession.
He was brought up in a family where everyone appreciates music; in fact, some were good singers too. As such, a seven-year-old Sridhar began listening to Carnatic music along with his two sisters. Sridhar remembers sitting in a room with their music teacher, but his sisters would quickly become jaded of the lectures. But for him, no session was ever too boring. His sisters, on the other hand, did not pursue music any further. He made it a point to attend every Carnatic music concert that would take place in Chennai, together with his friends.
Sridhar shifted to Mumbai at the age of 27 in 1986 with his wife. Not long after, his friend gifted him a collection of pre-recorded music cassettes. Ever since, Sridhar has been recording concerts, and then converting and storing them in cassettes and CDs. Lalgudi Jayaraman and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer are his favourite artistes. Sridhar points out that there is something unique about their names. Usually, Carnatic musicians are named after the city they belong to like Lalgudi after the town in Tamil Nadu. Sridhar has been attending concerts by these musicians since he was a child.
He admits that in the beginning, although, he enjoyed the music, he could not understand it clearly. “Carnatic music is tough, with all the ragas and swaras. One needs to be really passionate to truly learn and understand it,” he explains. The question that arises then is, what does Sridhar want to do with this huge collection? The proud collector plans to launch his own music app where everyone can share music and listen to his collection. Sridhar’s collection comprises music from the 1950s and 1960s. Hence, an app would help him to disseminate the music. “I don’t understand the people who do not like music. There is a big vacuum in their lives which they need to fill,” he concludes. Sure enough, sharing his collection would be a step in that direction.