City boy Aravind Bhargav has created a mark for himself with his collaboration with The Sunshine Orchestra founded by the legendary A. R. Rahman. The 28-year-old solo instrumentalist, always aims to uphold the vision and legacy of his guru Mandolin Maestro U. Shrinivas in any creation that he comes up with.
Talking about his introduction to Carnatic music, Carnatic Mandolin artiste Aravind says, "My whole family is a great fan of U. Shrinivas. My mother who is herself a musician and a disciple of M Balamuralikrishna, took me to Guruji when I was 6 years old, hoping he would accept me as a student." The maestro agreed immediately with the faith that music is part and parcel of Aravind’s family, and identity, quite literally.
"I was too young at that time to understand the significance of coming under such an illustrious & awesome artiste’s tutelage." Born and brought up in Chennai, Aravind shares how he always strives to bring authenticity to his creation, reflecting his guruji's teachings.
"He would always say that if you learn any Indian classical art form, you can work with anybody. He believed Carnatic music has the potential to reach all types of listeners. As I have understood, he has always remained true to his beliefs in all his collaborations. In whatever possible way, I am trying to follow it. Jaalam is a kind of experiment where the Carnatic Mandolin is interacting with the string section of the orchestra."
Experience traverses the strict discipline and principles of the learning phase and one becomes more refined, personally, professionally, spiritually and in many other ways. Aravind was destined to come in touch with the legend at a very early age, and he has taken some of his lifetime lessons. "Apart from learning music from him for 17 years, I have been inspired by his dedication and love for his music, his discipline and humility in his interactions with everyone irrespective of age and stature."
Jaalam (Aravind’s collaboration with the Sunshine orchestra) has given Aravind his space in the industry as he is taking his baby steps and beyond a shadow of doubt, social media has played a pivotal role. "The option of sharing is an incredible tool. Even my live concerts get diverse audiences who have discovered me online," says the rising star whose work was appreciated by Rahman and broadcast on the BBC UK.
Aravind cannot hold back his emotions as he talks about his struggle as an independent artiste. "As an upcoming musician, it takes a great deal of mental strength to handle all the stress that comes, where the opportunities are thin. Family support is the backbone for any artiste to thrive. I have been blessed with an incredibly supportive family. They encouraged me to take up music as a career."
Talking about the fundamentals that string together for him, Aravind explains, "I believe that respect for each other’s music is essential for collaborations. Giving space to each other is crucial not only for showcasing the artiste’s individual skill, it also allows different colours and forms to shine through in the synergy as intended by the artistes. There needs to be an innate level of understanding and an open mind between artistes. For instance, extempore improvisation plays a pivotal role for Indian Classical artistes. As for an Orchestra like The Sunshine, they are very organised and they stick to the score. So we had to understand each other’s styles and adapt accordingly. " On collaboration with the Sunshine Orchestra, Aravind goes on, "We try to decide on compositions and styles of music that are not so frequent. Our priority has always been to choose rare Ragas and compositions that also offer ample space for everyone to showcase their advantages. We mutually discuss and arrive on common grounds.
"Aravind has some aspirations. "I believe Guruji wanted mandolin to get a traditional stand in Carnatic music like the Veena, the flute etc. I want to do my bit with many more concerts and collaborations. "
Future projects? "I would like to take projects like Jaalam to performance spaces and more diverse audience. I am looking forward to the December Season, the highlight being my debut concert at the prestigious Madras Music Academy’s annual conference. I think it is a blessing to get to perform there, this year being Guruji’s 50th birth anniversary," says the artiste who has a diploma in audio engineering.