Between dancing to the tunes of Western pop music and peppy Bollywood numbers, the millennial in us is often forgetful of the beauty that lies in Indian classical music. There are connoisseurs aplenty in the field to learn from, but few as knowledgeable or respected as Aruna Sairam.
Born in Mumbai to a South Indian Mumbaikar family that passionately loved music, Ms Sairam first rendezvoused with classical Indian melodies at an early age, where she learnt the basics from her mother, Rajalakshmi Seetharaman. At the age of 10, she became a disciple of legendary Sangita Kalanidhi Smt T Brinda, and hasn’t looked back since. For her, it has been an exciting and long journey, culminating in the Padma Shri award and in being appointed Vice Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi.
In an interview with Indibeat, Ms Sairam shared her thoughts on Indian classical music as we know it today.
IB: How has music evolved since you started learning back in the day? Have you, or has your style, evolved with time as well?
Aruna Sairam: Carnatic Music, like any other art form, has certainly evolved over the years. It has adapted to current times, while at the same time, not letting go of its roots. My style too, has evolved over the years, and continues to do so right to this day. There’s always something new to learn, after all!
IB: Do you think the average Indian millennial is largely unaware about classical Indian music?
Aruna Sairam: Actually, if you ask me, I believe that the youth of India has been sensitised to classical music to a great extent due to the Internet explosion of information. I find a lot of young individuals attending my concerts from ages 20, to teens, and little toddlers as well! While this is great, a lot more can be done to catch up on this wave. For example, some performances could be geared to address the short attention span of youth and could be peppered with brief comments to evoke interest. This could whet their appetite and compel them to attend the hardcore concerts of Carnatic music.
IB: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians in India today?
Aruna Sairam: For starters, it’s always important to believe in yourself. A sense of confidence is incredibly important, particularly in the case of women, who are constantly told they’re not good enough, whether it’s regarding their careers or even at home. Learn to love yourself first — have patience, be focused, back your talents, and the rest will fall into place.
To know more about Aruna Sairam and her upcoming shows, follow her Facebook page here.