Rajeev Pradhan, VP IT, Arshiya Limited, talks to us about his love for Indian instrumental music and the difference it has made to his life. By Pooja Paryani
While IT might be what takes up every moment of Rajeev Pradhan’s day, it’s his frequent sessions in the music room at home that really sustain him. In the IT industry for over 24 years, Rajeev has been nurturing a deep love for Indian music for an even longer time. “Sometimes even I’m surprised by my passion for Indian instrumental music as no one in my family was ever inclined in this direction,” says Rajeev. “About 25 years ago, I saw Zakir Hussain perform for the first time. I was blown away. Zakir and his father Alla Rakha became my ideals then and I developed a deep interest in learning the tabla. I started listening to more Indian instrumental music and my love for it grew. Despite my interest, I wasn’t able to learn the tabla as there weren’t many teachers then. Later, I got busy with studies in college and after that became a part of the rat race. So I never learnt the art. But, later, when I went overseas for 13 years, I never forgot my roots. I made it a point to attend music concerts by Indian artists whenever they came there. This music kept my close to India.”
Passing on the love
“My love for Indian music and art has also been passed on to my kids. One of my daughters plays the flute, while another is learning Bharatanatyam. They have won several recognitions at different levels for this, and I’m glad that they’re getting to explore opportunities I couldn’t. I am proud and amazed to see their passion for Indian music despite having lived abroad in their formative years.
“My daughter is an amazing flutist and I’ve toyed with the idea of learning from her. But since she’s young and I’m a slow learner she tends to get impatient very quickly. She started learning the flute at a very young age so she’s learnt it quickly, and she expects the same from me. So I have decided to consider training under a professional. Although I might not reach my daughter’s level, one day I intend to share a stage; that will be my happiest moment.”
Creating a little bit of heaven at home
“At home, there’s a separate music room, where I keep musical instruments. There’s a sitar and a separate section dedicated just to flutes. We have 32 different flutes exclusively for my daughter who has completed many levels in her flute training. At night I sit in the music room and listen to music by legendary musicians and feel a deep sense of peace. I love listening to tabla, flute and santoor masters. Zakir Hussain is my favourite tabla maestro and I love the way Hariprasad Chaurasia plays the flute. I can listen to his ragas for a stretch of four to five hours.”
Music teaches you the importance of being organised
“Over the years I’ve realised that I’ve learnt a lot from music. Indian instruments require patience and strength; you have to be organised. You start off with a slow tune and build up to a higher pitch that keeps you completely engrossed. The same goes for IT projects. You start off smooth and easy, but towards the end when it reaches the peak, everyone gets very passionate and invested in the results. So in the back of my mind I’m always reminding myself that I have to sustain the project till its peak. When you see Zakir Hussain play, the moment he reaches the peak he’s completely into it. The actions and expressions say it all! Same is the case with projects; you have to be prepared and organised to take it from the beginning to the end; sustenance is key.”
Success is dependent on teamwork
“A musician rarely ever plays in isolation; there’s always a group of musicians playing with him, supporting him. The same goes at work. You can’t do everything alone, nor can you alone take credit for the success. You have to work together in harmony as a team.”
Hard work is essential no matter what you do
“Whether you’re an artist on an IT head you have to work hard to get desired results. You need to practice, learn, absorb, make mistakes and learn from them. It’s a constant process and you have to keep at it to get better at your job.”
Make the most of every opportunity
“You need to learn the right things at the right time to make the most of the given opportunity. Be it an instrument or a skill, you have to learn it at the right time because if something is on trend but you learn it too late, there’s no point. So stay updated, learn new things and enjoy whatever you do.
“I’ve always believed that a concert is like a project. For a concert to be successful you need great instruments to bring out a musician’s skills, a great musician and a great audience that can appreciate what is being presented. Similarly, in a project you need a hardworking team and good stakeholders that give their opinions to make it successful. Just because you’re the lead artist or the team leader doesn’t mean you can be arrogant. Without the support of those around you you’re likely to fail. So respect that association as well.”