The violin is one of the most popular musical instrument across the globe. A four-stringed, fretless instrument played with a bow, the violin has been adapted in almost all genres of music.
Somewhere around the early 1800s, Baluswamy Dikshitar, a prominent Carnatic musician and composer, learnt the art of playing the violin. Regarded as the father of the Indian violin, Dikshitar, incorporated the instrument into Carnatic music. Today, the violin is not only ubiquitous in Carnatic music, but is widely used among North Indian classical (Hindustani) musicians. Indian violin is tuned to different adjustments of the strings and chosen by player’s choice. Indians do not use the bridge, chin-rests and hold the violin with its top down at the same time playing while sitting. The instrument has found acceptance among The Gen Next of Indian Classical Music.
One such exponent of this art is Shruti Bhave. Shruti is an emerging versatile violinist with her base in Indian classical music. She began learning violin at the age of 16. Her parents, classical violinist Rajendra Bhave and classical vocalist Sarita Bhave, are the ones who prompted her to take up the violin. Having learnt the skill from eminent musicians like violin virtuoso Vidushi Kala Ramnath, Pt. Milind Raikar, Padmashri Pt. DK Datarji, Shruti now performs at stages across the world.
“As a child I was drawn to dance, I learnt both Kathak and Bharatnatyam for a few years. I had no inclination towards the violin initially. I started learning from Kalaji only on my mother’s insistence” reminisces Shruti while adding that, “Growing up, I used to often sit with other students while my mother taught them, memorising and practicing Alankaras and Ragas. I wanted to be a vocalist if not dancer but my parents did not want me to pursue dance.”
Shruti performed her first solo classical concert in a youth festival curated by ITC-SRA. Her performing experience extended to play for ‘Natya-sangeet’ and Marathi song orchestras too. She quit her job and joined an all-female world folk fusion band ‘Indiva’.
“That was a turning point for my career. It was a new beginning,” says Shruti. Shruti, who has been performing at prominent classical music platforms, feels the Indian classical music on some front has become a package in terms of performances. Along with music festivals, social media is used with an amazing reach to audiences through organisations like Hamsadhwani Sangeet, Shashwat Soor. Efforts on various levels are definitely creating the required attention which materialise into platforms for newer and promising musicians. But something is amiss for Shruti.
“The Authenticity is fading except a few musicians of my generation and later who are so promising and assure Hindustani music will remain as rich and intact,” opines Shruti, adding, “Being a pure classical musician is a totally non-commercial intention, is what I feel.”
Agreeing with the fact that modernisation is inevitable and is the way forward, Shruti says,
“Right fusion is the best way to modernise. I have never displayed myself as a western classical violinist, but having performed in upright holding style, I am expected to perform that way which definitely makes an impressive impact on audio visual medium like stage performances.”
Being multi-faceted does bring an artiste more work but also can aid them financially.
“I think it is really important to be multi-faceted, if you can excel. With Bollywood influences and mediocrity taking over the layman audiences, it is our responsibility to sustain interest with a balance of content and entertainment,” explains Shruti.