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Shruthi Mohan is a singer with a classical background, and does stage shows. She is also a full time student doing her CA. How does she balance the two?
Ever wondered how hard it is to balance a musical career, whilst being a full-time student? Well, meet 23-year-old Shruthi Mohan, singer, YouTuber and CA aspirant who has met and worked with Oscar Winner, A.R. Rahman.
Shruthi Mohan has always loved music. She has sung songs in all the South Indian languages and in Hindi. During her school days, she had won many prizes in a lot of Classical Music and Light Music Competitions. She has performed many live shows with some legendary musicians who work for celebrated music directors like AR Rahman, Arjun Janya and Harris Jeyaraj.
In this interview, she explains how she balances her career as a singer, whilst preparing for her CA exam.
How long have you been pursuing music? Which genre do you specialize in?
I started learning Carnatic Classical Music when I was four years old. Because my father had a transferable job, we constantly kept moving and I had to keep changing teachers as well. I don’t really specialise in one particular genre. I prefer drawing inspiration from various styles and genres and incorporate that into my singing.
There is a belief that Classical and Hindustani Music are hard to learn and are ‘not cool’ enough. What’s your opinion on this?
Classical Music needs ample hard work and dedication. Consistent practice sessions are a must when it comes to classical music. I personally love classical music because my roots lie there.
And about the ‘not-so-good/not cool’ statement: It depends on the way of presentation. People these days are coming up with extremely innovative ideas like singing Carnatic Krthis with ukulele, trying to fuse English Music with Indian Classical, presenting unplugged versions of krthis and thumris and a lot more, which I have observed, is being well received. Creativity has absolutely no boundaries!
You chose to pursue music as a hobby, instead of a career. How do you balance your education and your passion? Have you faced any hurdles whilst doing so?
Yes, it has been difficult considering the toil that a student of chartered accountancy has to undergo. When I started off with my coaching classes, I used to leave home at 6: 30 AM and come back only by 9.30 PM. There was absolutely no time for music. Even though I was doing well in academics, I felt like a major part of me was missing. That is when I decided to quit college and pursue my B.Com through correspondence.
Thankfully, after that break of a year or so, my uncle, who is an event manager started giving me opportunities to perform on stage, and that is how I started getting back on track.
Again during my internship days, it was challenging. There were days when I had to travel to Hosur from Bangalore every day for more than a month and I used to get back home only at 10 PM. I used to practise for an hour, after that because I had a show that month. Certain days were crazy busy and I hope, the struggle will be worth it .
Was it a difficult choice to pursue music as a hobby instead of a full-time profession? Can you tell us why you made this decision?
To be honest, I did not prefer my source of bread and butter to be music. Considering the competition outside, survival after a point becomes difficult.
I have always been keen on a strong educational background before delving into music full-time. Sometimes, I do feel I could have chosen and focussed more on music but its never too late to make things right. To me personally, when people I haven’t really met send me messages on social media talking about how my songs give them peace, how it helped them get out of depression brings me joy. Once a paralysed person told me that my music helped them focus. Such messages give me encouragement to continue music, and I consider that as my biggest award. It’s so heart-warming to be able to make a difference to someone’s life.
Is it true that you have met and worked with Oscar Award Winner A.R. Rahman? Can you tell us briefly about that encounter?
Yes, I got this incredible opportunity to meet him and perform with him live too.
I came across an advertisement announcing the details of the concert that was scheduled to happen five days from then and had a strong desire to watch Rahman Sir perform live. My mother did not grant me permission but I knew that I wanted to watch him perform.
The very next day, I got a text message from Aircel stating that a contest named ‘Sing with Rahman’ was being conducted, and the winner would get the opportunity to meet Rahman Sir and perform with him in the concert that I was yearning to attend. I sent a recording of mine and did not inform anybody about it. I did not keep my hopes up either. But to my surprise, two days before the concert, I was announced the winner, and I actually got the chance to meet him and rehearse with him too. It’s a moment that I am yearning to relive again!
Do you have any advice for women who wish to pursue music?
All I would say is, stay true to your passion and do not give up on it, because, when you do, its almost like giving up on a major part of yourself. Practice and self-confidence are the keys to improvement. Mastering any form of art takes time and its important to be patient. Small steps that you take every day can actually lead to something amazing in the future.
For example, practising voice culture for twenty minutes a day consistently can gradually mould your voice to enable you to give the best output in some time. Just keep working on your goals. Don’t compare, dont judge, don’t listen to people who say “You can’t”. Believe in the magic inside you. Shun the negativity around and keep practising and one fine day, I am sure you’ll be rewarded.
Images source: Shruthi Mohan
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