Bhargavi Venkatram never thought she would sing Carnatic music one day. Especially professionally. Sure, she was surrounded by it, with father and renowned violinist H.K. Venkatram and mother and aunt, Triveni and Kavitha (known as the Saralaya Sisters) exposing her to it constantly, an action that she said provided her “no respite” from what she now calls her full-time, passion-filled profession.
“If anything, I loved Bharatanatyam! I would attend concerts as a virtue of my musical lineage and hum songs and ragams, but I never took it seriously,” she admits. Of the concerts she attended, vidwan and guru T.M. Krishna’s voice was “undoubtedly her favourite,” turning her, for the first time, towards Carnatic vocal music as late as the ninth standard.
Music and academics
“I balanced music with my studies through college and somewhere in the process of learning, I fell in love with it. By the time I finished my degree, I was sure this is what I wanted to do,” she shares.
Living in Bangalore, of course, did not make things easy, with Bhargavi juxtaposing engineering exams with blink-and-miss trips to and from Chennai during the Margazhi Season, eager to soak up whatever during the month-long period.
It was here that a musical home played a big role. With basics instilled at an early age by her mother and aunt and nuances honed by her father, she was able to blossom under the guidance of Krishna. It has been a decade under his tutelage and over the years, she has come to know him as a guru and a guide.
Social awareness was a common attribute between Krishna and Bhargavi’s family, which runs the Prathyarpana Foundation, through which they want to give back with what they know best — the performing arts. Proceeds go to orphanages, cancer hospitals and the education of underprivileged girl children. Bhargavi calls it the most gratifying part of her artistic journey.
“Art is what keeps the Earth alive, so if every artiste contributes in their own way, the world could become a much better place,” she says.
“The performing arts have given us so much. If we can simply introduce that in schools across the country as part of the curriculum, it’ll give children clarity, piece of mind, and the potential to mature and face any challenge. As an artiste, we have no greater ability than to share what we know while continuing to grow and learn,” she smiles simply.