Raghu Dixit is a happy man. And, he has been one ever since he welcomed music into his life. A gold medalist in microbiology and a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, music wasn’t really his forte. He got into a bet with a friend who challenged him to play guitar. The friend lost. And Raghu, who discovered the sheer joy of playing music, has not put the guitar down since. The strums that won the bet had enveloped him so much that he decided to leave a full-time profession to lead a life of searching, discovering and sharing music. And the rest is the ‘happily ever after’ story of Raghu Dixit.
On World Music Day, Dixit shares glimpses from his world, where everything is music and every day is a music day.
“I started learning classical dance when I was eight. I was imitating, making fun of my cousin sister who was practising Bharatanatyam and my father mistook it for my talent. It continued for eighteen years and I almost chose dance as my profession. But things changed after my dad passed away. One had to earn and take up the responsibilities of the family. I was very good at studies, and got placed in a pharmaceutical company,” Dixit recalls his early days.
Somewhere in between all this, a life changing incident happened. ‘Bharatnatyam is for the effeminate, come play the guitar man,’ challenged a friend. Raghu took up the bet and won.
“Holding the guitar itself was considered a very manly thing. So I told this friend, I will learn and play this in two months, it is no big deal. That’s how it began,” says Raghu. He also started singing along with the instrument and an incredible joy just took over.
Musician duo Vishal-Shekhar was among the first to spot his talent and they presented his debut album. Songs including “Mysur Se Aayi” soon topped the music charts, making him a much sought-after name in the circuit. The second album Jag Changa, released in 2013, also tasted success. In 2016, he established The Raghu Dixit Project, which is best known for taking ancient Kannada poetry and presenting it around the world with a contemporary, global sound.
“Our literature is priceless. The messages mentioned in it are far more relevant today. The younger generation may not even know the existence of it. They are so simple, lucid and yet so powerful. Someone who reads it can easily overcome the complications modern life poses and lead a much happier life. So I feel it is important to remember, reconnect and refresh our relationship with our roots. Indigenous music is the most effective way of doing It,” says Raghu Dixit.
It is perhaps this quality of his music, of connecting the past to rediscover the relevance of the present, that drew Malayalam filmmaker Anjali Menon to Dixit. Her latest film Koode has four songs and background score composed by him. Not a regular at composing for films yet, Dixit considers this a valuable opportunity and sees himself doing more films.
“I started off in 2008 with a Kannada film called Psycho followed by another Kannada film Just Math Mathalli. I also did two Bollywood films – Quick Gun Murugan and Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge. The Bollywood films did reasonably well but the Kannada films flopped. And it affected me very badly. That sort of kept me away from the taking the plunge again. Movies are not about music alone. It is a collaborative thing. Every element has to work in tandem to make the whole work,” says the composer, pinning hopes on his latest outing.
“Anjali’s film has the components in place and it should work. It is an amazing story of relationships, rediscovering parental love and also seeking asylum in one’s roots. Koode has six songs, out of which two is composed by acclaimed music director M Jayachandran. The song tracks of the film are out already and getting exemplary responses.”
The song “Aararo”, composed by Dixit and sung by Anne Amie, has garnered more than 2.5 million views on YouTube in less than week. And even Dixit, who is not into the numbers game, is taken by surprise.
“It is amazing to see the response. I am glad to have got such a welcome. As I mentioned earlier, it is the package that works. The song featured the comeback of Nazriya, a much-adored star down south. She had taken a small break, post her wedding to actor Fahad Faasil. “Aararo” was exclusively made to mark her re-entry to the screen. So the euphoria is also about that,” clarifies Dixit, sharing due credits.
He has also sung in the film and is happy to have got 99 percent accuracy in pronouncing Malayalam, a language which he is not familiar with. “I have sung in Malayalam earlier also. A composer friend Govind Menon had asked me to sing for a track in the film North 24 Kaatham, which I happily obliged. But Koode experience was different. It is a film which I personally hold close to my heart. There are many instances in the film, where I could see myself in the protagonist. My eyes welled up many times during the re-recording. The music just accentuated the emotions in the scene or was it the emotion accentuating the music…one could not say! It had blended so well. It is a unique experience, and I cannot wait for the audience to feel it.”
Koode opens on July 6 and the debutante composer (in Malayalam) has his fingers crossed. “I am hoping Kerala will like my kind of music. And I hope Koode will give me the strength to take up more film projects. I have also started thinking of making a film and have been penning a few ideas,” says the lungi-clad singer.