Express press service
Rishab Sharma is a 23 year old with big shoes to fill. He is the fourth generation of the famous Rikhi Ram family, known for making classical instruments, and was also the youngest disciple of the late Pt Ravi Shankar. He is now touring India promoting his favorite project Sitar for Mental Health. As part of the tour, he was in Bengaluru last week where he performed at Bira91 Taproom and Bangalore International Centre.
“This is the second tour of India that I have done in less than six months. It’s just great to be playing live again after two years. Like most artists, I too struggled to cope with the pandemic when we had to perform right in front of a camera. It gave me a lot of anxiety. That’s when I reached out to my audience on social media and realized that my music was also helping them overcome their problems,” he says, explaining the concept of Sitar for mental health. .
Using social media as a way to vent her frustration and take care of her own sanity, her follower count grew from 4,000 to 49.7,000 followers over time. “Before the pandemic, I was at the height of my career performing for over 3,000 people in stadiums overseas. I was also the only solo sitarist playing when Prime Minister Modi came to New York. So going from that to seeing each other every day has definitely had an impact on my mental health,” Sharma says.
As for his performance in Bengaluru recently, it was probably one of his greatest shows. On the occasion, he paid homage to his guruji Pt Shankar on the occasion of his birthday. “The first half focused on meditation while the second half saw local artists from across the city perform together,” Sharma explains, adding that it was a feel-good event where even Pink Panther’s music was featured. played. “There is also an interactive session where I asked the audience to turn to him and tell a stranger about their feelings. It’s a great icebreaker and you end up making a new friend,” he says.
Sharma’s plan to introduce the sitar into modern music is a way to get more people interested in the instrument. He explains: “It’s a need of the hour, to be honest. During the 1960s there was a boom in classical music abroad. But after the death of guruji, it took a step back. We need another maestro like him. I do my best to reach more audiences and interact in a way that concerns them while respecting the playing principles of the instrument.
He is currently working on a lo-fi sitar EP that has never been done before. He has already recorded five titles which he hopes to release by May. Sharma is also working on his other project called Navaras which is a theory of nine emotions. “I’m done with six tracks now and the other three will be released this year,” he says. But the most exciting project he will do is a collaboration with the gully rap scene in Mumbai in May. “I’m going to freestyle with the sitar while the rappers can go head-to-head. Bringing the sitar into the mainstream space while preserving its purity is a way to show its true form,” he adds.
Working with Pt Ravi Shankar
Rishab Sharma started training with famous musician Ravi Shankar when he was 10 years old. “He was very smart with his words. He was strict when we were training, but soon after he was friendly and even asking about who my girlfriend was,” he laughs.