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As a toddler, Rithwik Raja was was fascinated by the echoing chorus of students that came from a room in his house, where his mother taught Carnatic music. When he was all of three, his parents noticed him humming to himself as he played with his toys. So, he was permitted to sit with other students during his mother's classes. Chennai-based Carnatic vocalist Raja, a disciple of famous artiste TM Krishna, has come a long way since then, and is busy with back-to-back concerts throughout India. He will give his debut solo performance in Pune on March 3 at Sawai Gandharva Smarak Hall, Shivajinagar.
"About two or three years ago, I would be given a list of concerts a week or two in advance. Then I would plan my line-up and the sequence of the concert. However, now I have learnt to let my performance be led by my mood and the mood of the audience. Of course, I do oblige my audience if they want me to sing a particular raga, but most of the time, my performance is based on spontaneous improvisation on stage," says 23-year-old Raja, who had visited Pune in 2007 with his Guru.
Besides learning music under the guidance of his mother for six years, he was also taught by his mother's guru, Sulochana Pattabhiraman, for two years. But as he grew up into a teenager, his voice started to crack. That's when he decided to take lessons from a male guru. "A male guru relates to the problems that a boy faces during adolescence. The connection between a guru and his student is very important. I was glad that I was chosen by TM Krishna as disciple," says Raja.
Apart from music, Raja's passion also lies in cricket, photography and digital designing. In fact, he was part of the under-15 state team of Tamil Nadu. At the age of 15, Raja found himself on the crossroads of life where he had to choose between music and sports as career. "When you have a music teacher at home, you don't take it very seriously. I was more drawn towards cricket. However, I had to make a choice and after weighing the pros and cons, I decided to take up music," says Raja, who also pursues photography as a hobby.