DEDICATED: Dr. Atindra Sarvadikar



A NEW wave of exciting artists is keeping classical traditions rooted in centuries of history alive in an Indian music landscape increasingly dominated by commercial genres such as Bollywood, Bhangra, Pop and Western Contemporary.

One of these heroic talents is the trained singer and composer Dr. Atindra Sarvadikar. The multiple award-winning maestro from Mumbai, who learned his craft under musical masters, fascinated the audience with his voice and won a lot of recognition for his mastery on stage. His compositions have captured the hearts of cross-generational music connoisseurs.

Eastern Eye met with Dr. Atindra Sarvadikar to share about his journey, composition work, inspirations, musical heroes and challenges in preserving classical traditions.

What first connected you to Indian classical music?
My mom is a high school music teacher, so I’ve had the opportunity to listen to good music from childhood. At the age of five I began to learn Indian classical music with her.

How do you look back on your trip?
I was born in Solapur, a small district in the south of Maharashtra. Since 2003 I have been traveling from there to Mumbai every week to see Padmabhushan Dr. Prabha Atre further education. In 2007 I moved to Mumbai and had a lot of struggles. I’ve been doing Riyaz for hours. Music has given me economic stability and also inner peace, so I am very happy with my trip. My concerts always get satisfactory reactions from my audience, which are worth my efforts.

Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
In 2016, at the age of 30, I earned a PhD in Music from the University of Mumbai. It was the University of Mumbai’s first doctorate in a musical field. During my studies, I received 28 prizes in national and state competitions. The only male and most important student of a legendary artist like Padmabhushan Dr. To be Prabha Atre is not an easy task. It takes lifelong commitment. I mostly sing my own compositions, which I am proud of.

Are you telling us about your book?
My Marathi book on the analytical study of changing trends in Kirana gharana will be published with an audio CD. Its English translation is in progress. Another book in the form of short stories of people who make music is coming soon.

How much does a live performance mean to you and which one do you remember most?
Performing live is everything for me and something I’ve always dreamed of. At the age of 19 or 20 I was invited by the legendary Padmavibhushan Gangubai Hangal to the Sawai Gandharv Music Festival Kundagol, Karnataka. She was in the audience and heard my entire performance and heartily blessed me after it was over. That was so unforgettable. Two years ago I had the opportunity to perform at an awards ceremony where my guru, Dr. Prabha Atre the Bharatratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Award was given by the government of Maharashtra, at which Pandit Jasraj was present. He got up and clapped for me after my performance, which was so memorable.

What kind of music do you prefer to play live?
Classical Hindustani music, khyal and semiclassical, thumri / dadra.

Tell us about your original compositions?
I prefer to perform my original compositions so I have composed in many musical forms such as Bhajan, Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal, Sufi and Fusion. I have also created over 200 khyal compositions that will be published in book form next year. In my compositions I have experimented with known and rare ragas and talas.

What do you strongly associate with classical music?
Its deep and peaceful nature. Classical music is very creative and leaves a lot of room for originality.

Is it a challenge to keep the classical tradition alive in a world dominated by commercial genres?
Sometimes it is difficult because no classical music medium pays much attention to it. Television and radio often behave as if there were only film music. It is difficult for outsiders to establish themselves in classical music circles. There is no funding for young and aspiring artists. You have to motivate yourself. Nowadays, people are more attracted to reality show winners than classical music legends because they can only watch reality shows on TV. So yeah, it’s a challenge.

What are your future hopes for Indian classical music?
It will be alive and will continue to bring peace, spiritual growth and contentment to the world.

What can we expect from you next?
I want to be an original artist with original content. I am a sincere student of our tradition and I am working hard to advance this path.

Who is your own musical hero?
First my guru Dr. Prabha Atre. Her role as an amazing performer, researcher, composer, teacher and thinker has always enriched our tradition of Indian classical music. Apart from her, I deeply admire the artistry of Kishori Amonkar, Kumar Gandharva, and Bhimsenji.

What do you like to hear
I enjoy listening to all genres of music, from folk to Bollywood to western.

What is the greatest life lesson that music taught you?
Continuous self-refinement, focusing, and ignoring unworthy stimuli that come along on this path.

What inspires you
Good music, interviews with greats, natural beauty and people watching. Good poetry inspires me a lot. I always feel that my alaaps should come like good poetry.

Why do you love music
Music has the power to make you forget yourself. I cannot describe the feeling I get when I produce a nice musical phrase or perfectly tuned notes.