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We Investigate The Reason Why There’s No Woman In Raghu Dixit’s Band

  • IWB Post
  •  January 23, 2018


The ground inside Clarks Amer was reverberating with the voices of Hindi speaking folks trying earnestly to sing in a language of the South.

Here, you can try learning it too:

Lokada kaalaji madatheenanti

Ningyaar byaadantyaar maadappa chinti

The musical event of the JLF ended on a high with The Raghu Dixit Project teaching the literary intellectuals how to gyrate to songs in Kannada. And while a section of the crowd kept screaming for ‘Hindi gaana next,’ Raghu was kind enough to remind them that they were in a literary festival celebrating language.

Raghupathi Dwarakanath Dixit is an Indian singer-songwriter, producer, and film score composer who is the frontman for The Raghu Dixit Project, a multilingual folk music band. I caught up with him after the show, with a few questions and ruminations on my mind.

‘What are you doing here?’ he asked surprisingly.

It wasn’t the first time I was meeting him. The last time was in Windsor in 2012. Then I was a dancer. Five years had passed since. So, I guess, he was just amazed to find me as ‘his interviewer’ here in Jaipur.

We sat with a coffee and hot chocolate. (The coffee was for me)

“I’ll not take much time. Just, 11 questions. Okay?” I remarked.

“That’s my lucky number,” he replied.

Me: Who is Raghu Dixit at the end of the day?

Raghu Dixit: I am an attempt at being free-spirited. I am not one yet; still craving to get there.

Me: Is success in music, and any art for that matter, a question of fate? 

Raghu Dixit: I am a destiny’s child. I am a living testimonial of how beautiful people walk into your lives, and change the face of it. I have had angels walk into my life to get me to where I am today. It’s a complete filmy story!

Me: Has your music being influenced by tragedy, too?

Raghu Dixit: No, not tragedy! I really think it’s the experiences; the good, the bad, the unusual that has an impact. My music is my bridge that I create and cross to touch another life. And, this bridge gets made out of commonality that the other life finds connections with. 

Me: But how to push oneself to create work where we are continuously evaluated in this report card based world?

raghu dixit at jlf

Raghu Dixit: It’s about chasing the glory. It’s actually the chase which is glorious. You become your work and wake up to the challenge of creating that next big song every day. With every song I think, this is it. However, this entire process is very consuming and having lived through all the failures and the glories, you always come out with a story to tell.

Me: Why Hindi songs and music?

Raghu Dixit: Though Hindi is not my language, it is the language of our land. It’s not even a language I can think in. Most of my vocabulary came from Doordarshan. *chuckles*

The only time I created lyrics was for ‘Mysore Se.’ That song exhausted me of all my Hindi words. Since then, I only compose music. I get the song written by those who can. But we also incorporate poems from our histories and give them a new life; like the poetries of the great Santha Shishunala Sharifa from the18th century.

Me: How does marriage work for an artist?

Raghu Dixit: As artists, we continuously push each other. We rub off our energies on each other. Today, my wife is so much more driven and ambitious than I am. We become triggers for each others’ pursuits. 

Me: Your favorite fan moment? In a case where you were a fan.

Raghu Dixit: Nothing! I don’t have one. Being too narcissistic an individual, I don’t think I can call myself anybody’s fan. Except for my wife Mayuri Upadhya. (She is the artistic director of the Bangalore-based dance company Nritarutya) I am a huge fan of her work and have always been.

Me: How can we make music more accessible? In India, music finds its natural roots in the village communities like the Manganiar of Rajasthan. How do we shift it to a valid career choice for the ‘higher classes?’

Raghu Dixit: Well, why do we need to? They already are in the higher class, isn’t it? *chuckles again* To be honest, I have seen people who could have been just the most amazing artists & yet threw away all that because they could afford to, and I have seen people leave their comforts and get their hands dirty just because they had to.

Me: What is travel to you? And how has that changed your music?

Raghu Dixit: Oh, travel is just beautiful! It is my trigger to all my work. I travel a lot because of work. But, when I travel for travel is when the most inspiring moments are encountered. The diversity that greets you when you travel all across the subcontinent is just incredible. 

Yes, my music has evolved, but it has not changed. I have really tried to remain rooted. That’s the reason I still work from my hometown Bangalore and not Mumbai. Mumbai will really change my work and I don’t want that to happen.

Me: Why do we not see many female members in The Raghu Dixit Project?

Raghu Dixit: There have been logistics issues with their travels. Most times, they wish to get a family member along and because we run on budgets, it’s not always possible. However, it’s got nothing to do with the talent. I have worked with amazing women talent.

Me: What are you moving towards? 

Raghu Dixit: The happy music! I want to take my happy music to the world. Music that can make you go back and look at your sorrows with a smile. I do not want to make sad music. 

raghu dixit at jlf

Me: Okay, last question! Can music really heal? How do concerts like the Global Citizen heal those in rural/war affected/marginalized zones?

Raghu Dixit: It did not. All that they did at the end was create paper, plastic, and rubbish to be picked up and cleaned. So, something like that becomes a sham then, no?

But music really can heal. I have seen that. I have seen people come out of their despair with a repair. Music has incredible power. 

And with that sentence, his manager and band member Gaurav reminded him that it was time. They were moving to Diggi Palace for a sound check. He greeted me goodbye, and I sat down with my coffee that I finally began sipping.

I sat there alone for a while. Understanding why it took me 5 years to get to open a dialogue with this man.

From a microbiologist to a master level Bharatnatyam dancer to composing music, Raghu Dixit continues to charter seas with his heart as its navigator. All the while though he has his vision fixed on the stars.

This article was first published on January 24, 2017.

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