A Musician of Today and a Man of Many Talents – Rajat Tiwari
Q.Having listened to your music, you definitely sound like you must have been around music your whole life. Was that true, or was there another way that you got into music?
A. My father, Rakesh Tiwari, is a folk artist himself. So that kept me around music a lot ever since I was a child. My father is a very renowned folk artist in Chhattisgarh. He dabbles in folk theatre, folk music editing and besides, he also has a Sangeet Natak Academy. He also used to teach, so I grew up listening to his folk music. I even learnt a few folk instruments as I grew up. When I was in the 4th grade, that was when my father enrolled me and my elder brother in a classical singing class, where I learned classical music for 6 years. Eventually, I moved on to learning guitar which made me turn to becoming a full time guitarist for a long time in my life. In 2011, I moved to Mumbai from Raipur after my 12th grade. Once I moved to Mumbai, I learned guitar there, to improve my skills further and then started doing live shows in Mumbai.
Q.Where would you say that you get your inspiration from? And who is your all-time favourite artist?
A. Since I’ve been around music all my life, I wouldn’t really say that I got inspiration from anyone in particular. But I would say that my father is like an inspiration to me. He composes folk music and he works in a lot of different plays also. So the plays have at least 10-15 songs, that he creates and composes. I used to think that composing is like a very easy work, so I never really paid much heed to it. But later I realised that if I can do this, why shouldn’t I? Then I started writing and composing my own songs about 5 to 6 years ago. Before that, like I said, I used to be a full-time guitarist. I was a part of the band, as a guitarist, that played in the show “Comedy Nights With Kapil,” when I was 18 or 19. After that I realised that it wasn’t like I wanted to earn a lot of money, so I left the show and decided, now I wanted to do something for myself. I believe that if you want to reach somewhere, it is important to get out of something first and at the right time. So I started making my own songs, joined a theatre group in Mumbai. I had some experience in theatre from my days in the theatre scene in Raipur with my father, so I was able to use that and go ahead.
Q. What was your first project?
A. I don’t really remember my first project. I think it was something in Doordarshan, when I was really young. I did a lot of plays for Doordarshan and Akashwani when I was young. So it was a lot of fun doing those plays and episodes for Doordarshan.
Q. Throughout your journey as a musician, what are the obstacles that you have had to overcome?
A. I think my biggest obstacle in life for a while was that I wasn’t very sure of what I wanted to do in life. I think I’m still going through that a little bit. I still sometimes wonder what I want to be when I’m older. So I just focused on the things that I am doing currently, and maybe work on the things that I want to do in the future. I think things keep happening to you, automatically, and you just have to adjust to it. So if there is not obstacle, how and what are you gonna overcome in order to move ahead and progress in life? So some or the other obstacle is bound to come your way, professionally or personally. That is a constant. So you get accustomed to it and move on.
Q. What do you think are the real struggles in an artist’s life, that no one really talks about?
A. Artists have to deal with a lot of emotions on a daily basis and they themselves, all of them, are very emotional people. Until you really get into feeling emotions, you can’t create any art. I think it is a good and a bad thing at the same time. It can be bad, as in, you can sometimes get too emotional in your life on a generic basis. Every artist has a different struggle. For example, a theatre artist has different struggles; like if you decide to become a full time theatre artist, you are bound to face at least a little monetary and financial issues. And artists don’t really show that they are struggling, because sometimes it comes under the whole concept of showbiz. Every art has a its own different struggle, every place has its own struggle too. It depends upon the art you’re pursuing and where you are. Since I’m in Mumbai, I have a different struggle that I have to face. If someone is in Delhi, they will have to face a different kind of struggle.
One great thing about my career, is that I don’t work under anyone. I mean, if I’m making music for some film or a show, I do have to report to someone, but it still doesn’t control my creative freedom. And I also have the option of saying no to a particular project, if I’m not really interested in doing it. But the bad thing about that can be is that sometimes I don’t have anything to do at all. So it’s like a glass half full/glass half empty kind of situation.
Q. When you decided to become a full time artist, were there any particular struggles with your family or friends, that you had to face?
A. Not from my family. They were always of the philosophy that as long as you are handling your education along with your passion, do whatever you want. Ever since my childhood, I have wanted to do everything. There was a time when I wanted to become a dancer or a choreographer. I used to dance as a kid, in my school, so that held on for a while in my mind, but then I also started thinking that I would maybe want to become a musician – which I did finally end up doing – then I thought I’d become a filmmaker. So that was a little difficult for me – deciding what to do. My real struggle began when I moved to Mumbai. Being in a new and big city with so many people around, not knowing anyone. But I got the hang of things there, and got used to the new city. But I think that is the best part of an artist’s life. I also kept wondering what I could do, if this career didn’t pan out. But I think this happens with everyone.
Q. Other than music, what are the things that you feel like you are passionate about?
A. I have also dabbled in film and filmmaking. I am currently working on writing my own film. Other than that, I love all kinds of sports. I used to play table tennis in school, and there was a time in my childhood, that I also wanted to become a table tennis player. But obviously, I didn’t do that. But then I went on to play other sports like badminton, cricket, football, kabaddi and a lot of other sports too. I love to dance too, like I said before. I also like writing and reading poetry. I write my own songs since I was a kid, so I naturally also wrote poetry. When I moved to Mumbai, I went through a really emotional time, which I could channelise into my poetry – like a lot of other poets do.
Q. Everyone has a big dream and especially artists, whose goalposts in life keep changing and going further ahead. What is that goalpost for you now, and what is that ultimate goalpost for you?
A. I don’t think I have a unique or a different dream than everyone else. I want to explore a lot of different places; I want learn about different arts and cultures of those places. Before going outside, I want to explore India. I want to go to different parts and corners of India, and instead of just visiting, I want to stay there and learn a little about them and their culture. One goalpost I would say, is the I want to make a good film musical.
I never thought that I would write and sing my own songs. During the lockdown last year, I started actually thinking about making my own songs. Like an Indie artist, singer/songwriter. So now I am making my own songs, the type that I want to make for myself. I want to do a few songs about Chhattisgarh, where I come from. So I’m producing these songs, and I plan to collab with a music company and take it ahead. So I’d say my goal right now is to release my own songs, very soon. So next month or the month after that, is when I will probably release my songs.
Q. Other than passion and ambition, what do you think are the qualities that an artist needs to have in order to be successful and happy?
A. I think if you are an artist, you are happy. Getting to do something that you want to do, isn’t a very normal thing these days. Other than that, I think an artist should have a little money, even as a motivation to keep going and to be able to invest in yourself. I think the best thing to do is to keep doing your art, try to do something new in your art. I think if you are making your own art every day or even every week, you will be happy anyway. Try to be something or someone new every day. You won’t be satisfied with your work, as no artist is or should be.
Q. Is there any advice that you would like to give to the artists who are also struggling out there?
A. I would just say that enjoy the struggle that you are facing right now. Because this is the part of your life that you are going to look back on and remember. When you’re old and wrinkly, this is the time that you are going to reminisce about. Enjoy your life as much as you can. And don’t keep worrying about what will be. Keep doing what you are doing, and things will happen.