National winner Sai Srikar from Vizag talks about his love for the Mridangam and how he made it to the top.

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National winner Sai Srikar talks about his love for the mridangam and how he made it to the top.

“I had free time in the evening and wanted to take up an activity and i chose Mridangam”

That’s how, at the age of 8 years, Sai Srikar Velichety enrolled himself as a student of G Venkat Rao for learning the mridangam. With no musical family background, and sheer interest keeping him in the line, this BTech student from GITAM University, has set his sights on balancing a career in the software industry along with his passion for the mridangam.

“There isn’t just one role model, but many legends in the industry.”

Talking of innovations in classical music, he shares that Carnatic classical is one form where constant innovation is the norm. And so he admires the various performers in the industry. Over the years, he too has performed at various sabhas and many state-level competitions. He won the Gold medal at Kakinada too before his recent win at the All India Radio competition.

“The All India Radio national win comes to the city after a gap of 11 years.”

The AIR competition is an annual affair where classical artistes from the country participate. Conducted at two levels, Srikar shares that he was pretty confident about the local win. However, for the nationals, recordings are taken and sent to the panel of judges. So while he was satisfied with his performance of mridangam, he was unsure of how others were performing.

“It was mesmerising to hear the best perform.”

When he came to know that he had won the national round too, he was elated. The award ceremony held at Hyderabad brought all the winners across genres together, and they performed. It was a great experience he shares, adding that one who did not know about music would have enjoyed it too.

“Youth in the Vizag need encouragement to learn classical music.”

While sabhas in places like Chennai are usually packed, it isn’t the same for Vizag, and that is a major factor dissuading youth from pursuing it. So, despite many regular performances, more audience would really encourage the youth, he shares. With future plans of more performances and the accolade of being a B grade artist at the AIR, we wish him the best and hold the fond hope that more youth like Srikar will take the legacy of our rich classical heritage forward.

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