Fall among the stars

True to his name, Dhruv stood unwaveringly in what he believed; and chose music.

Last month I’d gone for the launch of a music album by a self-taught percussive guitarist, Dhruv Visvanath. In his opening lines, he quoted his late father, “Reach for the moon, so that even if you fall you will fall among the stars.” And a song composed in his memory, called ‘Father’, was performed. Seeing him on stage amidst psychedelic lights and the appreciative audience saying, “once more” made me go into flashback mode. 

As a young boy he liked to sit on sand piles and throw fistfuls of mud from atop. He was a cute chubby kid and would wave cheerfully as his dad dropped him off at school. His dad’s job took him to different countries, so he studied in different schools in Mumbai, Hong Kong and London. This exposed him to diverse cultures, music and instruments. He formally learned the piano for a few years and then began strumming the guitar. Since there were no musicians in the family, there was no one who could really gauge his skill or set benchmarks. But Dhruv continued playing.

In his teens, he lost his dad. Within minutes his dad was gone and the stability in their lives was hit by a tsunami.  They felt forlorn and bereft – it seemed as if they chose to live on an isolated island. People reached out empathetically, but they seemed to withdraw. For Dhruv, music became his comforting balm and solace. At night he would compose music, strum his guitar and hum along. 

Even while pursuing his degree he played for the college band and won accolades at inter-collegiate competitions.  His music helped him to shut out the noise from outside. He did what was expected – graduated, took up a job; but for him it was so humdrum. So, at night, he did what he loved best – composing new tunes and songs.

When the opportunity came to study further, he had to take some tough decisions about what he really wanted to pursue. He chose music. Concerned voices said that this is an unpredictable field – here today, gone tomorrow; no steady growth/income. Still, true to his name, Dhruv stood unwaveringly in what he believed; and listened to the voice from within.  

The inward journey is more spiritual and musical. Dhruv was recently named as one of the 30 Great Guitarists Under 30 in the world by Acoustic Guitar Magazine USA, alongside artists like Ed Sheeran, Newton Faulkner, and Sungha Jung, and was the only Indian on the list. In September this year, his debut album titled Orion was launched in New Delhi under Vishal Dadlani’s label VLT (Vishal Likes This); and on November 18 and 19, he had album launches in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

I wonder if this is what that little boy sitting on the sand pile had been dreaming about. Each one’s journey is different, but as a family we are linked. My eyes were moist as Dhruv, my nephew, played the last song from his album. The stars are aligned right and bright for him.

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