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April 2021

"Authenticity" explores Anirudh, his identities and passions. It encourages thinking about how passion drives quality and hope. What does it mean to be yourself? Stay true to yourself? What does it mean to hear what others think of you? Important thoughts at a time and age it is so easy to feel lost in.

Collaborative effort between Hosanna An & Anirudh Rajagopalan

Photographer: Hosanna An

Editor: Hosanna An

Model: Anirudh Rajagopalan

Director: Anirudh Rajagopalan


|1| Identity

Having lived around 20 years now, it's not too rare you start thinking more about who you want to be. What do you want to be? What do you choose to be? Living under someone else's expectations only means that you are living for that other person. Our generation is so obsessed with trying to follow in others' footsteps, further fueled by things such as social media which makes us compare our lives all the time to others. Steve Jobs once said, "Your life is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." So why should we work so hard to be something that we truly cannot be? I sometimes tried to live like some of my friends, only to find it all completely unsatisfying. It will all naturally erode as we grow up. We will soon find out what we are meant to be, but we can't expect to to know it so early on in our lives. If you understand yourself so well, then why does it matter what other people think of you? 


|2| Interconnectedness

In this world where there is so much interconnectedness, with different cultures and genres coexisting with one another, we have seen a massive plethora of cultures and genres mixing together to create new ideas that ultimately raise the bar and explore wondrous truths of life, including our identities and their ongoing evolutions. While I am rooted in Indian classical music as well as Bollywood, there have been so many other parts of the world with music that has really interested me.

So even now after more than 10 years of training in Carnatic Music, I have naturally dropped in some of these other genres as well out of curiosity, only to find something so magical and so mesmerizing about it all.

Have you ever listened to German or French pop, or even Portuguese Fado? You don't even need to KNOW these languages to experience the interconenctedness and feel the emotion behind the singers behind these genres. Some singers that have really amazed me are German artist Nadia, French artist Amir, and Portuguese Fado singer Cuca Roseta. 

I wrote "The Magic Umbrella" to explore the fusion of Western instrumental styles and mix them with a pinch of Euromusic. One song, "Melancholia" is my attempt at using acoustic guitars to recreate the feeling of Portuguese Fado because I had no traditional Portuguese guitars to do the job. And once I paired these guitars, I was like "Oh wow, this is something great!" That is just one example, but I definitely want to do more, since this desire is also a part of my career.


|3| Shanti & Relationships

"Shanti" is a Sanskrit word, meaning "peace". I think we would all agree that we want to live in peace and harmony and we want to find what gives us peace within.

I found myself facing a new reality, that college was over and my old college friends had started grad school and/or moved to other places to work. We have now entered a new developmental phase where we think more about the best relationships in life. Relationships can be our connections with people and places. But relationships are not just about words; they are about circumstances. They are not just about love; they are about foundations. This is the Shanti that we seek. The new things now and the good things from before are not going to magically repeat themselves, so if we want to maintain these special relationships, we have to establish a foundation of it. That balance has to be maintained though it can be challenging. Love is the foundation of relationships, otherwise, how can it work out?


|4| Authenticity

Expressing oneself can be problematic, depending on societal norms. Doing extensive research on the life and culture of Germany for several months now, I learned that Germany is a multicultural, diverse country like us, but modern-day Germans also struggle to see a society that accepts people for being their authentic self, especially true among its younger population.

As kids, we always wanted to fit into what the larger society tended to accept, without a real or logical reason why such "acceptable" norms were considered "acceptable".

Acceptance is judged by different people depending on what their beliefs, norms, expectations, and judgments about society are. And this is largely dependent on everything they have faced in life.

Authenticity, as a result, is shadowed by trying to live by someone else's expectations. Authenticity has become really subjective. The thing is, being yourself is the greatest gift you can share with society, but society has to be open to seeing your gifts, talents, and life.

I mean, can you imagine if we were all born alike and liked to eat Yagoot all day?


|5| Mentality & Desire

Composing something new definitely has its challenges. If you want to keep going, there needs to be a certain mentality to keep going.

Once you make something great and release it to the world, you tend to lose your desire at the moment - or you get complacent. It's human.

When you celebrate a ton of accomplishments or feats, your appetite is satisfied. When your hunger is satisfied, others are more driven.

So, the challenge is how to maintain the newly-established standard you created to get to where you are. It's definitely worth celebrating newly completed work, but retaining the mentality and desire that got you there in the first place is more important.

If more great new ideas are going to be heard and serve as an inspiration, the mentality and desire have to be there and well-balanced to make these ideas a reality.

Of course, the current generation is not guaranteed to match the previous generation, because the past will never magically repeat itself.


|6| Culture, Tradition, Innovation

Culture is a term that encompasses the majority social behavior and norms found in human society, as well as the customs and beliefs that guide such behaviors and norms.

Germany is a multiracial and diverse country with several cultures being embraced by its people, and what lies under this, is the historic traditions and innovations. Through Germany's rich history, it has preserved various cultural norms that make modern Germany.

German music has a rich history of experimentation, tradition, and innovation, ranging from its folk to electric to pop, to name a few genres.

Innovation is a pillar of music because it introduces a work that has never been heard before.

And, tradition is defined as a set of norms that have been passed from generation to generation that are widely accepted, almost like, a set of rules, but not necessarily to such a strict level.

Tradition and Innovation both contribute to culture, but Innovation can take tradition and introduce something new to it. Culture, as a result, is then expanded in such a way that it incorporates something new that otherwise probably would never have been integrated any other way. In other words, Innovation can be a way of challenging a Tradition, but it can also introduce something new to it and possibly expand it to another aspect that can be passed down.

German music has been widely influenced by Innovation, thanks to its composers who had open minds and were willing to break ground and innovate. You can think of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc...

While creating "Glucklich", I took a sample of German music and studied it in detail, noting the traditions and nuances seen in historic pieces, then turned to more contemporary German music and researched extensively about the history and introductions regarding how these new genres came to be so popular in modern-day Germany.

What I have learned is that if you feel that introducing something new to a tradition is wonderful and if you understand the stones of the tradition's heart, then by all means, go for it.


|7| Relationships over Dreams

Sometimes when we get caught up in the midst of school and work, we often tend to forget some of the relationships we have in life. I mean, relationships of all sorts, with family, friends, and others. It's so easy to get lost in such a maze we call life where we are expected to perform our best everywhere. And let's be honest, everyone has their own problems in life from time to time, with family, friends, work, etc.

It's so easy to lose sight of relationships when we put our dreams and hopes over them. We easily assume we have so much life to live, but we have seen time and time again never to take life for granted.

If you wake up every day and ask yourself if you are happy with your relationships, and if the answer has not been yes for too many days, then something has to change.

When we value our dreams over our relationships, we blind ourselves from many relationships that we miss the beautiful chance to experience because our dreams pull us in another direction that is not always meant to be for life. 

That's why I really say, if you want to express something, express it now. If you really love someone, love now.

It feels that some dreams tend to go so far away when you wake up to reality, but it's the relationships you have in life that help you come closer to those dreams.

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