He comes from a family that is deeply connected to music — his mother Latha Raju, father JM Raju are playback singers and his late grandmother is Shantha P Nair, but Aalaap Raju picked up the guitar and tested his vocal chords only in college. His name is incidentally inspired by Amitabh Bachchan’s movie, Alaap, which released just before he was born.
With a bachelor’s in statistics from Loyola College, Chennai, (1997-2000) and MCA from Sri Venkateshwara College of Engineering (SVCE), Chennai (2000-03), Aalaap ventured into the corporate world while preparing to enter the music world as bass guitarist and vocalist. He had a lucky launch, believes Aalaap. While his first solo (Kuthu Kuthu) was with music director Taman for Aiyanar in 2009, his hit songs are Ennamo Yeadho from Ko (it won 15 awards), Nenjodu Cherthu from Yuuvh and the recent Vaaya Moodi Summa Iruda from Mugamoodi and Narumugaye from Kondattam. This 33-year-old loves working for newcomers and has also played bass for GV Prakash in the movie Polladhavan. He also runs a recording studio, Voice and Vision, which was started by his father.
But it’s not just music he found, he also found love. Meeting his wife Dimple, was one of the highlights of his time at SVCE. He also met Rahul Nambiar during culturals, which led to the formation of their multi-genre band, Rahlaap. He and Rahul love to promote independent music and also perform individually. He is also part of a four-member instrumentalist band, Yuj, that participates in many music festivals. You can also listen to their singles on YouTube.
What did college teach you?
I discovered music in my life during my UG at Loyola. It was the most precious three years of my life. I had such great support from friends to pursue my newfound talent. I took this up a notch in SVCE by participating seriously in cultural fests. Attendance in PG was not a problem because of the prizes we were winning. That’s also where I met my wife, Dimple. Rahul Nambiar and I also met during culturals, which led to us forming the band, Rahlaap.
What was your proudest moment in college?
The day my team won IIT Saarang’s best team prize in 2003. I also won the best instrumentalist award in 2002.
Have you had any embarrassing moments in college?
I had internal arrears in my UG and I didn’t get an admission for MCA in Loyola. They weren’t kind enough considering my marks. I spent many days in front of the principal’s room. That was embarrassing.
How did you score points with the opposite gender?
I didn’t take any extra effort. Culturals were the only place for us to receive some signals from girls but I never acted upon them. (laughs)
Was bunking a part of your college routine?
I bunked only for rehearsals. It used to thrill me so much. Otherwise, there was the occasional movie. I was a day scholar and they were very strict with attendance. But college life was filled with music - many musicians and bands in my batch. The time was right. It wasn’t boring, thanks to the batch and friends. I was in the right place at the right time.
Did you have any rifts with your professors? Why?
No, it looks like I had a very boring life. I wasn’t rebellious. It isn’t my first nature.
Where did you hang out in college with friends?
The mutton kheema porotta was brilliant in our canteen. We would save pocket money to buy that and cricket was another passion. I wanted to become a cricketer. Even now, a group of us musicians and singers get together to play every week.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in?
My activities were mostly extracurricular. I also enjoyed table tennis and surfing the web.