BENGALURU: Every Friday, Renil Raphy P steps down for chai at the small shop just below his office in JP Nagar. He’s usually accompanied by his colleagues. Midway through this little break, invariably, someone comes up with a song request for Raphy to perform, which he always obliges. Already a hit with his colleagues, Raphy’s talent has also caught the ears of other people passing by, who often approach him with a word or two of praise for his singing. “My colleagues make me sing for them all the time,” says the Hindustani vocalist with a laugh, adding that he can sing in Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and Bengali, despite not knowing the language very well.
The Kerala-born trained for three years in Carnatic music but always had an affinity for Hindustani vocals. “But it was difficult to find someone to teach me in Thrissur,” says the 27-year-old, who shifted to Bengaluru five years ago for work, and has been working with the tech team of Milaap for two years now. After moving here, Raphy was eventually able to start learning the art form and is currently pursuing his senior level in it at Goonjan Kala Kendra. “Indian classical music lets you get creative with it. Your teacher usually teaches you the basics of a raaga but after that, you can improvise and build on it,” he says.
A year ago, Raphy also started teaching students the junior level of Hindustani vocals. He began with teaching one child but word soon spread and now, the singer trains 13 students, belonging to different classes from Class 1 to 6. This activity, he says, helps him in turn as well, giving him ore time to practice and learn more about his music. “Teaching children has also helped me improve my patience levels. With young kids, especially those belonging to Class 1 and 2, you have to keep your lesson interesting,” he explains.
Music definitely seems to run in his family’s blood, with his brother also learning how to play the tabla. “My family is excited that I finally got the chance to learn Hindustani music. Now, my brother and I perform together for them,” he says, adding that he practises at least for an hour every day post work as well. “It refreshes me and makes me happier. There’s no better way to unwind.”
After multiple requests from his colleagues, Raphy eventually created a YouTube channel to promote his singing. His cover of the Malayalam song Neeyoru Puzhayai has around 8,400 views. Not one to toot his own horn, the software engineer stays carefully mum about the reaction his music has got, which includes an unofficial fan club among family members of his colleagues. One of his co-workers, Arti Rajan, tells CE: “At least 25-30 people are part of this club. So every time Raphy performs, we record it and send it out to them. His Friday evening singing sessions are something we all look forward to,” she says.