How can people be so callous?’

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Tochi Rainaa, Musician

What is your earliest memory?
I have been very spiritual from childhood. I’ve always been a loner, even as a child. I remember meditating for 16 to 18 hours at a stretch. This was after I started my classical training.

How has your family influenced you?
My grandfather was a sadhu and I suppose that’s part of the reason why I’m so spiritually inclined. I have three brothers and three sisters and things haven’t been very easy for us. I was always extremely attached to my mother. Three years ago, when I got my first song in Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday, it was bitter-sweet for me. My mother had died of cancer only three days before. It broke my heart that she wasn’t there when years of hard work were finally beginning to pay off.

What is your greatest fear?
Negativity. People are always criticising things they’re afraid of, generating a lot of negative energy. How long will we run from our fears? I would like to do what I’m good at without being afraid of falling or failing. However, it hurts that I’m still struggling.

How do you react to a website crediting another singer for your work?
I’m amazed that people feel no shame in taking credit for someone else’s art. The website feels no remorse about misrepresenting things and costing people things that are dear to them. My lifetime’s hard work has been publicly compromised because of them. People called me a liar and laughed at me when I told them over the phone that I sang ‘Pardesi’ from Dev. D. I don’t understand how people can be so callous. I’ve been training for 22 years and moved to Mumbai six years ago. I’ve even lived on one meal a day for weeks and months at a go. I’m not complaining about my struggle, but I do wish people would understand their responsibility in the public arena.

What do you dislike about other people?
People are not compassionate towards each other anymore. We’ve lost all respect for our fellow humans. I don’t like people who’re negative, who criticise incessantly. People are refusing to understand each other. The direction in which the world is headed is very dangerous.

What are your inspirations?
My guruji Vinod Kumarji. He is my biggest inspiration. I am here today because of him. I haven’t met anyone else who understands me as well as he did.

ISHA MANCHANDA

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