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Vikram rocks Vizag

Vikram Hazra has got all the qualities to make people dance and sing and at the same time guide a large audience into the realms of meditation, says Sumit Bhattacharjee

Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

Mesmerising effect Vikram Hazra at the concert

The occasion was Guru Purnima and the evening was set to be laced with bhajans and satsang. But as the young man in bright-blue kurta and pyjamas strode across the stage with an electric guitar in hand, whispers started to circulate. The Convocation Hall that was bursting at its seam, suddenly came alive as he let out a full-throated ‘Vakratunda Mahakaya…’ to begin a concert, christened as ‘Sumeru Sandhya’ and organised by the Art of Living (AOL) chapter of Visakhapatnam.

The artist was none other than the international programme director of AOL and internationally famed musician Vikram Hazra. A physicist from IIT Mumbai, Vikram is now exploring the world of metaphysics with his music. He rocked the crowd with his self-composed bhajans that had the touch of rock, blues and fusion.

“Music is a great leveller and bhajans has its roots in almost all cultures. That is why Mahatma Gandhi could knit together people from all walks of life towards a collective consciousness with his ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram…’ Bhajans can reach the common man and is beyond all religious dogma,” says Vikram.

A self-made musician, he took up music after joining the AOL foundation. Though he has all the qualifications and traits to pass of as a successful executive in the business world, he chose to join the movement of peace and love and work in the rural areas to uplift the quality of life of the downtrodden.

Having had a typical westernised upbringing in the IIT campus where his father was a professor, he suddenly joined the AOL to change the course of his life.

“I believed in faded jeans, T-shirts and rock music. To me, life was all about ‘being cool’ and it revolved round rock and blues until I came across a group of co-students who had a very settled outlook and were clear in their thoughts. I was baptised into the realm of AOL by these students who later not only became my best friends but are among the most advanced teachers in the AOL foundation today,” says he.

Within a week after joining AOL, he had the opportunity to meet its founder Sri Ravishankar. “It was not a typical Guru - Shishya meeting. It was like meeting a good old friend after ages, and it was he who instructed me to go to the villages and work,” recollects the musician.

In his prime, Vikram packed his baggage and with his guitar he moved to the northeast part of India. For almost six years at a stretch, he worked in various villages in the remote corners of northeast and was instrumental in setting up over 40 primary schools.

Satsang and bhajans were part of his daily chores and it was during this time that he started to experiment with his music. The notes from rock and blues were already embedded in his system and he just got them together to compose his genre of bhajans. And today, to his credit, he was got over 10 albums and gives at least three concerts a month. Globetrotting, he has performed in over 35 countries.

“Music is universal and with just one riff, it can unify a 1,000 people from varied cultures and backgrounds,” says Vikram.

He has got a small troupe of five men, but in most places he can hold an audience spellbound with only a tabla as an accompaniment.

At 38, he is a man on the move. He jet-sets across the globe and counts Rhea Pillai amongst his friends. He enjoys the avant-garde music of Bill Frisell and Ottmar Liebert and as well as likes Dhrupad.

On being called a spiritual guru at 38, he shrugs it off by saying, “A professional hazard”.

As a musician, he has got the potential to make people sing and dance to his tune and at the same time as a teacher, he can guide a large audience, step-by-step, to the timeless realms of meditation.

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