It is often said that children of mixed ethnic and cultural heritage have the best of both worlds and are blessed with multiple talents. While this statement is somewhat a generalisation, there is an element of truth to it.
I know a good many young people of Indo-Russian origin living in Moscow. I find it striking how two different cultures effortlessly blend in their mentality shaping a unique combination.
While being completely adjusted to the life in Russia and being very much in touch with the agenda of the day here, these young people try to keep in touch with another aspect of their personalities.
Here are just a few inspiring examples of young people from Indo-Russian families who let their talents sparkle and follow their dreams despite all the obstacles.
Romadi, the daughter of an Indian businessman, graduated from the stage artist faculty of GITIS (The Russian University of Theatre Arts), and her ambition is to become an artist and singer. She started singing and acting from primary school and graduated from musical school, specializing in the piano. Romadi participated in many concerts in the school and won several prizes in the competitions organised by Moscow city.
Source: Romadi Rao
This is an unusual choice for a child with the Indian background, with most children from Indo-Russian families being encouraged by their parents to take on business, engineering or medicine; in other words more down-to-earth jobs than show-business.
Romadi’s parents were at first surprised with their daughter’s career preference, but when they realised how much it means to her, they were very supportive. “We parents never dreamt of this but it’s her interest to become an artist and singer,” says her father Dr Kagita Rao. “She formed a music group with her two schoolmates, one of them writes songs, the other composes music and Romadi sings.”
He adds proudly: “Some of their songs are broadcast on radio and TV, and they are currently working on an album.”
Romadi has already recorded several songs and doesn’t plan to stop. When asked how she realised that singing was her vocation, Romadi tries hard to recollect her first encounter with music. “I don’t remember exactly,” she says pensively. “Maybe when I sang in a choir at school, maybe even earlier. I always was a very artistic and curious girl. And I always loved to sing.”
Romadi doesn’t see her favourite occupation through the rose-coloured glasses though. “Of course it's hard and difficult for a young and vulnerable girl,” she admits.
“My Mom worried a lot about me, she thought it may be hard on my nerves,” she goes on. “Actually I also think about it sometimes. But I have always thought that I'm a strong person and I don't search for an easy way of living. Because life is meant for living it to the fullest: smiling, crying...pain....not just for plain existence,” Romadi says passionately.
She doesn’t have a specific set of exercises to train her voice but she believes in self-improvement and tries to develop her singing skills.
Now Romadi successfully combines her two passions: singing and acting. She recorded several video clips and did photo shoots where she put to use not only her strong and soulful voice but also her acting skills.
Sveta is a gifted dancer specialising in Kathak. Sveta has practiced classical Indian dance ever since she was a child. She participated in many dance contests as a member of a Russian dance collective called Chakkar and won prizes for the best Kathak performance in Russia.
Source: Svetlana Tulasi
Sveta began practising classical Indian dance at the primary school. Although Sveta’s mother Lubov Tulasi is a little worried about her daughter overloading herself with training in addition to studies and work, she has always been supportive of her interest in dancing and encouraged her to hone her talent. “It’s natural for my daughter to live like this. She can’t imagine her life without dancing.” While Lubov appreciates Sveta’s versatility as a dancer, she still prefers her classical dance performances. “I like classical dance more than Bollywood, only classics can reveal true professionalism while dances from films are for the not so sophisticated public,” she says.
Sveta thinks it was natural for her to develop an interest in classical Indian dance form. She says: “My mother is Russian but my father is Indian which is why, even though we live in Russia, my parents followed the Indian tradition of teaching their children classical dance. This is how I began learning Kathak as a child. As I grew older, I got interested in the history of the dance. The Indian classical dance helps me to learn more about India, but for me, it’s more about mastering a special skill that a few people possess rather than keeping in touch with my culture.”
Recently, Sveta took her skill abroad and participated in a popular Ukrainian show called “Украина мае талант” (“Ukraine has talent”). Sveta got in top-40 out of 800 competitors and reached the semi-finals of the contest.
Sveta’s success in the show was a pleasant surprise for her as well as for her family. They didn’t expect for her to get that far into the competition because of an alleged Ukrainian dislike for Muscovites, and also due to the non-traditional choice of genre. Her classical Indian dance performance was in stark contrast to the pop songs and modern dances of other contestants.
Sveta names Madhuri Dixit and Sanjukta Sinha as her favourite dancers and her all-time inspiration. She is pleased with her performance but emphasises that in dancing if one aims very high, then sheer talent is not enough. “For a good dancer just having talent and charisma would do,” Sveta says. “But if you want to be an exceptional dancer, you have to have a brilliant choreographer and immense perseverance.”
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