What is it with 12-year-old prodigies and music? At the beginning of this year, Neil Nayyar of California made news by becoming the youngest in the world to play an incredible 44 different musical instruments, and expertly at that. This when not most of us do not even know of the existence of so many. Then there is the very gifted (and quite famous) English teenager Alma Deutscher who has already written an opera of her own and is fondly called Little Mozart.
And just when you thought that you had seen it all comes along another whizkid from the bustling Asian metropolis of Bangalore. He is Yathaarth Murthy and is probably the world’s first anthem-ologist, in the making. In his own words, an anthem-ologist is one who studies anthems and in the process learns about that nation’s origins, history and culture.
As young Yathaarth sauntered in as the last speaker it was at the fag end of what had been an exciting day of vibrant ideas emanating from precocious young minds. After all, this was the Indian chapter of Ted Talks whose whole motto is ‘fostering the spread of great ideas’ But far from being daunted he got into his stride right away. With refreshing candour, he explained how life had got crazy (his words) over the last year or so and he had been getting more than his share of attention wherever he went.
You see this kid on the cusp of teenagehood has a thing (read talent) for anthems and he can sing over 200 anthems of different countries from the world over. Of which most are in a foreign language that he knows not a word of. Stumped? But naturally.
Yathaarth went on to hum a few lines of the song that started it all – the viral sensation ‘Why this Kolaveri Di’ Which made his folks sit up and notice his penchant for music thus engaging the services of a music teacher. Call it destiny or quirk of fate but this tutor thought it fit to teach young Yathaarth national anthems.
By the time the young boy was done learning four of them he was so fascinated that classical music got the short shrift and with a generous helping hand from his mother he started sourcing various anthems from the internet(YouTube & Wikipedia chiefly) The rest, as the cliche goes, is history. But wait. Yathaarth is a prodigy with a heart, disruptive for a cause. The anthems have brought the world and it’s problems to his attention. That he wants to do something about.
Today Yathaarth is a part of the Model UN initiative and is lending his voice to several noteworthy causes like poverty, illiteracy and global warming. While leading dignitaries and organisations around the globe are lauding this young ambassador of peace and harmony he is still to receive his dues back in his own country. Yathaarth ended his unique talk in great style by mentioning this ‘imaginary’ country that he likes to call the People’s Republic of Petersburg or PROP in short.
He even listed a few salient features (all of it with a touch of humour) of this utopian nation’s constitution and then went on to give an impromptu rendition of an anthem that he wrote and composed, all by himself. The lines go like
Land of my home
We’ll sing out to glory
And we’ll see what the future holds
We’ll take one shot from every angle
To see what the future holds
The people in the audience all stood up in attention, mesmerised. Clearly, a star is born.