Today, everyone knows me as Ravi Basrur. As a child growing up, I was just Kiran, one of four kids born into a poor family of sculptors in a village filled with music. There were bhajans, yakshagana, shastriya sangeet, everything. That was the soundtrack to our childhood.
My education was always rocky. I failed Class 8, skipped Class 9, and wrote Class 10 exams anyway. I never bothered checking if I passed or not.
At 14, I moved to Bangalore to learn sculpting and also to get connected to the Kannada film industry. I’d sculpt in the morning and do rounds with my keyboard in the evening. But I never got a chance. Someone told me it was the age of computers and I had no idea what that was. With my meagre savings, I got myself one. I taught myself to make jingles on the computer, but that was still not enough for me. I went to Bombay.
For a year, I sculpted idols of Jesus in the morning and visited pubs by night. I wanted to meet and play to some Bollywood biggie but I was shunned and mocked because of my small town looks and language. I did not have the ‘swag’. Every day for over an year I did this before I got a contact who would let me play. I quit my job, carried all my instruments, and got there on the Monday as discussed, only to learn that there had been a police raid the previous evening and the pub had been shut. I was shattered. There was no job, no stage, no accommodation, and I couldn’t even go back to my previous employer. I managed to reach the railway station in Thane and learnt that there had been a bomb blast that day. The police pulled me up because I looked so scruffy. They broke my guitar and tabla to check if there was a bomb but left my keyboard. Finally, I climbed into a train, sat in the toilet, and cried from Bombay to Mangalore. For sixteen hours, I was there.
My brothers were very supportive but there was family pressure and loans to be cleared. I didn’t want to give up just yet but I did not have instruments. I finally called a hospital in Mangalore and asked if they needed a kidney. Just as they were prepping me in the OT, I got scared. What if they took both my kidneys? What if I died on the table? I told them I needed to go to the toilet and fled. From there, I did odd jobs and stayed in a public toilet for one month, paying the guard Rs. 3 a day.
Finally, I went back to Bangalore. Everyday, I went to different temples for my meals. I took up a sculpting job. I was struggling to buy even a meal. One of my friends noticed how haggard I looked, so he took me to meet a goldsmith who was also a face reader. The face reader told my friend that he’d need to get an appointment to meet me in the future. I could only laugh. In that situation, all I wanted was Rs. 10 for food, and here he spoke of appointments and fame. The man asked what I wanted. I told I needed Rs. 35,000 to buy a keyboard. He handed it over to me right there. I had met him for the first time that day. That was when I christened myself Ravi, after the man who trusted and saw something in me. After some years, my last name became my village, Basrur, which seeded music in me. I became Ravi Basrur.
After that, I did anything that came my way and finally landed an Rs. 15,000-job with a radio station where I heard the word ‘salary’ for the first time. My first movie break came with Arjun Janya Sir and I worked on 64 movies. My 65th movie was Ugramm, my first as a music director. K.G.F my recent release is the first Kannada movie with a multilingual release.
– Ravi Basrur