Mission Delhi – Yeashu Yuvraj, Sector 51
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He would hardly be at home, and now he always is. But his music is going on in spite of that. In fact, you have to watch the acapella video he recently conceptualized of an iconic Pink Floyd song, bringing together dozens of home-bound singers… but wait, we can’t fast-forward our track.
Recalling the texture of the pre-corona era, Yeashu Yuvraj, musician and photographer, confesses he is “an outdoorsy person, for whom home was only about dinner and sleep… my schedule was always hectic… I always had so many things to do.”
The illusion that his life was meant to happen outdoors stayed with him for the initial days of the lockdown. But as time passed, Mr Yuvraj started settling down into the ordinariness of these extraordinary days. “I began to sit more often with my father and mother, I would discuss music with my wife…. I would write music.”
Mr Yuvraj is chatting on WhatsApp this evening from his home in Gurgaon’s Sector 51 in the Greater Delhi Region. In this area of high-rises, he is one of the rare people living in a stand-alone house—the ground floor is for his parents, the first floor for him and his wife, and the second floor is his studio.
A vocalist trained in the western classical tradition, he honed his skills under the guidance of well-known soprano Situ Singh Buehler, founder of the Lyric Ensemble of Delhi. But Mr Yuvraj, 36, is more of a teacher than a performance artist, a choice that serves him well in the pandemic. He continues with his job as a music educator, teaching classes online these days. And despite being (happily) home-bound, he is not just doing the minimum required to get by. He continues to produce new work, including music videos. Since the pandemic fell on us, Mr Yuvraj has already made and released three music videos on his Instagram, working along with other musicians and singers to produce collective works of art. To do so, he would follow the modus operandi of our new normal: first, writing the parts for the music; then e-mailing the concerned fragments to select singers and musicians, who would send him back video clips recorded in their respective homes; and finally, pooling the bits together to create a smoothly flowing track.
In the most recent release shared on his Instagram, late last month, Mr Yuvraj produced his own version of Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond, starring a mind-boggling number of 35 singers spread in five cities. The video is an engrossing ensemble of voices, masterfully coordinated, true to the emotions of the original song. Because it was all created from so many different homes and places, the video tells us something about the art of connecting together in these unprecedented times of physical distancing. You may watch it on Youtube as well as on this Instagram handle—@withyeashu
Yet, there are other pursuits in Mr Yuvraj’s life that cannot be pursued while sitting at home. Such as photography. His occasional assignment to shoot in concerts held in clubs and malls are no longer possible for now, obviously. Gone also are the pleasures of occasional Sunday photo walks through picturesque spaces in Delhi like Transport Mandi, Yamuna Bazar and India Gate.
Even so, he remains mindful of his gains.
“Unlike many others, I am not suffering greatly due to the pandemic. I have used this period as a beautiful opportunity to rethink my way of living.” A pause later, he says, “Probably, when the pandemic is over, I will want to retain this pace of life.”
Meanwhile, he is working on a new music video, based on his “arrangement of the national anthem.”
[This is the 359th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Shine on you crazy times