Finding his voice

Shuvi Jha and Swara Tewari

When junior Madhav Danturthi entered MVHS as a freshman, he wasn’t expecting to find a group of people as passionate about Indian cultural arts as he was. He wasn’t expecting to find his niche at MVHS as a classical Indian singer. He wasn’t expecting to find a club that allowed him to use his vocal talent to express his patriotism for India. Then, he discovered the Indo-American Student Association (IASA).

“Everybody [in IASA] is very dedicated to the Indian culture,” Danturthi said. “Each individual person is someone who is connected with the culture of India, where it goes along with their daily lives. That’s another thing I see a lot at MVHS itself. Not only about Indian culture but people are very attached to their cultures, and I feel that it’s something we’re able to share in our community, because of the country we live in.”

Danturthi explains that the reason he was able to stay connected with his culture even though he grew up in America was because of his grandparents. He vividly recalls them visiting him for long periods of time before they passed away. He believes that the respect they instilled within him for Indian culture is something that he will never forget.

“[My grandparents] coming in when I was still a little kid and teaching me the culture of India, the different types of food, all the different art forms, that’s been engraved into me,” Daturthi said. “Even if I try to forget it, it won’t happen. It’s like when you learn to ride a bike, you can’t forget how no matter how long its been.”

Another aspect that Danturthi admires about IASA is that all of their proceeds from Spotlite, the annual show hosted during Spring, go to a charity in India that donates school supplies to impoverished children in India. Danturthi explains that IASA places more importance on the charitable aspects of their shows, rather than the show itself.

“Whenever we sell tickets and things, we don’t say ‘We need this money to help our club get better,’” Danturthi said. “We’re not really focused on how well the show goes, that’s a priority, but it’s not the top priority. The top priority is making connections with the people around us and helping people in need. It’s like a family comes together, performs and has a good time. It’s all about spreading our culture to the rest of the world and having a positive impact.”

Danturthi explains that the reason his culture has always been such a dominant aspect of his life is because he feels indebted to his mother country for providing him with his life, family and opportunities. He views cultural expression as an ode to the country that has given and taught him so much.

“Life is not all about earning money but rather about giving back to the people that have changed you as a person,” Danturthi said. “I felt that my parents, my cousins, my friends and everyone I know, they’ve really shaped me into the person I am. My parents are from India, so that’s my mother country. I always feel that it’s good to be connected to your country that’s given you the people in your life that you have.”