Dhaani Singhal, Co-creator, SIFF Young Artiste

Dhaani is a Grade 11 student at The International School Bangalore and has been a student of music all her childhood.  She is the co-creator of SIFF Young Artiste – a National-level competition and academy for classical and contemporary music and dance.


Music has always been close to my heart and been an integral part of my journey, as a means of expression and as an avenue for personal growth. I remember being exposed to music while growing up with my parents in Bangalore, as there was always music in the house. My mother is a vocalist herself and is trained in Hindustani Classical Gayaki, and so I naturally took after her in learning the Sa Re Ga Ma and getting introduced to the world of music. I would find myself performing at different events and social gatherings – festive celebrations, school annual days, and some small family functions. All of these small performances were indeed making a big impact on me and my affinity for singing and music.

As I grew up, I developed my own tastes and musical sensibilities and found myself gravitating towards Western Popmusic. I found my ground very quickly in this style of singing and realised that this genre was the one for me. Since then, I have learnt a lot; completing Trinity exams, performing in a few competitions, singing with acapella groups on stage, and much more. I has loved every bit of it, and I continue to learn and grow today – the learning never stops really.

However, something I kept pondering on as a learner was, what should I do next? Where should I go next? What is the next step? How can I take my art to the next level? Unlike a typical pursuit of learning a subject, I found that music was an undefined path. It is easy to get lost along the way and lose momentum if one is not able to find the right opportunities and inspiration. This is where the idea of Young Artiste came into being.

Young Artiste was created to fill this lack of structure in a student’s pursuit of an Art. The purpose was to create a national standard for the Arts in various styles and genres. We wanted to create a platform where students from any of the classical and contemporary art forms can have the opportunity to express their talent and be recognised and rewarded for it.

Role in Bringing SIFF Young Artiste to life

The initial stage of creation and conceptualisation involved a lot of brainstorming towards what shape the platform was going to take. It is one thing to have an idea and a vision, but it was a different thing altogether to convert the idea into reality – from choosing the name itself to defining the different rounds and scoring mechanisms of the competition. Finally, with a small team of highly dedicated people who all shared an incredible passion for the arts, we were able to spell out the details of Young Artiste 2020. There was a lot of intentionality in establishing the fundamental principles of the Young Artiste competition. For example, while selecting the 20 different art forms that were a part of our roster of categories, we were addressing two aspects: including a plethora of different art forms from different parts of India, yet also creating a separate space for each artist to compete and express themselves, within the confines of their unique discipline. The idea was not just to find the next superstar but to grow and nurture a cohort of highly talented Young Artistes.

Giving Young Artiste a national and well-reputed stature right from the formation of the brand was another important objective. This process of creating a nationally recognised brand started by reaching out to acclaimed veterans in the fields of music & dance. Garnering their endorsement by communicating our vision to them was a very exciting process. As a young person myself, I was quite nervous conducting these conversations with stalwart artists and maestros, but their positive response to the ideas of Young Artiste gave us the much-needed confidence boost in our mission! Even though our brand ambassadors are veteran artists today, ultimately, they too have started off as Young Artistes, with the same dreams and aspirations that thousands of children across India hold dear to themselves today!

Starting with a simple idea and bringing it to reality was a rewarding experience, and I have learnt so much along the way. One of the several challenges in this journey presented itself just after a few months of our launch – when the world moved into lockdown due to the Covid Pandemic. Finding methods to keep the momentum going and to execute the remaining rounds of the competition online helped us to find new & innovative ways to keep Art alive. The responses we received from different parts of our nation during this time were also heart-warming: especially during a season as challenging as Covid. Watching young talent emerge and grow into masterful artistes was an extremely rewarding experience.

One thing I take away from this journey is an understanding of how much art can transform young hearts and minds – in different ways for different people! I plan to keep working in this space of arts and to continue motivating the future generations of Artistes.

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