Internet guitar star Ripu Bhatia on life after limb loss

A still from Being Me: Ripu documentary
A still from Being Me: Ripu documentary

Musician Ripu Bhatia discusses life after contracting meningococcal septicaemia last year which resulted in him losing four limbs in a new video documentary.

The 22-year-old New Zealander made headlines earlier this summer after he shared a number of videos of himself playing guitar and piano.

In documentary Being Me: Ripu, he describes the harrowing moment he discovered he’d contracted severe blood poisoning – and how he has been rebuilding his life following amputation.

He says: “Growing up, I was always quite shy and reserved. I used to be really into music, play a lot of guitar, and I used to write songs and lyrics – which led me to study journalism.”

When he was 20, Ripu moved to Sydney, Australia, to study a Master’s degree – but his life was turned on its head a year later when he visited doctors after feeling “excruciatingly cold, very intense pain” in his feet.

He says: “I was lying on this bed in hospital. There was a point where everyone ran behind a screen as if they needed to distance themselves from me. They came back wearing these masks, like hazard suits, helmets. The doctor said to me, ‘You’ve got to call someone. I want you to call someone.’”

His father Satvinder, a doctor, took the call and later visited the hospital with Ripu’s mother as doctors fought to keep Ripu alive over the coming weeks. He says he’s looked after people who have contracted the disease before but admits, “ I’ve never seen anyone as sick as my son that survived.”

Though Ripu was given a slim chance of survival, he made it through – but was then told he’d have to have his limbs amputated.

Ripu says: “I think I might have cried, I only remember bits and pieces, but there was no moment where I just lost it. You cant have a freak-out or scream, it just doesn’t happen. I just gradually accepted it. I just wanted them off, I want the process to move along.”

Ripu admits it’s “devastating,” as he feels he’ll never reach his full potential – and he spends a lot of time thinking about where he would be now if he never fell ill. But reports playing guitar and piano helps take his mind off his condition.

He says: “Music is a hobby and a passion for me. I gravitated towards blues music – it’s really about feeling, rather than technical ability. It’s a great thing for me to do, to release a lot of what I have inside me. It’s a really good escape.”

He continues: “You do feel like you’ve lost an opportunity. My mental state, I was feeling positive, on the rise. It’s devastating that you’ve got to go back home and you can’t prove to people what you could have done. I really thought I could have done something big. Now it’s like, you’ll never know. No matter what I do, it will never be as good as what it could have been.

“It’s quite cynical, but no matter what I have, I will never have one up on anyone. I can never be the best, something that I’m just completely content with. I struggle with that insecurity. But at the end of the day, I’m just doing what I can.”

Watch the full documentary below.

Guitarist learns to play again after losing all 4 limbs

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.