Yoshika Sangal | March 22, 2016
Anuradha Pal is a tabla player, multi-percussionist and music composer. She started playing tabla at the age of ten. She has been a disciple of legends like late Ustad Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Who’s Who Journal of the World and the Limca Book of Records (1991) have listed her as the first professional female tabla player. She is also the youngest and only female Indian musician to have performed at the prestigious Woodstock Festival in 2008 and at the WOMAD Festival in 1999. Apart from live performances, she composes music for short films, documentaries and theatre. The background score she composed for MF Husain’s film Gaja Gamini was highly appreciated.
Being from a family of academicians, what or who influenced you to become a tabla player: Apart from studies, music, art and culture were an important part of my upbringing. A lot of artists often visited our house. My parents took me to concerts at a very young age. This exposure drew me towards learning classical music.
How did interest in vocal classical music turn into an interest in tabla: Singing classical music made me realise that I was more inclined towards rhythm. The rhythmic aspect of a song naturally came to me without anyone telling me. Hence, tabla became an adjunct to my singing.
Any challenges: Initially my teacher refused to teach me as I was a girl and tabla was considered a physically demanding instrument. But that did not stop me. My brother was already a tabla player, so I decided to learn it on my own. After a couple of months, my teacher was surprised to see me play and eventually decided to teach me.
How it feels being in a male-dominated field: When one breaks new ground and establishes a new tradition to existing norms, society does not accept it. People have their hardwired thinking. I have faced discrimination and cynicism. I had to work really hard. I didn’t have any godfather. This industry is hierarchical and I was a new person.
Your inspiration: My audience was a great support. When they come to praise me, I feel all my hard work gets paid off. Girls often tell me that they get inspired by me to pursue their dreams in various fields. This change that I bring in the lives of other people is a big inspiration for me.
Your gurus: To listen to tabla maestros and learn from them was an honour yet it was very difficult. But I thrived on challenge. They have supported me unconditionally. I learnt under the strict ‘guru shishya parampara’ and I feel that this is a brilliant system. You learn not only music but about life and discipline. You learn to deal with many things.
How can women be encouraged to join this field: I feel inspiration doesn’t come just by talking about it. You have to do something. I formed my Stree Shakti band in 1996 so that I could provide a platform to provide equal opportunity to women who are not able to showcase their talent.
Any other passion besides tabla: Wildlife and reading
How do you stay fit: By performing yoga
Favourite production: My original composition of tabla jugalbandhi. It is a combination and synthesis of traditional and contemporary.
Anything you want to change in the world: Violence. People have to find the calm in themselves. I feel music is a binding force. It reduces stress and connects people. I feel that exposure to music should be made compulsory in schools and colleges.
As told to Yoshika Sangal
The National Students Union of India (NSUI) on Thursday sought action against those who had assaulted students and teachers of Delhi university at a protest march on Wednesday.` “Our sole motive is to compel the police to take some strict actions against the lawbreakers who brutally manhand
It’s a hung verdict in the elections to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, which is India’s richest civic body. Shiv Sena bagged 84 seats closely followed by BJP that won 81 seats. Congress with only 31 seats performed badly as compared to 52 seats that it
A beautiful poem on modern Indian Muslims has caught the imagination of the social media users. “Hindustani Musalmaan” by Hussain Haidry has gone viral on the net. Not just for being crisp, but also for conveying what it means to be a Muslim in this country. There
The Indian economy has recorded strong growth in recent years, helped by a large terms of trade gain, positive policy actions including implementation of key structural reforms, a return to normal monsoon rainfall, and reduced external vulnerabilities, said the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The “Forum of Concerned Citizens for Naliya Incident” sent a fact-finding team to Kutch on February 20. The members of the team were Dineshbhai Sanghvi, Meenakshi Joshi, Balendra Vaghela, Dr Jharna Pathak and advocate Shabana Mansuri. Based on their report, the Forum ha
University of Hyderabad, Jawaharlal Nehru University and now University of Delhi…the free space for discourse is steadily being squeezed out of universities in India as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) imposes its will and forcibly blocks out alt