Seat Revathi Maheshwaran behind her drums and watch her transform from a shy girl to a cool drummer

She looks fragile and shy. But, give her the drum sticks and Revathi Maheswaran is transformed. “I am gripped by energy when I see the drums,” says the college band drummer. On a breezy evening, she sits on the drum stool of the music club at Kumaraguru College of Technology, and give her sticks an experimental twirl. It is one of those days, when the busy second-year bio-technology student has found time to practise.

She closes her eyes and drops her head as she strikes the first note. Then, she kicks the pedals of the bass drums and thrashes the hi-hats (a type of cymbal) and the snare drum (the drum at the centre). Her hands move faster and the pace builds up. It is difficult not to sway to the groovy beat. Revathi concludes the piece with a flourish of cymbals.

Revathi was eight years old when she watched fascinated as her senior played drums in the morning assembly at St. Joseph’s Convent, Salem. “I approached the music master and asked him if I could learn drums . He agreed,” she says. It did not take her long to master the instrument. Since she was learning classical dance, she already had a sense of rhythm. She was also sent for inter-school competitions at the State level. She bagged first and second prizes, in two consecutive years.

At college, she was the centre of everyone’s attention. The seniors were amused seeing this “wisp of a girl” contesting for the drummer’s position at the music club. “Since I was a girl they had assumed I had come to sing,” Revathi recalls. But, the crowd fell silent when she started to play. When she was done, she could only hear wolf whistles and claps. “Since then, everyone in college call me “Don”. Each time I walked into the class, the boys would pretend to drum. And, I would burst into laughter!”

The most thrilling moment in her life was when the band performed at NIT Trichy. “We met with a fantastic response. The crowd cheered me after I finished my bit,” she says. Another memorable event for Revathi was when she and her college friends performed at The Fun Republic mall. That day, her relatives saw her perform before hundreds of people. “They were amazed. They never knew this part of me. They congratulated me. It was a real boost to my confidence.”

College has moulded her both as a performer and a person, says Revathi. “Hailing from Salem, I belong to a conservative family, where I am the first person to come out of the district to pursue higher studies. I was an introvert. I could never face the crowd when I performed. I was afraid they would mock me. After I came to college, my friends in the music club encouraged me to be bold while performing.” She would like to pursue higher studies, says Revathi. “But, I will never let go of my drums. They have made me what I am today.” And, she concludes, “I would like to be known just as a drummer, without the prefix of a “lady” to it.”