Street banjo player Arogyanadhan knows no boundaries. He travels across the city and plays the four-stringed instrument. Liffy Thomas tags along

Regulars at Elliots Beach could not have missed him. At sunset, every Sunday, D.I. Arogyanadhan sits on beach sands and plays the banjo. He is out there strumming the banjo till the crowd thins down. From his tenth year, banjo has brought him his bread and butter. Arogyanadhan mastered the four-stringed instrument from his father Nadhan, who was a banjo musician.

“I never took down notes, just learnt it by listening,” says Arogyanadhan, strumming the nearly 40-year-old banjo that he inherited from his father. Whenever the well-worn instrument requires any repairs, he takes it to the Madras Musical Craft at Chintadripet. The music shop repairs the instrument for free. It’s simple: they see sincerity and want to reward it. Arogyanadhan is 50-years old, stammers, and is hard of hearing on one ear, but is keen to promote music with his banjo. With this instrument, he is at ease navigating the notes of Hindustani, qawwali, Hindi and Tamil songs.

He plays the banjo regularly at the Madras Musical Craft in the hope that some visitor will notice him and give him a break. That is how he drew the attention of composer Vedanth Bharadwaj, who has sponsored Aragyanadhan a box-type amplifier.

“This has helped in drawing more people when I play the banjo,” says Arogyanadhan, who bicycles from his modest house in Pudupet to the neighbourhoods where he has be invited for a performance. It was Sufi Dar, a place of worship for Sindhis, that Arogyanadhan first started playing. Occasional offers from kucheri come by. But the road is still bumpy for this street musician. “Electronic instruments are slowly replacing the banjo and other traditional instruments. I would love to play for an orchestra or any big event,” he adds.

Arogyanadhan can be reached at Madras Musical Craft at 044-28454263.

More In: Chennai | Downtown