Friday Review

The call of tabla

Tabla player Rimpa Siva.

Tabla player Rimpa Siva.  

more-in

Tabla artiste Rimpa Siva on her passion and why she has no role models.

HYDERABAD: At three, when most of her friends were busy playing with dolls, Rimpa Siva was mesmerised with the sounds of tabla that resonated at home. She would sit next to her father pandit Swapan Siva, a respected tabla artiste and guru in Kolkata as he taught his disciples. “Initially, my father thought I would either choose vocals or some other instrument but never imagined I would take to the tabla,” she reminisces. However, her teacher-father saw the lingering passion in the child and began with the basics of tabla. “He realised my ‘shaukh’ for tabla was not casual and felt if he tutored me, I would take it forward.”

With her father’s guidance, Rimpa Siva was hailed as a child prodigy and she gave a stage performance in Kolkata when she was just eight! She soon started giving performances in music festivals and concerts; a high point was her performance in USA when she was in Standard VI. It was followed by performances in Holland and UK.

As a teenager, did she miss out on going out with friends? “I never felt anything like that. Tabla mera sab kuch hai (It is everything in my life,” she states. Her passion and accomplishments earned laurels and a French documentary titled ‘ Rimpa Siva Princess of Tabla’ was made in ’98. “The crew came to Kolkata and shot the documentary in 26 days. They showed my school, the environment, the time I spent for practice and training sessions with my father. The documentary showed how I spend my day,” she recalls with a smile.

Speaking about her riyaaz, Rimpa states, “There is no set time. Sometimes, I practice for three hours. When I play tabla, I am lost in it and do not know how much time I have spent. I guess it is the same in any creative field. When you are passionate, it becomes a part of your being,” she points out.

The 30–year–old says the audience is very appreciative of her tabla concerts. “Woman playing tabla is no big deal for the urban crowd,” she says and adds, “Tabla is not easy to learn. “There is no gender issue but playing tabla requires dexterity and concentration. In singing too, one has to sit for long hours and practice; so that is not an issue. Only thing is we play with the fingers and women’s fingers are delicate,” she explains.

Rimpa belongs to the Farukhabad gharana and delights in playing kaida, peshkar and gat. Her inspiration is her father but she has no role models. “One should strive to be unique and not try to be someone else. If you try to be someone else, that will be a copy,” she smiles.

All-woman band

Formed a year ago, Nari Shakti, an all-woman band is another significant feature of her artistic career. “I play the fusion tabla and there are women musicians playing instruments like Pakhawaj and sitar. I wanted to encourage women musicians to come forward. The response has been good. For this year’s Woman’s Day, we did a show for television in Kolkata on March 17,” she states. Among the tabla artistes across the country, Rimpa makes a mark as a woman tabla artiste. What is unique is the fact that she has carved a place for herself among the male tabla players across the country.

Rimpa adds how music has taught her the truth of life. “I have interacted and observed many people. I have realised that our hearts have to be pure with no malice. If you cause pain to others, that pain will come back to you. One should also never lie and hurt others.”



(Rimpa Siva was in Hyderabad recently for a performance at State Art Gallery as part of the National Exhibition of Contemporary Art 2016.)

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 18, 2019 10:50:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/tabla-artiste-rimpa-siva-on-her-passion-and-why-she-has-no-role-models/article8418043.ece

Next Story