When the drums take control

Virtuoso

When the drums take control

Be at it: Sivamani

Looks like he has magic in his fingers. He can drum on just about anything he lays his hands on. Sivamani has taken drumming to a different level altogether. He has proven that it is no ordinary instrument and today, thanks to him, it has assumed an identity, all of its own world over. Talking about his passion for drumming Sivamani says, “It is God's gift to me and I will make use of it till my last breath.” 

Ask him how he creates music on just about anything. Sivamani says it's all about striking the right rhythm. “Once you have got the rhythm, everything falls in place. It's all about observation and application. Hence, I can produce rhythm out of anything.”

He adds, “I entered the music industry on December 6, 1975 as a drummer for an orchestra. Later, I got opportunities to work in studios, stage performances and also in films. I must have worked in more than 1,000 films,” he beams and expresses the wish to do Hollywood movies. He has played the drum for many a Bollywood films including Roja, Rang De Basanti, Taal, Lagaan, Dil Se, Guru, and Kabul Express.

The ace percussionist began drumming when he was barely seven years old. He regards his father S M Anandan and Noel Grant, Billy Cobham, Trilok Gurtu and Louis Prakasam as his gurus. By the age of 13, he was well into forming a career in music, with recordings under the watchful eyes of Carnatic and light music legend S P Balasubramaniam. He regards him as his godfather. “He was instrumental in bringing me to this field. He is a great master, yet humble. We should learn from him how to respect others,” he reasons.

The much-sought after drummer Sivamani has performed all over the globe for over three decades and gained international recognition. He has performed across the world with A R Rahman and collaborated with him for Bombay Dreams.

It was a dream come true in 1991 when the tabla maestro Zakir Hussain invited Sivamani to share the stage with him and Trilok Gurtu at a fusion concert in Rang Bhavan at Mumbai. “I have played for so many films, but stage performance excites me the most. Performing live is a totally different experience. The atmosphere and the crowd energise me. Once Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi witnessed my show and exclaimed 'he is not Sivamani, he is Jeevamani, who infuses life into everything'. I was touched by his words and felt honoured,” he recollects.

Sivamani finds pleasure in mountaineering and shopping at malls. Of course, swimming and playing football, cricket and chess are his hobbies. It’s not just music, Sivamani is adept in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, broken Kannada, Malayalam and Malay.

His future plans include: Starting a music school for aspiring musicians, “It's a long time wish to start a school and I am looking for a place to fulfil my dream,” he signs off.

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