Ahmedabad: The stage is still being set up as I walk towards it. Dhaivat Jani, known for his work as the drummer of Meghdhanush, is conducting his sound check for the “Sounds of stories” performance on Sunday evening at the Banyan Theatre, a makeshift open-air stage at the Sanskar Kendra in Ahmedabad, as part of the month-long Abhivyakti City Arts Project. After a casual exchange of hellos, Jani takes a break from his drill and we sit under a tree to talk about his performance, his thoughts on Ahmedabad’s music scene and a lot more.

Tell us about your performance at Abhivyakti.

At Abhivyakti, I am teaming up with different musicians for a performance called “Sounds of stories,” which is a concept I came up with sometime back, wherein we’ll have a fusion of music with poetry recitation and storytelling… The poems have been written by my brother Tejas Jani and I play the drums, percussions and tabla, while my co-artistes Shreyas Dave is playing the flute, Marc Damania plays the bass and Nayan Kapadia will be on the keyboards.

Tell us about your journey. How did you get into music?

I have been into music since I was five years old—I used to play the tabla. I am actually the first person in my family to become a professional musician, though my father used to play the guitar as a hobby when he was young. I was good at studies, too, but I was encouraged by my family to pursue music as they knew it is what made me happy. As a kid, I have damaged a lot of plates by playing drums on them using rolling pins as sticks. I still play the tabla, but then I started trying out other percussion instruments and I love to experiment with different sounds and musical concepts and today’s performance is one such.

At a time when a lot of new bands are mushrooming, what makes your band Meghdhanush stand out?

I not only play with Meghdhanush, but with a few other groups, too, and I sometimes collaborate with other artistes, too, like I am doing today. Speaking of Meghdhanush, the reason we stand out is because we have always kept it real; it is the originality of our music that makes us different and probably successful, too. I am glad there are musicians coming out expressing themselves and there are venues that have begun providing them platforms, too. But it is difficult and sometimes not feasible to maintain a band for a long time. You can’t keep playing at different places across the city and get paid in free coffee every time, right?

Music, especially instrumental, has become a part of the curriculum in schools now. How much do you think this is contributing to the music scene today?

Music as a curriculum in schools is definitely helping students follow their inner calling for music, but sadly the situation is such that once the children pass the 9th standard, they are made to give up their extracurricular activities and concentrate only on their academics because parents fear that it may hamper their children’s board results, which breaks the flow. Then they are forced to either take up science and pursue engineering or take up commerce and become a CA (chartered accountant). Heck, even my teachers tried to convince my father to have me concentrate more on academics. I still know many such friends of mine who were very good musicians during the younger days, but now they are working in corporates and MNCs (multinational corporations) and they keep telling me how I am quite fortunate I am following my passion for music professionally. I used to play the tabla in school and used to stand first in competitions, hence I was encouraged by my parents to keep pursuing it even at the professiona
l level after I grew up.

Yours is one of the few upcoming bands that have gotten a taste of national television. How did that shape up for you and Meghdhanush?

We actually got noticed by the media after our Shaktiman theme song cover went viral on YouTube, after which we began getting gigs to play at different venues. The audience started to love our music and then Chhello Divas, the urban Gujarati movie, happened for which we were the music directors. In 2017, our first album ‘Mijlas’ came out. We still get requests from people to play ‘Kevu ghanu’ from Chhello Divas every time we perform live or go live on Facebook and other social media handles. So, bottom line, it has been good so far. We’re loving it and are looking forward for more opportunities.

Sujith Nambiar tweets at @sujith17nambiar. Did you like this story? Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter.