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The second person I’d like to introduce you to is the only one in the band who gives Zakir Hussain’s curly hair a run for his money…. Mr. Amar Kulkarni.

Amar is a multitalented yet understated musician who is working on his very own Ajala Dhwani Project apart from a whole bunch of interesting musical collaborations. He has a sense of humour that can keep a room full of gigged-out musicians in splits on a terrace till the wee hours of the morning and has a heart of gold.

I’m pleased to have him as a part of Taal Inc. Here’s what he had to say… (Mother swear, I haven’t bribed him or anything!! ;))

MY JOURNEY WITH TAAL INC.

“On a windy September evening in 2008, I took a conscious and a very deeply thought decision. The 5 years preceding this were the most difficult 5 years of my life. A life away from the something I associate myself most with; Music.

… And that September evening I took that decision to reclaim my life. To reclaim most of what I had lost. A series of events followed; my work being the foremost of the list and in March of 2009 I landed in Pune. “Welcome back” I said to myself.
I lived for a couple of years in Pune, before I had moved to Bangalore, so I was happy to be back. I loved Pune and still do.

So, I got back to Pune and the first thing i really got down to sorting out, was my music scene. I really wanted to get back to playing music, forming a band and playing live so I started hanging out at most of the local venues around Pune.

Around the same time then, I happened to read a newspaper box mentioning something about a “drum circle” by a certain Varun Venkit, then-drummer of Agnee. With a lot of excitement, I called him up and enquired about how to get to the drum circle! That was how I got introduced to Varun and a TAAL INC drum circle.

I then regularly attended Taal Inc drum circles wherever they were held and I really had a great deal of fun. I often waited after the drum circles to learn a thing or two from Varun, and sometimes just random talks connecting us better.

On many occasions I’d meet him up at an Agnee concert, where I also got introduced to Janak the gentle giant! 🙂

In 2010, when Varun was heading to Singapore for the Mamady Keita workshop, he happened to ping me and tell me “a lot of exciting things are gonna happen when I’m back, stay tuned” So I did.

A few weeks later, Varun called me over to his place and I was introduced to this other sweet chap whom I had seen at many drum circles before. Dhir Mody, though I’m so used to referring to him as “Dhir Baba, aka Groove Baba”.

I met Agneya the same day. Agneya, as always, was in a rush to get out and go attend some exam.

So yeah, then I met them and I happened to play the djembe for a few minutes before going on the “Sangban-kenkeni” combo and I was instantly hooked to whatever we were playing.

I hadn’t really heard a lot of West African folk music at that point of time, and all this was very exciting because it had this undertone of great energy. I had a short talk with Varun and he explained patiently every aspect of Taal Inc. he had in his mind.

There was no way I could say no.

I wasn’t just being given an opportunity to play with some really bright musicians and wonderful people, but I was also being given another push to reclaiming my life. To make music, to play live, to play on stage with an energetic bunch of highly skilled musicians!
And thus, on the first day of practice, I met the mad bunch at one time! And that marked the beginning of this grand journey with TAAL INC.

There’s so much to say about each one of us all, Varun, the learning and the positive vibes, Janak, his persuasiveness and clarity and Solonie with all her love, affection and most importantly the intense grit that she has drummed with! I have to mention Zezu, vishay cut, all the madness we share almost all the time, Bipin and his focus during our practice sessions (not), Yamini, the brat amongst all of us… but a real sweet soul. Wendy and Pragnya, whom we miss so much…. and all the amazing artists we’ve collaborated with…

Dhir and Agneya, Gandhaar and Shreyas, my close buddies, the young fellas, but they’re each ‘baap’ in their own ways; each one of them possessing immense talent and have all taught me so much and continue to do so. Most importantly, I’d like to make special mention of Aditi, who I always assumed as an integral part of TAAL INC, because without her support I would’ve never done even half the things I do… 🙂

I could and I probably will write my little blog about each of these guys… but today, I just want to write about TAAL INC.

TAAL INC, as a band, as a bunch of friends, as an organisation, as a company, as a family… whichever way I look at it, has been a very important milestone in my life…

I really must take this opportunity to thank Varun and everyone at TAAL INC. for being the people they are; for being true friends and a great bunch of people to play and learn with….  Aditi and I both wish we all continue getting better and do many more crazy gigs and drop energy bombs on everyone! May we all continue spreading the good vibes!

Having been asked to write about my journey with TAAL INC, I can only say, the journey has just begun.

Someday soon, there will be lots to read and write about…
…. until then… 1….2…. let’s all play!!!!!!

Amar Kulkarni

Taal Inc. brings people together! 🙂

(I’ll leave you with “Right to Education” a beautiful song composed by Amar Kulkarni, sung by our songbird Yamini Lavanian [who you’ll read about next],  Aditi Bandekar and Anvay Patwardhan. The song was written to support the cause and the work done by Hope for the Children Foundation,India. Written {with help from Savita Tai on the Marathi lines} Show your love :))

Come. Drum. Be One.

Taal Inc.

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