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From A.R. Rahman to Bickram Ghosh, Percussionist Shivamani Is A Firm Believer In The ‘Power Of Collaborative Work’| Exclusive

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Shivamani believes that Rhythm is his ‘God’. (Image: Instagram)

In this exclusive chat with NW18, the rhythm king, Sivamani takes a drip down memory lane as he talks about his association with music and great musicians like S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K.V. Mahadevan and other great stalwarts of the Indian music fraternity.

Ace percussionist, Sivamani has the power in him to create magic literally out of every little thing may that be with the help of empty water cans, a photocopier machine or even the smallest of stationery items- he has produced music with almost anything and everything. There is not a soul today who is not aware of his skills as a percussionist. But, when asked about what goes on into becoming a true blue legend like him, he says, “I jumped in the ocean and my first swimming was in my mother’s womb, her heartbeats were the first drumbeat I heard and those nine months in her womb, I continued to riyaz (practice).”

At an early age, when he realised his father was a musician he decided that from then on rhythm would be his God and “kept practising in order to worship and honour the God”. He says, “I want to keep my God happy which is why you will see me composing for films, taking out independent albums, doing collaborative work and so on, I take up whatever I am offered because this is my passion and it means a lot to me.”

Sivamani in the last few years has also been composing music for films such as ‘Atkan Chatkan’ and many more but while talking about his experience of doing so he points out, “It is a big responsibility to keep everybody happy about the kind of music that I am doing starting from the director to the audience. I always seek inspiration from legendary composers like Ilaiyaraaja Sir, Pancham Da and A.R. Rahman. While they are all experts at it, I am trying to as much as possible and showcase all the experience that I have gained in the last forty years.”

Looking back he mentions, “My life and career both started with film music because I used to visit studios with my father and practice there. When my father met with an accident, I went as a substitute for him to play for K.V. Mahadevan’s orchestra. When S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, my godfather, heard me play he wanted me to accompany him on a few of his shows and from there on people started recognising me and I kept getting calls from the biggest composers of the country.”

When pointed out to him that a lot of people believe his work has been with A.R. Rahman, he laughs and says, “They are not wrong in thinking so, he is like my brother and we have been together for so many years and its an honour to be working so closely with him.” Sivamani very promptly chose, ‘Taal’, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’, ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I and II’ as his best works with Rahman, till date.

Well, there is no doubt that his partnership with A.R. Rahman is hailed by the world today and according to Sivamani, it is their “Understanding with one another” that has kept them going strong and firmly says that he is someone who has always “believed” in the “power of collaborative work”. In fact, among his recent collaborative projects was a show called ‘The Percussion Kings’ that he staged alongside Pt. Bickram Ghosh and Selva Ganesh at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa.

Talking about this collaborative project that received a standing ovation at the festival, he says, “I was very happy to be able to perform with both Bickram da and Selva Ganesh, I enjoyed it to bits and the audience was so warm and lovely to us, it is their love that ultimately keeps us going.”

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