Musically Inclined — Bhuvan Bhatia’s Soulful Journey

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Sonia Dogra, Keekli Reporter, June, 2017, Shimla

Born in a family of musicians, fifteen year old Bhuvan Bhatia has found his calling. Little did he know, when he moved his hands on the “dholak” at the age of five that he would soon spin magic on the “tabla”, one of the most difficult musical instruments. Bhuvan is a student of Himalayan Public School, Shimla and is presently studying in class X. From his great grandfather to his grandfather and uncle, all have been connoisseurs of this phenomenal instrument.

Bhuvan lives in a joint family. While his father, Bhupinder Kumar Bhatia who is a transporter, chose to stay away from music, Bhuvan’s grandfather, Devi Chand Bhatia spotted the talent in the lad and decided to train him.

Initial years were spent playing the dholak and Bhuvan would accompany his grandfather for satsang and Bhagwat at the young age of six. Watching him play during those events, his grandfather gifted him the tabla that year. With the gift, came a certain responsibility of learning how to play the instrument well. And with this, Bhuvan started training under Pandit Gopal Sharma, who runs his academy at Tutu. But distances in Shimla are not easy to cover and with school, Bhuvan found it hard to keep pace with his tabla lessons. Soon he had to forego his classes and concentrate on school. Meanwhile, he picked the dholak again and continued playing the same at local gatherings.

As they say, you can’t keep talent subdued for long. After some time, Bhuvan started learning the tabla once again under the guidance of Harjit Singh, who plays at the Gurudwara. For two years Bhuvan trained under him and the period was one of great learning. It was during this time that Bhuvan himself realised his desire to master the instrument. He was keen to carry forward the legacy of his great grandfather. From here, he landed once again at the door of Pandit Gopal Sharma, this time with a keen resolve to conquer all distances that would come in his way. He spent two years learning from this great Guru. Bhuvan recalls an incidence from those days that filled him with determination and a sort of encouragement. During one of his sessions where he was playing with a violin player at the academy, the way his hands moved on the tabla was immaculate and precise. He was merely eleven years old then. But seeing his precision, the violin player exclaimed that he was sure that the boy would go places! Bhuvan decided that he would make this prediction come true.

And so, he landed this time at the learning house of Pandit Kashmiri Lal ji, the maestro of Punjab Gharana. For the past seven months Bhuvan has been consistently learning the tabla from him.

“Training under him requires not just hard work but discipline as well. My hours of ‘riyaz’ have increased to three to four everyday,” says Bhuvan.

Bhuvan is a regular performer at his school functions and also at Bhagwat recitals. However, the schedule is pretty tough for him with great pressure to perform academically well in this board class. But he doesn’t let academics interfere with his passion for playing the tabla. He sees his Guru Pandit Kashmiri Lal ji as his inspiration. Although he looks forward to learning under the guidance of Ustad Zakir Hussain someday, he considers his Guru as his true guide.

Besides playing the tabla Bhuvan enjoys singing. He is encouraged by both his father and mother, Sona Devi, who leave no stone unturned to help him realise his dreams. He receives similar encouragement from his teachers and elders of his family.

Bhuvan wishes to take up music after class ten and hopes to make a career in the field of instrumental music and tabla.

Ask him if he has mastered the tabla and he gives a rather philosophical response.

“Music is like a vast ocean and we are mere droplets or learners standing for alms. A lifetime isn’t enough to master any form of music. Learning continues forever. You are a student for life.”

He also has a desire whereby he wishes to see great musicians come up from the small state of Himachal. He insists that music should be a compulsory subject in schools and focus should be on Indian classical form rather than mastering of western music.

For Bhuvan classical music is the heritage of the country and all effort should be made to preserve and propagate the same. On a closing note, where does he see himself a few years from now.

“I’m not sure what future holds for me, but I do know that with the blessings of my teachers and hard work, I will carve a niche for myself one day.”

With his eagerness and sincerity, we are sure he will!

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