Yogita Arun Tambe clearly remembers how as a child she would play beats on anything she could lay her hands on. “Cupboard se lekar zameen tak,” she quips, adding, “It was not limited to that. In fact, whenever I was served food I would eat while playing on the utensils, and got scolded by my maternal grandparents for doing so.” But it did not dampen her spirits. “By the time I turned five or six, they saw how even after being repeatedly scolded I did not stop, and they realised my love for music.”
Sharing an incident, Tambe, who has pursued her Masters in History says, “I was 8-year-old when the 1993 Latur earthquake occurred, the tremors of which were felt in Mumbai as well. My grandfather woke up to the noise at around 4 am, and the first thing that occurred to him was that maybe I was playing the utensils until he realised it was actually an earthquake,” she exclaims.
Tambe, who is 34 year-old-now, has kept her passion alive, and is today a Limca Book Record Holder in its 2019 edition for having successfully played 50 instruments in 49 minutes at Smt Kamla Mehta Dadar School for the Blind in Mumbai on June 25, 2018. “The initial idea was to play 100 instruments, but then I realised I did not have access to so many instruments. So we finalised 50,” she tells indianexpress.com
The instruments she played included tabla dholki, nagara, dimdi, halagi, dholak, nashik dhol, tasha, damaru, sambal, tal, manjiri, khanjiri, zhanj, ghungru, along with glass plate, steel plate, kasya plate, tutari (blowhorn), pitalwati, chapbook, and bangalya.
“When I was young, I used to have a home tutor who taught me tabla. However, I used to dislike the classes and wondered what I was being taught. So one day I suggested that he play me some songs and bhajans in Hindi and Marathi and I play the tabla on the same. He agreed, and after listening to me play the instrument, he suggested that I get training under a more experienced mentor,” she says, adding that she could see and read a bit at that time.
But gradually, Tambe lost her complete vision. “I was disheartened as I did not want my life to go to waste. It was my doctor who then suggested a blind school to me, where, luckily for me, music was a mandatory subject for 100 marks. It was there that I got introduced to a different world of music and my talent got the right exposure. I was lucky to be awarded the Ustad Allah Rakha Scholarship for two years when I was in the sixth grade, and thus, began my association with tabla in the true sense,” shares Tambe, who can play 65 instruments.
On being asked how she manages to play so many instruments, she says, “A person who knows how to play the tabla can play any other instrument. There are so many patterns in a tabla that playing other instruments becomes easy.”
While tabla is her first love, Tambe shares that she loves playing the daf (instrument played during the Lavani dance). “It is very similar to the tabla, and is extremely fun”. She, however, shares her desire to learn two more instruments and take the number to 67. “I still find it challenging to play the sambal and chenda. I find them extremely difficult to play — but I hope to learn how to play them and take the figure to 67!” she says, excitedly.
The artiste, who considers Pandit Bhim Sen Joshi as her role model, is all about positivity. “I have never thought about how I would have been more lucky if I still had my vision. In fact, I have never stopped myself from indulging in activities that people with vision do. I still do calligraphy, and have also participated in decoration and painting competitions,” she says.
On being asked about her record, Tambe says, “You know, when I was young I used to laugh at the kind of records people made — from growing 10 cm-long nails to breaking the maximum number of coconuts — and always wondered what record I would make. Having said that, this was not expected.”