In 2009, Pandit Rambhau Bijapure was performing in Bangalore and I had to accompany him on tabla. I had to be at the venue at 6.30 pm. Unfortunately, I met with a road accident at 5.30 pm and injured my leg. And, I had no other option but to perform. I directly went on dais and started playing. No one knew about the pain I was in till the end of the concert," explained Udayraj Karpur, a Bangalore-based tabla artiste.
The artiste developed an interest in percussion at a very young age. As his father worked for Kannada Sahitya Parishath, he spent a lot of his childhood in Bidar. Udayraj spoke at length to City Express about his passion towards music, problems tabla artistes are currently facing and his future plans.
Recalling one of the incidents that inspired him to learn tabla, he said, "When I was eight years old, I witnessed a Ganesha Utsav near our home. Musicians who performed in the Utsav had brought some tabla and other percussion instruments too. I was really curious to check out those instruments. However, I was not allowed to touch them. I returned home crying that day."
Soon, the artist started using plates, tumblers and other vessels as his instruments. Recognising his talent and interest in music, his parents admitted him to a music class. "I approached guruji Vidwan T Gangadhar and told him that I wanted to play tabla for Bhajans only. However, he told me that tabla will be taught only for classical music and I decided to learn under him for three years," he added.
Udayraj also trained under Pandit Sheshadri Gawai for six years. Soon the artiste wished to learn under Ravindra Yavagal. Speaking about his experiences with Yavagal, he said, "Initially, Ravindra Yavagal refused to teach me. He said that he didn't have permission his Guru Pandit Sheshagiri Hanagal's permission to do so. So, I decided to learn under Ravindra Yavagal informally."
Udayraj has accompanied some big names in the world of Hindustani classical music like Dr Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Rajeev Taranath, Pandit Ramarao Naik, K G Ginde, Pandit Dinkar Kaikini, Ustad Rashid Khan, Pandit Venkatesh Kumar, Pandit Vinayak Torvi, Dr Ashwini Bhide-Desh-pande, Ustad Sultan Khan, Shyamala G Bhave, Pravin Godkhindi, Sangeetha Katti Kulkarni and others.
He has also performed with Carnatic Classical musicians like Mysore Manjunath, Suma Sudhindra, Jayanthi Kumaresh and others.
"Anoor Anantha Krishna Sharma trained taught me versatility to perform with various instruments. B C Manjunath, mridangam artiste my friend also helped me in this learning process," he added.
Currently, the artiste is pursuing PhD on 'Growth and prospects of tabla playing and teaching in Karnataka' under Dharwad University.
He also wishes to acquire knowledge on various gharanas and pass it to the next generation. Speaking about the problems today in the industry, he said, "Young and talented musicians do not have the opportunity to showcase their talent. Many senior artistes are not getting the right exposure outside the state. This issue has to be addressed collectively by all artistes," he concluded.