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Meet the 7-year-old who mesmerised Games audience

Last updated on: October 4, 2010 16:48 IST

Meet the 7-year-old who mesmerised Games audience

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Keshav, the child prodigy who endeared himself to millions of viewers through his spectacular jugalbandi with 1000-odd drummers at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, is just an ordinary seven year-old who is 'happy' to be playing the tabla.

With a toothy grin and curly locks framing a cherubic face, the shy prodigy bearing a striking similarity to Ustad Zakir Hussain, kept bobbing his head spontaneously as his face wreathed into smiles while he kept beat to percussionists at the "Rhythms of India" segment at the Opening Ceremony.

Accompanied by his mother Gopika, her partner Nadaka and Bharat Bala, the creative director of the Games Ceremony, Keshav at his first press conference at the Main Press Centre with the same equanimity he displayed during the Opening.

"I was happy," said the young master responding to queries about how he felt during his performance.

Gently prompted by his singer-photographer-painter mother Gopika, Keshav responds with on-liners about his "one month long" practice sessions and his observation of the "chairs" at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

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Image: Keshav, the child prodigy
Photographs: PIB
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"He liked this one blue chair right at the top of the stadium and kept asking me whether he would get to sit on it after the performance," said Gopika.

Based in Auroville, both Keshav and his elder sister Kamakshi, who plays the piano have been self-taught.

"Keshava is very much into rhythm. He has been playing since he was three-years-old, he has grown up watching us and other musicians playing and copies them exactly when he comes back. It is like he has some memory from the past," said Keshav's mother.

The grandson of Prafulla Dahanukar, the child artist, says his mother has also picked up instinctively by observing the Basavraj musician duo who visit the family often.

Gopika and her companion Nadaka, composer-guitarist of Canadian origin live in Auroville near Puducherry where they conduct chanting classes and perform in concerts around the world. Keshav goes to school on his cycle to his "Rainbow horses" class (a term his school uses for Class II) in the village.



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An avid reader, Keshav's favorite stories are from by Dr Suess. "He loves the Snowhite fairytale, especially the part where stepmother transforms into the wicked witch... he likes all forms of transformations, he wants to transform things," said Gopika who adds that there is no TV in their house.

Gopika said she wants to keep things spontaneous and let Keshav pick his career in the future. "I have never pushed him to play and know that he gives his best when spontaneous. I told him his favourite story before the Opening Ceremony began and he just went up there and played beautifully and now he is a star."

Bharat Bala, who first heard of Keshav in Auroville and worked to bring him into the Opening Ceremony, said, "I feel he is blessed with talent. Even if Keshav was not there the choreography of drummers from different styles and regions of India was beautiful but he was the one who brought in the magic."

"With the 1000 of drummers this one child prodigy also means India is ready with its new generation," said the creative director who added "the closing ceremony will not have Keshav. It will be something new, we have a lot to offer.


Image: Bharat Bala
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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