Published: 09th September 2020
Despite losing a hand, meet the Gujarat prodigy who has mastered all the percussion instruments out there!
Saurabh Gadhavi is a specially-abled drummer. The absence of his left hand has not stopped him from fulfilling his dreams in music. We speak to him to find out more
Disability is no barrier to success. It's true. Saurabh Gadhavi, a specially-abled musician who has learnt to play the tabla and drums using only his right hand is one such example for many youngsters. Hailing from Rajkot in Gujarat, Saurabh's left hand, from the elbow down, was amputated. He recalls, "Many people advised my family to have my hand operated on and to get an electric hand implant. Others suggested that it is better to get me educated at an institution for the disabled so that I could receive special benefits like a pension and other disability-related benefits under government schemes. But I was raised as a normal child. When I was in school, my friends and teachers never let me feel embarrassed about my disability."
Saurabh belongs to a famous family of musicians in Gujarat. His grandfather, Ishradhan Gadhavi was one of the most famous tabla players who laid the foundation for his journey in music. "Watching my father, Dinesh Gadhavi play the tabla, my uncle Chetan Gadhavi who is a singer and his son, Ninad Gadhavi, a drummer, practice every day at home, I felt that I must bring out the music within and carry on our family's musical heritage."
And so, the training began. With that came some good old-fashioned Indian jugaad, he explains, "From the time I was five, my father trained me to play the tabla. When it comes to this instrument, the use of fingers is the main factor. Since I do have the use of my left hand, I faced several challenges while playing it. However, I did not give up. Later, I started playing and learning to play instruments like the Drums, Timbales, Rototom, Nagara and so on by using a stick tied with a cloth on my half left hand."
This single-handed drummer's journey has not been easy as he has received negative feedback from people when he was began. Soon, he picked up the skills and started playing the drums in his own style. He explains, "I started my career in 2007 at the age of 10 by playing the drums in temples, festivals and school programmes. In 2009, I had the opportunity to present my skills on All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan. After that day, there was no looking back. I was invited to perform on several stages across India and was appreciated for my talent."
What made Saurabh more famous and a known face among drummers is the Rajkot Marathon where he performed for three years from 2017-19. "By playing the drums during the marathon, I not only encouraged people to run the marathon but also entertained them. At the end of 2019, I also did a two-month special tour of Manchester, UK to perform at Navaratri and Diwali festival shows. After returning to Gujarat, the state government honoured me with an award." says Saurabh who works with various event management companies. He adds, "Apart from performing various shows, I have also tried different concepts like water drumming, fire drumming and Indian rhythm solo."
Though Saurabh has invested all his time in music, he has kept himself away from academics. Currently, he is pursuing MCom from a private college in Gujarat. "I have scored 70.93 per cent recently in the final year exams of BCom and I am also preparing to attend the government exams."