Eternal Taal speak to The Asian Today about their latest Ventures
Midland based all-female entertainment team Eternal Taal have wowed audiences with their diverse and dynamic performances. From Bhangra to Bollywood, these powerhouse ladies have shown that anything the guys can do, they can do better! Their latest venture has seen them take Bollywood for a second time in Shahid Kapoors new hit movie Shaandaar
The dhol and dance group who have previously appeared in Bollywood hit Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 have gone from strength to strength, appearing on the Glastonbury stage, House of Commons 2010 and Dermot o’ Leary’s 24 hour Dance-A-Thon for BBC’s Comic Relief. The Asian Today speaks with girls about their recent success.
Hi Eternal Taal, welcome to the Asian Today. Tell us a little about yourselves, how was the group formed?
Parv: We started in 1999, in west Bromwich Birmingham. Some of the girls have been in the group for about 4 years, and some of them are quite new so they’ve been in the group for less then a year. Students join and learn the routines and that’s how we formed Eternal Taal. It’s our 16th year this year!
You’ve tapped into a very niche sector of music, what inspired you to create an all female girl group?
Parv: I was brought up in a very musical family. Growing up, my dad was in a very famous Bhangra band and they started in 1967, almost 50 years ago. They would be rehearsing in the house as back then there were no studios. My dad, who was the lead singer in the band Bhujangy, used to take me to gigs and charity shows, and it was so male dominated, it was just all men everywhere. No one ever saw a female play the dhol, that’s when I realised there’s no other females doing this, and everybody turns there heads when it’s happening, that’s when I started Eternal Taal.
Have you ever come across any prejudice being an all female group
Sangeeta: I started learning Dhol in London, and my teacher was a male, most of the people in the group were male, and I never really saw myself taking it outside the classroom. I left it and I lost interest but a few years later when I moved to the West Midlands to study, I came across Eternal Taal and I thought oh my god, I can’t believe there are females doing this. But in terms of prejudice, it’s everyday where ever you go it’s going to be there, you can’t really stop that from happening, and not just in the dhol industry but everywhere you go. We just don’t let it affect us.
Parv: Most people assume were mendhi artists or dancers. But picking up a dhol and taking it out of the case you get the looks. It’s been a hard journey as I started quite young, I was only seventeen. I think the younger members, because were at the forefront they don’t get it as much as what we used to get. They see a lot of females coming out into the industry as singers and dancers.
“Performing at Glastonbury was an amazing experience because children my age only see this kind of stuff on TV. To know that I was actually there performing was amazing.”
Obviously music is in your blood, had your father’s success shaped your aspirations?
Of course, he’s in the Guinness book of records for the longest running Bhangra band, he’s still singing to this day. Obviously its’ been difficult journey for us with the obstacles that we faced as females, but he gave us that ‘Bhujangy’ push and told me ‘you can do this and no-ones going to stop you.’ Our journey hasn’t finished, its just beginning.
You performed on the Glastonbury stage, one of the most quintessential British festivals. What was it like to perform on such a high profile event that no Dhol band has performed on before?
Parv: For me Glastonbury has always been part of me growing up, so that was one stage that we had to perform on. We worked so hard to get out there. For a 13 year old like Amrita to perform at Glastonbury, you can ask her how it felt.
Amrita: performing at Glastonbury was an amazing experience because children my age only see this kind of stuff on TV. To know that I was actually there performing was amazing.
Did you meet any famous artists?
Amrita: we watched Ed Sheeran and Rudimental perform on stage. It was really good.
Parv: the experience, I can’t forget it. I think Glastonbury was probably one of my favourite stages, this lot might choose other stages, but Glastonbury being one of the biggest music festivals in the world, that was one of the most amazing experiences.
How was your performance received by the unconventional audience?
Ravdeet: Everyone really loved it; they were joining in and dancing. We held workshops, playing the dhol, teaching them the ‘light bulb’ and ‘pat the dog’ and it was different to the normal things that you see at Glastonbury.
“We went to Poland for Shaandaar and that was another experience; travelling abroad for a Bollywood film is something else, another experience under our belt.”
You’ve recently featured in ‘Shaandaar’ with shahid Kapoor, what was it like?
Parv: The first time we were on a Bollywood set was in 2012 on ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana 2.’ Being on the set then was such an experience; you know I can’t even put in into words. Sitting next to superstars that you watched in your childhood, like Bobby Deol and Sunny Deol and snapping pictures with these actors, having tea with them was a different experience.
Sangita: They were both very different from each other. With YPD2 it was an outdoor shoot and we were together as a team all the time, it was over 4 days and it was so new to us we didn’t know what to expect. With ‘Shaandaar’ it was slightly different because they were in-door shoots, you know It’s the Kapoor’s, shahid and Punkaj and you’ve got Alia Butt. They’re a whole different generation. Their atmosphere is quite young and energetic. We went to Poland for Shaandaar and that was another experience; travelling abroad for a Bollywood film is something else, another experience under our belt.
Is it different being filmed compared to performing to a live crowed?
Parv: You wouldn’t believe that filming a 4 minute song took 4 days. The shots had to be precise, if one person leg was out of line, we would have to repeat the shot. The YPD2 shot we were outside and it was freezing and there were hundreds of people. For ‘Shaandaar’ we were indoors but the shots had to be more detailed because there were only about 20 people. For a 4 minute song we were taking like 8 hours to film a day. It was surreal.
Sangita: I think when you’re performing live, you work off each other, and you can give each other looks so you know what you’re doing, where as on a set of a film you do as they say and that’s it.
Parv: we couldn’t see each other as we were all in different positions; we’re so used to being together all the time, suddenly we were split in two’s. It was just a different dynamic; we had to be on point. It’s a Bollywood film; its being shown worldwide and we were just on the sets doing our usual jobs never thinking ‘oh my god, we’re in a Bollywood film!
Would you venture into Bollywood again?
Sangeeta: hands down, a definite yes.
Parv: When we got the call, they said 4 days in the week days, everybody was at school, college and work and I just said yes. But when I sent that text out, everybody dropped everything and was in.
Just a few questions for the girls, what’s it like to be in a famous dhol group?
Ravdeet: we don’t see ourselves as famous. I mean we’ve been in this film but it hasn’t really hit me. It’s quite surreal.
How important do you think it is to engage the youth and teach them about the older generation’s music?
Parv: I don’t think some of the youngsters listen to Bhangra, maybe more R’n’B or hip hop. I grew up in a Bhangra society, all I heard was Bhangra music; in the car, in the house, outside and at gigs. Somebody was always playing Bhangra. I think it’s very important that we don’t forget our culture and where we’ve come from. My roots are music, but this lot have completely different backgrounds and upbringing. Some of us are Sikh some are Hindu, we have Leena here, who’s not even Asian. Our routines aren’t Bhangra focused, we do a bit of Rihanna and we do mix songs into our routines because not all our audiences are Asian.
Lina, you’re not from an Asian background. What got you into dhol playing?
Lina: We had an assembly at school, and Parv came and performed. I watched from the back and I liked it. I spoke to my mom who then spoke to Parv, so I attended the fitness class. Parv said that I had the moves and that made me more confident with performing.
Ravinder what was your favourite performance?
Ravinder: we did the opening for the ‘Bend it like Beckham’ musical in the West End, directed by Gurinda Chadha. We played the dhol on the red carpet and it was an amazing experience.