Never shy away from talents

Vikash Kumar showing his certificates. Picture: Rakesh Kumar.

AT the tender age seven, Vikash Kumar began playing the dholak. Today, the 43-year-old resident of Nukuboco settlement, Khalsa Rd in Suva, has carved a name for himself in the use of the traditional Indian two-headed musical instrument.

He is renowned for his unique beats and has a number of awards. Known as Pakka Dholakia, Mr Kumar said every person has a hidden talent which could go far if developed.

“I was only seven years old when my parents realised I had this talent,” he said.

“My father was a member of a Ramayan Mandali (Hindu religious group) in our village and I used to accompany him to their weekly gatherings where they recited scriptures from the Ramayan (Hindu holy book) and sang bhajans and kirtans.(Hindi religious songs)

“I loved the beats of the dholak and I kept practicing it on my lap.”

When he returned home, he would get hold of empty drums and practiced the beats he heard at the mandali.

“We also had a radio at home and I listened to the beats of the dholak and practised that with the songs that were played on air.

“I kept practising on empty tins and drums even though I didn’t have a dholak.

“My father saw my interest and saved some money to buy me a dholak.”

Mr Kumar said no one taught him how to play the percussion instrument.

“I had this raw talent in me and it got developed through constant practicing.

“The elders in our Ramayan Mandali kept encouraging me and through their blessings I am proud to say that today I have become one of the best dholak players in Fiji.”

He said he was only a child when he played dholak on the big stage.

“Riverroad Shiv Shakti Ramayan Mandali had a stage program where I played dholak for the first time and from then onwards, I have played dholak in so many shows and stage competitions.

“Singers hire me for their programs.” Mr Kumar said one of his cousins recognised his talent and gave him encouragement.

“His name is Jiten Sardar. From childhood he encouraged me to develop my talent.

“I later joined his Ramayan Mandali and was member for so many years. I was their main dholak player.”

He said in 2010 he was bestowed the best dholak player award by the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

“FBC had organised a Radio Fiji 2 local awards night in 2010 in which they gave me the best dholak player award.

“Two years later in the same competition, FBC gave me another award as the best dholak player.

“In the kirtan category, Radio Sargam has also given me the best dholak player award.

“My message to everyone is to keep developing your talents. Never shy away and hide them.”

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