Ajay-Atul to lend their magic to city's dhol tradition

The famous Ganapati festival of the city would not be the same without the energetic playing of drums during the celebrations, and now the tradition is set to get a touch of the Ajay-Atul magic. The well-known film music composer duo, who are brothers from the city now settled in Mumbai, are coming back to kick-start their ambitious dream project called Ajay-Atul Dhol Generation (AADG) by this weekend. “We want to make dhol-playing a brand that Pune will be known by, the way Dandiya dance has become an identity of Gujarat,” Atul Gogawale, one-half of the famous duo, said.

650 players chosen
The brothers, whose music for Bollywood films Singham and Agnipath was much appreciated, have involved 650 dhol players from the city and nearby towns like Saswad, Jejuri and Shivapur for the AADG project.

Drumming it up: The Gogawale brothers, who form the wildly successful music composer team known as Ajay-Atul

Atul declared his intension to start the Dhol pathak practice in the city at Krushnasunder Garden on DP Road in Karvenagar by this weekend.

“We have shortlisted 650 dhol-playing enthusiasts out of 5,000 applicants after interviewing them and conducting auditions,” he said. “The response to our project was phenomenal. You won’t believe it, but we interviewed people from the ages of 3 years to 80! They all wanted to be a part of AADG. The first step of selection is over and we are into the second step, of commencing actual practice and chalking out our plan.”

Atul said AADG would be a highly professional dhol group, able to play a variety of compositions along with eye-catching movements. “We want the tourists who visit Pune to get mesmerised while watching our dhol performance in Pune,” he said.

Beyond Ganeshotsav
Atul said the plan was to have AADG as an attraction during all festivals throughout the year. “AADG will not only perform in the Ganapati festival but also be an independent event for the entire year’s festival days,” he said. “We want the performances of AADG to be special shows, like a drama or music concert.”

The stated plan of Ajay-Atul is to inject professionalism in the playing of the dhol, which today is largely a speciality of amateur enthusiasts. Noted Marathi film director from the city Aaditya Sarpotdar is also involved with the AADG project. It was Sarpotdar who had assigned Ajay-Atul the task of using the traditional dhol and taasha in a song from his first film ‘Uladhal’. “I and the film industry are ready to help with anything the composers want in AADG,” he said. 

Consortium of 65 dhol-tasha mandals
A consortium of dhol mandals that was formed last year, the Dhol Tasha Mahasangh, consists of 65 dhol mandals in the city. The mahasangh is busy doing rehearsals for the upcoming festival season. “All the mandals are busy practising near the Mutha riverbed. Some are also rehearsing at the Mahalaxmi Lawn and the Siddhi Garden area. Pune has a more than 100 dhol-tasha mandals and all are active during the Ganapati festival season,” Parad Thakur, president, Dhol Tasha Mahasangh, said. 

Women aged over 40 form dhol group
A group of 20 women over the age of 40 years have formed a dhol group to perform in the Dahi Handi and the Ganapati festivals. Smita Indapurkar is the head of this dhol pathak, the Manini Women’s Group from Sinhagad Road.
“Young girls have always been in dhol groups in the city, but for the first time we have formed a group of middle-aged ladies — working women as well as housewives — who want to play dhol as an enjoyable hobby,” she said. “Our first performance will be at the Manik Baug Dahihandi Mandal today. We have also received invitations from two other Dahi Handi mandals.”  

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