Anuradha Pal on her all-woman band Stree Shakti, upcoming gig and more
This International Women’s Day will mark two decades of a unique journey that began at the NCPA. India’s first all women classical band, Stree Shakti would perform at the venue where their journey started.
Tabla player and founder of Stree Shakti Aunradha Pal
Founded in 1996, Stree Shakti is led by renowned tabla player, Anuradha Pal. The group members include Pal (tabla, djembe, udu, bongo, darbuka and other world percussions), Latha Ramachar (kanjira), Sharwari Nagwekar (Hindustani vocal), Deepika Sreenivasan (mridangam) and Kalyani Shankar (violin).
Anuradha Pal with the Stree Shakti band at a performance in 2015
Pal, who is one of the few women tabla maestros in the country, tells us that it has been a long and fulfilling journey in attempting to bridge the gender gap and encourage women to enter male-dominated domains. “The idea of Stree Shakti is to encourage more women to to do things they have been previously barred from.”
This time, to send the message across, an anthem — Khud Ko Tu Pehchan De or ‘Know Yourself’ — has been created to encourage women to empower themselves through education and fight against discrimination and social evils.
“I don’t come from a family of musicians, and as is known, it is difficult for an outsider to establish herself in this field.
Whatever I could achieve is through a lot of hard work and dedication and of course, training. I feel great when I can communicate a feeling of optimism to younger girls. The message I spread is that it is indeed possible to achieve success through hard work,” Pal says.
She points out that Stree Shakti is not just an all-women band but a rare group which blends Hindustani and Carnatic music successfully. They have performed at several popular festivals across the world like Rhythm Sticks Festival, Oldham Mela, BBC Music Live and the Common Wealth Games. Pal recounts their performance at the WOMAD Festival in 1999, with the audience playing on. The 20-minute performance strecthed for 55 minutes,” she recalls.
On: March 4, 6.30 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
"After we finished our performance, there were loud encores. Sting came up on the stage and asked if they wanted more from the Indian Spice Girls, and so we continued to play.
What was supposed to be a 20-minute performance went on for nearly 55 minutes," Anuradha Pal shares.
Back in 2014, Anuradha Pal and other classical artistes got together for a concert on the occasion of Guru Poornima in South Mumbai (View pictures)