It’s the humble, single-stringed musical instrument tumbi, which has caught the fancy of Ludhiana resident Kulwinder Mankoo, who works with a dedicated aim of reviving this once popular folk instrument.
Popularly known as ‘Tumbiwala Mankoo’ among friends and fans, Kulwinder performs on stage when not working at a private pharmaceutical company. His music features in several albums by other artists. His big break has come about in the form of a single music album that he recently released with a local music company, where his vocals combine with his magic at the wooden instrument.
Titled Main Fir Avanga, the track is a tribute to Shaheed Bhagat Singh and is based on the conversation between the martyr and his mother, which took place 20 days before Bhagat Singh was hanged by the British on March 23, 1931. While Ludhiana’s Jassi Singh and Sukh Dhurkotia have penned the lyrics, the song has been composed by Rajinder Singh.
“My work has received a warm response from my fans, manifesting in its popularity on social media. The song has received 13,000 likes on YouTube in only six days of its release,” says the artist. “It’s the music of tumbi that stands out in the song,” he proudly adds.
Asked about his fascination with the instrument, Mankoo shares that it began with the “social responsibility” he felt to revive this lost tradition of Punjab. “This simple instrument that brings alive bhangra beats must be preserved,” adds this postgraduate in management from Punjab College of Technical Education (PCTE), Baddowal.
Mankoo, who does not have a family background in music, learnt the instrument when he entered college. He did so from Jasdev Yamla, the grandson of the famous tumbi player Lal Chand Yamla Jatt. His passion received a boost when he won awards at college fests and eventually began to perform at public functions.
When asked how he manages his music with a full-time job, Mankoo says he owes it to time management. “I devote all my weekends to my music while weekdays are strictly for office work. It’s hectic, but this is what keeps me alive,” he says.