Inside the labyrinthine lanes of Napeansea Road, a group of 15 young boys can be seen donning plastic bags as gloves and knocking on beer barrels and plastic buckets as if they were drums. The residents of Shimla House building in this residential complex are seen peeking out of their windows, as celebrated percussionist Taufiq Qureshi moves ahead to helm this pot and pan-wielding percussion ensemble.
“This is where we started off. We used to practice in a garage here about seven years ago,” says Taufiq Qureshi about Mumbai Stamp, an innovative band comprising his students, who use all sorts of waste materials like bins, cans, tin boxes and buckets to make music. “The idea came when I returned from a concert in Singapore. I was complaining about the filth around, like many of us do after short stints abroad. But then I thought, ‘why not do more than complain?’ I thought of a band from UK called Stomp and wondered, ‘Why don’t we have a recycled percussion band here?’”
Upon his return, Taufiq’s apprentices were faced with an unusual assignment. “Our homework was to collect waste material that we can use to make sounds. I picked up an aluminium sheet from the streets,” recalls Faizan Hussain, Taufiq’s nephew and student. The group comprises drummers in the age group 14 to 29, the youngest being Qureshi’s son. Since then, Faizan and the others have mastered their knack of trash-spotting and used it to explore new rhythms. What’s more, the group of green percussionists have even lent their sound to films like Dhoom 2 (2006) and the upcoming Ferrari Ki Sawari among others. This year, the drumming ensemble is ready to cut their debut album.
And this Sunday, the green drummers will take to the stage with their favourite instruments for a special Independence Day show. “We’ll start with a special song that is co-written by my students, Arun Solanki and Faizan. We’ll start with conventional instruments like djembe, congo, dhol and drums to produce unconventional rhythms, before picking up our unusual material,” says Taufiq.
What makes it more exciting is that the audience too can be part of Taufiq’s green crusade this time. “It’s like a bring-your-own-drums party. Anyone can carry their own instruments along and I’ll conduct a jam session by splitting the audience into three, giving them different rhythmic patterns and upping the tempo over time,” he says. Forming a drum circle comprising musicians and their spectators, Taufiq is known for his interactive performances. So what should amateur drummers be scouting for? “Anything that makes sound. People have even brought other instruments like guitars, and it has resulted in one mega drum circle.”
Taufiq Qureshi and Mumbai Stamp perform at Blue Frog, Lower Parel on Sunday, August 14, 9 pm onwards.