If the IPL is also about colour and rhythm, then there are no marks for guessing the name that provides most of it. Every time the team plays, the unmistakable figure of A. Sivamani, in his trademark bandana and Chennai Super Kings shirt, can be spotted on the boundary line keeping fans on their feet with his artistry.
The celebrated percussionist parks himself near the cheerleaders and drums out beats that add to the festive mood. Apart from keeping fans in high spirits, he provides them with something to cheer for apart from the big hits.
After last year, Sivamani has been a big hit in South Africa too. “Whatever comes to my mind I play,” he told the Hindustan Times at the hotel where he kept drumming on a wooden box at the tea table.
“In India, I usually concentrate on a mix of folk beats with jazz, rap, rhythm and blues and, of course, the elements of bhangra. In South Africa, I'm less choosy and am using a bit of dholaks used in Nasik.”
There were non-stop chants of “Sivamani, Sivamani” in Kimberley on Saturday, and the crowds enjoyed every bit of his offering. “There is no point in getting into some complicated Carnatic rhythm. The idea is to reach out to people so that they enjoy these hours.”
Recalling his foray into the cricket field, Sivamani said, “During the 1999 World Cup in England, I played a small drum by the boundary line but not many took interest.”
Five years later at the same venue (during the Champions Trophy), he was forced to leave his drums at the gate by the security. “I ended up using plastic vessels meant to collect garbage. I still remember how the fans enjoyed it.”
Is he enjoying his time in South Africa and exploring the myriad schools of rhythm the continent is home to? “It's like being a small fish in the ocean. I am swimming and learning the intricacies of my trade. Everyday, I am learning… Of course, there are lots of fascinating beats in Africa and there is no end to learning. But it's not only about music.”
Not many know that AR Rehman let Sivamani skip a programme in Kochi on May 3. “He was kind enough to excuse me and let me be here,” he said. If fans were to learn of this gesture, they would surely be singing Jaya Ho in unison.