Remarkable Story Of Parv Kaur Who Is Banging Stereotypes With Her Dhol
History states that the Bhangra industry has always been male dominated. But look who's here, Parv Kaur who is set to break these stereotypes by banging the Dhol drums with a set of women and recreating history.
Parv picked up most Punjabi folk instruments that her father’s band, ‘Bhujhangy Group’ were using on a regular basis, but she noticed there were no women to be seen anywhere in this industry. "So I started to wonder where are the ladies? This is when I fell in love with the Dhol. I’ve always been one to ensure that I stand out from the crowd. So to make sure I was noticed, I picked up the loudest instrument - the Dhol," says Parv who was inclined towards music since her childhood.
All of that was only because, she was bought up amongst a family that was heavily influenced by music. Her father, uncle and her cousins were all in a Bhangra Band called Bhujhangy Group. They were the first band in the UK to introduce Bhangra Music in 1967 and have earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the ‘Pioneers in Bhangra Music’.
Parv wanted to gain the recognition for females, as received by the males in the Bhangra industry. So whilst Bhujhangy were on stages performing, she was in the background learning the tricks of the trade - how to be a musician. The thought of making a change and taking the legacy of music ahead, Parv took upon her own adventure of Eternal Taal in 1999.
Eternal Taal started off with only three members and all they initially did was distributed flyers by hand and going door to door in the local area to advertise their classes. There were a lot many people interested in this loud and energetic form of music but again they were only males. Back at that time, females weren't interested or were either hesitant or not allowed despite having a female instructor. Eternal Taal evolved over time but whoever was a part of it could not carry music for a longer time excusing that they had their personal commitments.
"This was sad to see because I too studied, I too got married and I too had to balance life along with Music. So If I could do it, why couldn’t others? But I guess my passion burns inside of me 24/7 and I can’t quit and I could never quit," says Parv who still had a believe that there would be some women thinking about being a part of this change.
In 2009, Parv also started a female Bhangra dance team for girls who wanted to learn Dhol and also wanted to learn dancing. This was a huge boost for the team in terms of females wanting to learn. "It is a great feeling knowing others are inspired by my story and my journey. When others want to learn the Dhol from me and look up to me professionally and personally I feel a great sense of fulfilment - Knowing I have somewhat shown and opened the door to females in the UK wanting to learn the Dhol." And today, the vast amount of interest and the exemplary fan following has led Eternal Taal providing services like; Female Dhol Drummers, Female Bhangra Dancers, Female DJs, Female Sangeet singers and Female band baja.
Parv was also a part of her school productions playing the bongos and drum kit. Growing up in a family which had no restrictions simply because how musical her family was. "Nobody said, “oh you’re a girl, girls don’t play instruments” in my house. It was a very free household," says Parv when taking about the atmosphere in her house relating to her taking up music in a male dominated industry.
"To achieve something in life you must be educated and get a good paid job," said Parv's father who wanted to see all his children successful and in jobs that made their lives easier and he felt that was achievable only through education. This being the reason, Parv worked part time whilst attending college and university to fund her passion and also get educated at the same time. "My dad wanted us to have a life which he didn't and so I love my day job as a lecturer in Computer Science. But seeing Eternal Taal in the evenings is just as if not more rewarding."
"After learning various instruments through my father, I knew that with hardwork and determination just like him, I can too build confidence in performing for various crowds," says Parv who is today the first female Dhol drummer to have started in the UK. There were challenges that came across but the part-time job had helped Parv to save a lot of funds to achieve her passion on which she says, "Buying a car and getting my mum to sew us some uniforms so we looked like a team." And as time progressed more people joined Eternal Taal and they started to get booked on many high profiles stages, such as Glastonbury Festival, Bollywood, BBC and more.
Amidst all of this, the kind of unique instinct that Parv had within her made her face a lot of criticisms on she being boyish and how she had more boy mates than girls. Also she being into playground games and Karate. Here's what she got to say on this, "It affected me a little at times but didn’t bother me in the long run because I knew one day I will become successful." Motivating herself against the kind of negatively implied by people around her on a 'girl' playing a Dhol drum would knock down her confidence but, "Knowing my dad had gone through his own struggles and if he could overcome them and become successful, then why not me too?"
They started in a town in Birmingham (UK) called Smethwick in 1999 where the community hall was free at no charge and a few of them used to attend weekly to practise together. They're now in West Bromwich where they have over 50 students attending weekly to learn Dhol Drumming and Bhangra Dancing. "My double life is exciting, thrilling and everyday is different. The classroom, the students and the lessons are exciting both in computer science and drumming. I’ve got the best of both worlds," says Parv who feels blessed that she had something to always fall back on.
Every stage is memorable and Eternal Taal has been recognized in 3 mainstream Bollywood films. They have performed in ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana 2’ (2012), ‘Shaandaar’ (2015) and ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ (2016) on which Parv says in an interview with KenFolios, "This recognition really boosts the teams confidence and we have felt really proud having the opportunity to promote Bhangra music on such a huge platform three times."
Parv aims at promoting Bhangra music worldwide. Not just in the UK but across the world showcasing their talent and inspiring others to take up a musical instrument. When asked to summon the entire life experience with music Parv says, “Life has given me God through music!"
(By Anagha Punde)