People | A Man For All Tunes

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A Man For All Tunes
Text by Shreya Shah
Published: Volume 21, Issue 11, November, 2013

Dibyajotti Dutta, one of India’s leading percussionists, is a master of many beats for he plays a variety of instruments with equal élan

The name ‘Jonqui’ by which he is popularly known is enough to set him apart. Dibyajotti Dutta says, “It is derived from an old Assamese folk tale in which the main character is a guy named Jonqui. My father used to call me that and it became my nickname. When I moved from Assam to Mumbai, I took it up as my professional name.”

Jonqui has honed his musical skills under the tutelage of Pandit Madan Mohan Upadhay, Pandit Ramakant Pathak, and Ustad Allarakha. After a specialisation in tabla, B. Mus. (Bachelor of Music), he was a radio artist and a member of the Kailasha Band for three years. He has also played live with Midival Punditz , Jelebee Cartel and Blot.

He has walked to a different drummer in pursuing his passion for music. He says, “I come from a family who are all musical lovers but are not professional musicians. I started playing the tabla at the age of 10 and so I trained and studied it, and started performing with DJs. Later, I started learning other instruments like bonjo, djembe, kastur and dholak on my own.”

With a degree of modesty, he says that he can play a few musical instruments. Prod him a bit and he says “about 12 different ones”. Not content with cutting albums with reigning DJs like DJ Suketu, Aqueel, Nikhil Chinappa and Akbar Sami, he has worked with Usha Mangeshkar, has done ad jingles and Bollywood numbers and has also collaborated with international DJs. He has also added his touch to regional films and albums.

He believes that he did get his big break when he started playing for Kailash Kher’s band, Kailasha. “I met Kailash a few times before Allah ke bande happened. Then I met him again at a studio and he said he was starting a band and asked me if I wanted to join. So I did. It was a great experience to play with them for three years. But I liked playing with DJs; there are no rehearsals, nothing, it’s just pure fun. So I’ve been doing that since.”

And if you thought he is only about music, you would be taken aback. He also enjoys travelling, music, sports and he even dabbles in fashion designing!

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