Rani Taj beats the hell out of “Rude Boy”

Three of you sent me this video, so I get the feeling that you want SM to post about it. :) If only I hadn’t spent my entire Friday in meetings…you Left-coasters could’ve enjoyed an all-natural jolt from something besides your morning coffee. Better late than never, I always say. Type. Whatever.

I was confused by the video until about 15 seconds in; that’s when the performer suddenly transforms Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” from a song I rolled my eyes at to a joint which made me sit up straighter in my office chair. Do your thang, gurl, do your thang:

None of you knew who this fierce female was, so I scrolled through 281 YouTube comments– never, EVER doubt my fortitude or devotion to the Mutiny– and saw a name which I googled for a bit. I discovered this:

My name is Rani Taj. I am the first professional British-Kashmiri female dholi, trained by the Dhol Blasters and Azaad dhol where I am a senior player. I also dance with the Bhangra Blasters and love playing the dhol, especially at public events.

That’s from her criminally under-loved Facebook fan page. Really, world? Only three of you “like” Miss Taj? Forget desis needing to support Manoj Shymalan no matter what pap he may proffer, y’all need to fan the Queen of percussion. Yes, I said “y’all”. I already did. While it’s still public, toggle through her profile pics on Facebook; she channels David Bowie while in Desi clothes. All that flavor and she’s got the beat? Got damn, Batman.*

::

Yes, that is exactly how I intended to write it.

77 thoughts on “Rani Taj beats the hell out of “Rude Boy”

  1. First of all – CHAK DE FATEYYYYY bruaahhhhh

    Second of all – how many female dholis are there, exactly? Are they at all common?

  2. Her FB fan page is interesting. She is Kashmiri-British and waves a Pakistani flag ! That’s showing them Indians.

  3. that was sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet…

    glad she actually managed a smile midway during that beat

  4. She is Kashmiri-British and waves a Pakistani flag ! That’s showing them Indians.

    Yep, thought the video was awesome, went to her fb page and then said I’ll ‘fan’ her if she is still playing the dhol after Pakistan is Talibanized.

  5. She’s one of those goddamned Kashmiri Muslims raised to think like Pakistan is supposed to be their homeland. That’s as good as your average white suburban kid in the US brought up on the Nazi value system. Too bad she’s talented or else could have hated her with utter disgust.

  6. ” ‘She is Kashmiri-British and waves a Pakistani flag ! That’s showing them Indians.’ Yep, thought the video was awesome, went to her fb page and then said I’ll ‘fan’ her if she is still playing the dhol after Pakistan is Talibanized”

    Regarding the Kashmiri thing, she obviously hails from Pakistani Kashmir. The majority of British-Pakistanis hail from Mirpur ( a dam was built on their city, which was then relocated, as were the citizens, many of which then migrated to blighty, and many more followed) , the largest city in paki kashmir, located on boundary between paki punjab and paki pashmir. Even though technically Kashmiri, culturally they are almost identical to pakistani punjabis. They speak pothwari, which sounds similar to punjabi and is considered by some to be a dialect of. Don’t want to give you a history lesson, but this might assuage your amazement at her identifying as Pakistani, as most Mirpuris do.

    As far as Pakistan becoming “Talibanized”, that is probably wishful thinking on your part :)

  7. Fact, she loves playing the dhol, which promotes Punjabi culture. So who cares what flag she waves? Sepiamutiny is alos suppose to cover Pakistans, Bangladesh, Sri Lank, Tibet..shall I go on? All the Sub contintent…let’s just admire the skill people…

  8. Who cares about the politics? Girl’s got mad skills. Loved it. That’s the only time I’ve ever sat through an entire Rihanna song. That’s saying something right there.

  9. And looks like her FB fan page has been set to private. No wonder, with attitudes like Budugu’s showing up on it…

  10. The girl has skills! Nice to see a positive story about a Muslim posted on Sepia…and from someone other than Taz.

    Budugu: The difference between scum like you and the Taliban, is, well, not much. Nice job on leaving rude comments on her page, coward.

    Her FB page is now on private, thanks to a-holes who think they are so different from the terrorists.

  11. The difference between scum like you and the Taliban, is, well, not much. t o Neha, you can lecture me and call me scum after you sit through the night with your family, in the middle of India, at 9 yrs of age, worried that the lunatics yelling aalahu-Akbar and Pakistan Zindabad will break through the doors and kill your family and you.

    No one who covers herself in Pakistani flag is ever getting my anything – I have got as much right to say that as y’all ‘south Asian kumbayas’ can say about anything. Buzz off!

  12. As far as Pakistan becoming “Talibanized”, that is probably wishful thinking on your part :)

    Mackers, That is the last thing I would wish on anybody. It is more of a worry – similar to what you may have felt about the H1N1 spreading in Mexico, but just swap out H1N1 with a more lunatic version.

  13. @ Budugu,

    I am playing the tiniest violin for you, loser. You want to fight Pakistan, join the fucking army, dipshit. — American or Indian, pick your poison. Grow some balls and go fight the Taliban, if you are so anti-Pakistan and Muslims. The U.S. Army is recruiting, didn’t you hear?

    Leaving infantile comments on a young girl’s FB page is pathetic, you coward. Why don’t you go to your local mosque and tell Pakistanis and Muslims to their faces what you think about them so they can alluhuackar your skinny ass, you sniffling pathetic excuse for a human being. Scurry back to the cubicle where you spend your days acting all tough on the internet and picking on young girls. F-ing coward.

  14. You tell it like it is, Neha! But people like budugu won’t stop spreading their hate. They’ll continue to drag their foul other-hating agenda into the most innocuous discussion.

    budugu — Be sure and pass your victimhood to your children, too. Xenophobia is too sacred a thing not to perpetuate unto eternity.

    Thanks, Mackers, for that bit of education.

  15. I am playing the tiniest violin for you, loser.

    You know where you find a loser? On a Saturday night, by their computers, on random blogs, with rage-boners on. FTW. Later!

  16. Yep, thought the video was awesome, went to her fb page and then said I’ll ‘fan’ her if she is still playing the dhol after Pakistan is Talibanized.

    Also, I now see where all the confusion is. I didn’t write anything on her fb page. After, seeing the Pakistani flag, I said the above bit about Talibanization to myself. The girls has skills and is trying something fresh – I wouldn’t disrespect her personally like that.

  17. budugu — Be sure and pass your victimhood to your children, too. Xenophobia is too sacred a thing not to perpetuate unto eternity.

    My nieces & nephews did read about/watch the attack on SL cricket team, and the one in Mumbai. They are making up their minds based on those. Could you please pass on some examples from your ‘South Asian brotherhood’ approach that I can share with them – to balance out their perspective? Much obliged. Thanks!

  18. You cannot have it both ways. You have two options, IMVHO -

    1. Sell yourself as a brown ethnicity Britisher with oodles of talent that no one can ignore, and hammer home the oneness of sub-continent
    2. Sell yourself as a talented dholi with clear country bias, and then you should be mature enough to realize that you are representing your country, and get both the good and bad that comes along with it. There will people that will love her for it, and then there will be people that will not love her so much.

    With her loud flag, she clearly picked one of these options. Its not a smart business decision, but she is a free girl. Also, she is a hot brown awesome dholi, which at least in my eyes is a good reason to ignore everything else. As an Indian Kashmiri, at least that is what I am concentrating on :)

  19. im a kashmiri hindu who pretty much associates with kashmir, but to be honest, i was definitely a little proud when i saw that she was kashmiri – pakistani or not. being kashmiri is only something a kashmiri can understand – whether youre hindu or muslim – so props to rani, youre definitely a bad ass :)

  20. It’s very interesting to me that of the top 5-6 languages spoken in Azad Kashmir, Kashmiri/Koshur is not one of them! Mackers @7 is correct. Azad Kashmir is really an extension of Pakistan Punjab. Since India’s Punjab has less than 1% Muslim population, and also, since the heart and minds of the Azadi Kashmiris are with Pakistan, I believe that India should cede this territory to Islamabad.

    Regarding Rani Taj’s musical ability: Friends, she’s simply playing a standard dholi beat to an easy song in 4/4. I didn’t see anything at all remarkable in her playing, but I did think that it was remarkable seeing a petite girl lifting such a heavy bass drum like that. Her playing the dhol to this song is analgous to me playing the vuvuzela to the theme song for “The Office.”

    Finally, coming back to Rani Taj: Her name is very interesting. “Taj” means a Farsi-speaker (as in Tajikistan, or Taj Mahal).

  21. I am with Budugu on this – since s/he didn’t leave a message on the kudi’s FB page, s/he didn’t personally offend anyone. Looks like the-other-Neha is the only a-hole here, seems to always froth at the mouth on such topics.

    Paranoid Android hit the bull’s eye on the matter though.

    And the dhol beat goes on………..

  22. Was planning to put up this video on the wall of my facebook page but two things turned me off. First was this weirdo desi punk interrupting her play, first by dancing around her and later waving notes over her head. Makes me wonder why every good female dancer/singer/artiste is greeted with actions signifying money being thrown at her, seen that once too often. The second thing that turned me off was her facebook page. Isn’t music supposed to be universal ? If you want to flaunt your Pakistani leanings, I’ll show you my Indian patriotism, go away !!

  23. What’s so creative about playing a standard dhol beat to a standard pop song? It would be very boring and repetitive if all she did in her act is to simply superimpose that tired-old-dhol beat to current pop songs.

    I’m not turned away from her Pakistani pride. In fact, I like how she is showing the world that Azad Kashmir’s heart, mind, and culture is Punjabi Pakistan.

  24. First of all – CHAK DE FATEYYYYY bruaahhhhh

    Best comment in the entire post.

    Second of all – how many female dholis are there, exactly? Are they at all common?

    No video to link to as of yet unfortunately, but Jammin’ Jasmine is the only one I know of and have had the pleasure of seeing tear it up live. I’ve managed to convince a Southie friend to pick up a tilli and dugga but her Bhangra-based Bharatnatyam has yet to materialize.

    Friends, she’s simply playing a standard dholi beat to an easy song in 4/4.

    Of course she is, that’s what all dholis do. She’s got confidence and her sense of time is great- I’ve seen plenty of dholis, even those twice her size, struggle with staying on beat.

    re: the haterade: I haven’t seen a female percussionist so maligned since Oscar the Grouch denied a deaf drummer a chance to play for the Grouchketeers. As for Rani, how she chooses to identify should be secondary or even irrelevant to her playing, right? (If she was Jewish and whistling Wagner, that might be a different story.)

    Fact, she loves playing the dhol, which promotes Punjabi culture.

    Not necessarily. The dhol may not even be of South Asian origin.

    The history of the dhol is not clear. One source of confusion may be that the origin of the term “dhol” may be different from the origin of the instrument itself. The word “dhol” is probably of Persian origin. It is probably derived from the Persian “dohol” or “duhul”. However images of dhol players appear to be present in the bas relief carvings on Indian temple walls from the earliest times. It is possible that both the instrument as well as the name have some deep Indo-European connection. However, at this point it is just really difficult to make any firm statement as to the origin of the instrument.

    [link]

    Here’s some Kurdish folk music accompanied with dohol that sounds very similar to what we hear in modern bhangra and Bollywood songs.

    A hearty “Bruah” to Rani and another to the future female dholis of the world!

  25. @28, Marathi Guy,

    Waving the notes is something done to various performers. Just watch youtube vids of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. They’ll circle the cash around a bit sometimes before throwing it.

  26. Rani Taj, I do not have the word to describe your talent; so I will leave it to others who have done so already on your page….your are amazing at the dhol….I mean the mix you did with Rihanna’s song is a class apart, something fresh, something new, something that is not “rudeboyish” . Keep up the good work young lady…. I do hope to see your performance live one day !

    Your Biggest (well, one of your biggest Fans)

    Vik

  27. I have never heard (or “bothered” ) about Rhianna, but this song modified by this artiste… I cant get enough of. I mean it just works. The dhol fits in perfectly and it does not look like overlay but sounds like it is interwoven with the original song.

    Now the whole Pakistan flag thing is a separate, unimportant issue. Notice that she is playing in “Azad Dhol” … Azad as in Free … In an apparent reference to free Kashmir. The “free Kashmir” may be the only Freedom movement in the world that uses another country’s flag. Its like US using French flag in rallying support for freedom from the British. :-)

    But all that is a complete tangential issue. This girl’s got skillz and has made this song great. I wish all the best to her in her musical pursuits.

  28. V. underwhelmed.

    I am not comparing her to a mercury hot genius like Rajna Swaminathan, who at 12 was trading thani avarthanam with thavil vidwans, (and the nadaswaram in that clip is played by the majestic grandsons Sarvashri S. Kasim and S. Babu of the late great Dr. Sheikh Chinna Moulana, the performance was recorded at the Siva Vishnu Kovil in Lanham, MD If you haven’t heard the nadaswaram and thavil, be it known that these are the most difficult musical instruments to play. They require no amplification, and require boundless stamina that will tax the stoutest heart.

    If you want to watch women Indian-style percussionists, just search of Indian Girl Tabla on youtube.

    That said, all the best, Rani Taj. But there is a lot more to dhol than simple 4/4 ditties. Just as bhangra is a v.v.v.small part of Punjabi music. I hate pop bhangra because of the caricature it has made of Punjabi music. I hope we remember the great composers from Punjab – Khayyam, OP Nayyar, GA Chishti (the pitamaha of Pakistan film music) among many others, and its great singers, Master Madan, Saigal and Mohammad Rafi.

  29. I appreciate her talent and understand that it’s her prerogative to drape her dhol in a Pakistani flag in a showing of nationalistic pride. That being said, because of that very fact, I’ll have a hard time being emotionally invested in her. For me, she’s just a novelty. And that just the honest truth.

  30. “The other Neha”, by using cuss words and threats, you are propagating the exact stereotype your people are accused of. Don’t argue on behalf of of your opponents.

  31. I was excited at first, till i googled her and saw all the nationalistic pakistani stuff. don’t get me wrong, i have many pakistani friends, but none of them are like these delusional hypernationalistic mostly punjabis from pakistan that think their country is godsend and hate indians for no reason.

  32. I was excited at first, till i googled her and saw all the nationalistic pakistani stuff.

    Link, please. I got bored after the third search page of nothing.

  33. Those who are saying that the flag issue and her politics doesn’t matter to them. Would they enjoy listening to someone who drapes him/her self in a Nazi flag ? Get a grip guys, she really doesn’t have any extraordinary talent and no need to hype her just coz she is packaged nicely :)

  34. Those who are saying that the flag issue and her politics doesn’t matter to them. Would they enjoy listening to someone who drapes him/her self in a Nazi flag ? Get a grip guys, she really doesn’t have any extraordinary talent and no need to hype her just coz she is packaged nicely :)

    I certainly hope you’re not equating Pakistanis/Muslims to Nazis. That’s beyond the pale.

    I don’t speak for anyone else here but I’m not South Asian. I have no connection to any religion, and no connection to India or Pakistan. So no, her politics, which faith or country or people she aligns herself with, and what flag she drapes on her instrument have absolutely no significance to me. Doesn’t matter at all and I don’t care. I enjoyed her drumming, and it’s my right to do so without getting involved in nasty name calling like some on this thread or hating on her because of who/what she supports.

  35. 38 · Singh on July 19, 2010 6:08 PM · Direct link Those who are saying that the flag issue and her politics doesn’t matter to them. Would they enjoy listening to someone who drapes him/her self in a Nazi flag ? Get a grip guys, she really doesn’t have any extraordinary talent and no need to hype her just coz she is packaged nicely :)

    I agree with Singh. She’s a photogenic girl who plays a dhol, and not too many girls play a dhol at all. Moreover, of all the girls who play the dhol, she may well be one of the more photogenic ones out there. This is saying much, because she’s competing with say 11 others. The Boston NETIP beauty or talent show maybe more challenging than her competitive landscape. As a dhol player – irrespective of her gender – she’s novice. She probably has 2-3 weeks or months practice. You’d be surprised what a simple instrument the dhol is. There are very few tones that you can create, unlike a tabla, which is more multifarious.

    Finally, search for “Rani Taj” on youtube, and you’ll see quite a few videos of her. And yes, she loves her little green flag, and I’m proud of her for showing her pride here. I also view her as a goodwill ambassador between India and Pakistan, since she’s posing and performing with many Sikhs. Hmmmm…after scrutinizing her, I’d say that she reminds me very much of Melissa Etheridge, Ann DiFranco, Freddie Mercury, and Elton John musically.

  36. ” I also view her as a goodwill ambassador between India and Pakistan, since she’s posing and performing with many Sikhs. “

    UK Sikhs are notorious for their support to Khalistani terrorists. Secure in their adapted country, promoting terrorism in Indian Punjab. So I think its more of a case of “enemy of my enemy is my friend” :)

  37. @Melissa

    “I certainly hope you’re not equating Pakistanis/Muslims to Nazis. That’s beyond the pale. “

    Melissa,

    Lookup “Operation Searchlight”, then let us discuss this . Surely you are not of the opinion that Bengali Holocaust is less important than the Jewish one just because they are brown ?

  38. Lookup “Operation Searchlight”, then let us discuss this . Surely you are not of the opinion that Bengali Holocaust is less important than the Jewish one just because they are brown ?

    I’m not unaware. I still think you’re being unnecessarily hysterical.

  39. I think everyone needs to calm down a bit. This has turned in to some sort of crazy hate-fest all because the girl has a Pakistani flag on her dhol. Desis abroad are very proud of their roots, and I guess one would have even more a reason to display pride if one is an oddity, a Pakistani girl playing dhol. Kinda saying: hey people don’t associate me as doing this but here I am representing. Most dhol players in the U.K are from the Indian Punjab, and being a girl is even rarer. The girl keeps getting attacked as some “hypernationalist” when all she did is display a flag. Nobody bothered to do an ounce of research before labeling her all kinds of things. Both the groups she plays with, Dhol Blasters and Azaad Dhol, were started and are run by Sikh and Hindu guys of Indian origin. And no, the “Azaad” in the name of the group doesn’t have anything to do with the region she is from but rather from the name of the old band of the Sikh guy who started the Azaad Dhol company (He combined Azaad, the name of his old band, with Dhol).

    There are several people above who have tried to label Pakistanis as terrorists, including one equating the Pakistani flag to a Nazi one. When it got pointed out that she was no hypernationalist and she was spotted her performing with Sikhs in youtube videos, the narrative got changed to: Oh, those British Sikhs are terrorists too and I guess birds of a feather flock together. All I have to say is not one Pakistani commentator has had anything to say about India or Indians. I also pretty sure if the flag was Indian, not the current commentators nor Pakistanis would have had anything bad to say about Indians or how such displays are disgusting and the dhol player is such an offensive ‘hypernationalist’. Maybe it is wiser to look at our own prejudices. It’s preachy, but hate does beget hate, and if you are going to be offensive to someone else, they won’t exactly reply kindly.

  40. @ Melissa

    So what in your opinion is worse: 6 million jews in 6 years or 3 million Bengalis in 9 months. Just curious.

    @Mackers

    Identifying with one’s root doesn’t imply you support a State that promotes terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy, has anti-minority “Blasphemy” laws . I have met a lot of Iranian guys who are fiercely proud of their heritage but they certainly don’t support the Iranian State.

    And about the Sikhs, please don’t twist my words. I never said that they are terrorists. I said they support terrorism. I should know. Many Sikhs in Canada and UK, who themselves have cushy lifestyles, fund terrorism in I. Punjab.

  41. Singh,

    I really have no further interest in speaking with you. You clearly have an agenda that no amount of polite reasoning will make you turn away from.

  42. Our common culture is that slender rope that still ties our people together as we drift slowly apart. Shall we let it fray? Or should we consider it to be an imaginary, hallowed coffee shop where we all gather to escape the streets?

    That is the question.

  43. I stated that I find somebody draped in Pakistani flag as offensive as somebody prancing around in a Nazi flag. I gave my reasons ( the Bengali Holocaust). If you guys still prefer to keep your eyes wide shut in the name of “South Asian” comity, don’t let me spoil the party .

    @eyecatchy

    The only thread of common culture is between the two Punjabs. Even that is being slowly torn apart with the Lahore High Court banning Basant celebrations and Kite flying because of “Hindu roots”. Sad.

  44. First of all – CHAK DE FATEYYYYY bruaahhhhh

    Best comment in the entire post.

    Second of all – how many female dholis are there, exactly? Are they at all common?

    No video to link to as of yet unfortunately, but Jammin’ Jasmine is the only one I know of and have had the pleasure of seeing tear it up live. I’ve managed to convince a Southie friend to pick up a tilli and dugga but her Bhangra-based Bharatnatyam has yet to materialize.

    Friends, she’s simply playing a standard dholi beat to an easy song in 4/4.

    Of course she is, that’s what all dholis do. What do you want from her? If you’re expecting some John Cage-style aleatory from traditional North Indian instruments, check out my bud Kush Arora. Rani’s got confidence and her sense of time is great- I’ve seen plenty of dholis, even those twice her size , struggle with staying on beat. Even Ringo Starr’s drumming was (and still is) dismissed as basic and unchallenging compared to the innovations that George, Paul, and John changed pop music with, but his ability to create a solid backbone for the rest of the Beatles to build upon was recognized their producer, George Martin, and countless of other musicians influenced by his driving backbeat.

    She’s one of those goddamned Kashmiri Muslims raised to think like Pakistan is supposed to be their homeland. That’s as good as your average white suburban kid in the US brought up on the Nazi value system.
    Those who are saying that the flag issue and her politics doesn’t matter to them. Would they enjoy listening to someone who drapes him/her self in a Nazi flag ?

    What’s with the Reductio ad Hitlerum? Was she whistling Wagner under her breath? I haven’t seen a female percussionist so maligned since Oscar the Grouch denied a deaf drummer a chance to play for the Grouchketeers.

    Hmmmm…after scrutinizing her, I’d say that she reminds me very much of Melissa Etheridge, Ann DiFranco, Freddie Mercury, and Elton John musically.

    FAIL.

    And about the Sikhs, please don’t twist my words. I never said that they are terrorists. I said they support terrorism.

    Ooh, I love 2005-era inspired sophistry. Finish this sentence: I ain’t saying she’s a gold digga, but she ain’t messing with no ___________.