Tabla player

"Amidst the plethora of musicals instruments present at any number of these [cultural] gatherings, Tabla was always commonplace and one instrument I always felt a great affinity for!"

Dhanraj is a talented tabla artist who has performed with zerOclassikal as part of Back To The Lounge: Baithak Sessions.


Dhanraj began his training at the age of 14 under the tutelage of Pandit Rajkumar Misra. In keeping with the lineage of his Guru, he follows the playing style of the Jaipur and Farukkhabad gharanas of tabla. Not only is Dhanraj an accomplished tabla player but also an experienced vocalist, currently receiving training from Srimati Chandrima Misra of the Kasur-Patiala gharana. Dhanraj has performed extensively around the UK and is fast becoming a much sought after performer within the South Asian classical music scene in this country.


Learn more about his journey in his own words…

What drew you to the tabla?

Like with most South Asians growing up in the West, my first exposure to Indian Music and Art was through community. Now being from the diaspora, my dad being Guyanese Indian (Indo-Caribbean), my mum being Mauritian Indian, perhaps what I remember of my childhood exposure to 'Indian Culture' may differ a little from your typical South Asian kid, but nonetheless the staples of being in the temple on special occasions, attending pujas, bhajan sessions and Ramayan katha as well as the more niche exposure to Chutney-Soca and Sega encompassed a great deal of my upbringing and probably my initial inclination towards music too. Amidst the plethora of musicals instruments present at any number of these gatherings, Tabla was always commonplace and one instrument I always felt a great affinity for!

It was only really when I started learning formally that my love for Tabla and Music as a whole truly deepened and set me on the path I am still on to this day. Up until that time, the depths of my musical interest had been limited to perhaps semi classical and devotional music, however only upon dipping my feet into the ocean that is Indian Classical Music, can I truly say that I fell in love with music…


What inspires you as an artist?


It's easy to answer this question by mentioning the usual inspirations typically spoken about by artists, i.e. their Gurus and various other artists within the genre that they listen to and find artistic inspiration from, and whilst this is the case for me too, I also like to take a step back and look things a little differently. I truly believe that music is a medium of expression that is inextricably linked to the human condition, as such subconsciously, when it comes to expressing one's art we are drawing from a multitude of experiences that have informed the make-up of who we are as individual. In the same way that being well read on a multitude of different topics allows for one to be a good conversationalist, finding inspiration in a broad range of places allows one to draw upon much more when it comes to cultivating a unique expression of their art-form. So be it listening to jazz icons of the 50s and 60s, reading the philosophical musings of the likes of Sant Kabir and Jalal al-Din Rumi, to even the works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, I try to garner inspiration from many places by taking a more holistical view of art and appreciating artistic expression wherever I may find it.


What has performing with zerOclassikal been like?


My experience with zerOclassikal has certainly been a fun one, I have enjoyed the rather laid back yet still respectful attitude towards presenting Indian Classical Music that really helps to take the edge off of presenting music which typically has an air of seriousness to it. The frequency of concerts is refreshing, the team; a delight and very approachable, always willing to discuss ideas whilst not ever shying away from giving advice, notably so, Jonathan Mayer, who has been an absolute pleasure to work with!