Having the exclusive privilege of playing at the Robert Albert Hall in London, among 81 other countries, renowned Hindustani classical music instrumentalist Padma Shri Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt talks about being one of the few cultural ambassadors of the country, his Bollywood connection and about popularising Indian culture and music throughout the world, single-handedly.
In the city for the same reason, Bhatt will be performing in educational institutes across Chandigarh for SPIC MACAY’s (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) Chandigarh chapter.
He feels the responsibility of taking forward Indian cultural music is big for his shoulders, but he has always been honest towards it. “That is the reason why people in turn give love and respect to me and my music,” says the Mohan Veena player.
About the scope of Indian classical music in Bollywood, he says, “The filmmakers these days promote sex and nudity as they are sold easily. I am not an orthodox musician and believe in going with the flow. It’s not that I can’t make music for a song like Sheila Ki Jawani, it’s just that I believe that a song should have sur and taal.”
Being a powerhouse performer, Bhatt’s electrifying performances have always captivated audiences across the world. What stands out most is his natural ability to play the tantrakari ang and incorporate the gayaki ang on Mohan Veena.
Passing on the legacy to his sons and grandson, Bhatt proudly shares, “My grandson Satvik Bhatt is also a musician and a Limca Book of World Record holder for being the world’s youngest Mohan Veena player at the age of three and a half years. He can also identify 45 raagas at such a young age!” He goes on, “We have a 300-year long legacy in classical music. It runs in our blood and I feel blessed that my children have taken the responsibility to carry the lineage further.”
Bhatt feels the youngsters lack interest in Indian classical music. “However, I have also observed that with time, they now know beyond Madonna,” he laughs, and adds, “The only way to create awareness among them is to introduce music as a compulsory subject.”
On playing for Bollywood, the instrumentalist says, “Bollywood manzil hai, main nahi manta... (I don’t believe that Bollywood is the ultimate goal). My aim has always been to maintain and promote Indian classical music globally. If I too get glamour-struck, who will keep alive the Indian culture and music?”
“I have contributed to the National Award winning song of Ishqiya with my Mohan Veena and also played with AR Rehman for Lagaan and Saathiya,” says Bhatt, who is best known for his Grammy award winning album, A Meeting by the River.
Also popular for fusion and pan-cultural collaborations with western artists such as Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck and Jerry Douglas, you can catch him playing today at Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36, at 9 am and at Shivalik Public School, SAS Nagar, at 11.30 am.