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Changing tunes

Tabla player Bickram Ghosh talks about his penchant for experimental music and working with the likes of Pandit Ravi Shankar and George Harrison

music Updated: Apr 24, 2013 15:37 IST
Soumya Vajpayee

Recently, popular tabla player Bickram Ghosh shared the stage with singer Hariharan at London’s Alchemy festival. We chatted with the musician about his experimental nature, his inclination towards fusion music and his journey so far.



You recently played with Hariharan in London. How was the experience?

It was my first collaboration with Hariharanji and it was amazing. We presented ghazals, Bollywood songs and some fusion numbers.

How do you strike a balance between Hindustani classical and international genres?
My core expertise lies in Hindustani classical. I’ve studied both the north and south Indian percussive traditions for more than 25 years. I performed for over a decade with Pandit Ravi Shankar and have played with nearly every top artiste in the country several times. However, I’ve also been exposed to western music. I’m one of those blessed musicians who have the luxury of experimenting with different genres.

What are the projects you’re currently working on?
I’ve produced music in association with Sonu Nigam for two films, Jal (2011) and Sooper Se Ooper (2012). I am also working on some Bengali movies. The albums that are in the pipeline are Untabla, Drumrasa, Mortal and Heart and Beat with Sonu Nigam.

You got a chance to work with George Harrison some years ago.
I played for Chants Of India in 1996, which was an album by George Harrison and Pandit Ravi Shankar. It was a big success, and then George asked me to work on his album, Brainwashed, which was nominated for a Grammy award. I shared a close bond with him.

Which have been your best collaborations so far?
My associations with Pandit Ravi Shankar in the classical realm, George Harrison for fusion and Sonu when it comes to Bollywood-style music, have been amazing.

How has your journey in the industry been so far?
I couldn’t ask for more. There are not too many artistes who can co-exist in three different genres, classical, fusion and Bollywood, simultaneously. My version of the national song Vande Mataram, comprising 22 of India’s top artistes, won the Global Indian Music Academy (GIMA) award last year.