Delhi has a legacy of Indian classical music, says sitarist Niladri Kumar | music | Hindustan Times
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Delhi has a legacy of Indian classical music, says sitarist Niladri Kumar

Sitarist Niladri Kumar talks about his musical influences, his upcoming performance in Gurgaon, and why he looks forward to perform in the Capital.

music Updated: Jan 28, 2017 19:39 IST
Naina Arora
Sitarist Niladri Kumar is set to perform in Gurgaon along with maestro Ustad  Zakir Hussain.
Sitarist Niladri Kumar is set to perform in Gurgaon along with maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain.

Niladri Kumar, the fifth generation sitarist, son of Pandit Kartick Kumar and disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar is set to perform in Gurgaon alongwith Ustad Zakir Hussain in February. The event has been organised by Aravali Centre for arts and culture.

Niladri who lives in Mumbai, likes to to perform in the Capital due to its musical legacy. “Delhi has an old culture and a legacy of Indian classical music. It’s not the Capital for nothing, if I may say. I personally look forward to performing in Delhi. There’s a very discerning audience in Delhi and adjoining places. Every musician looks forward to interacting with the audience and influencing them with their music,” he says.

Niladri’s who has given his sitar tunes to several tracks in films such as Dhoom 2 (2006) and Omkara (2006) and others, says credits his father for instilling in him the love for music. He embarked on his journey as a musician with tabla. “Tabla was my first music instrument. I performed to a private audience, wherein my father played some notes and I imitated the same. Music was very much part of my family. Being born in such a family, it was very natural for a kid to be playing an instrument or singing. Because of my father, I started training very early in my life when I was four years old,” says Kumar, who released his first album using the zitar — a 5-stringed, fiery red instrument — in 2008.

Kumar is credited with inventing the zitar, an electronic instrument that emulates all the notes of a sitar but doesn’t have 20 strings. “There are many similarities between the guitar and the sitar. However, the guitar was the most versatile instrument, used in the classical genre, rock or pop. The moment I stepped out of home, I was exposed to music that was not necessarily Indian classical. So, I thought of reaching out to the youth, the section of people I grew up with and to represent the voice of that time. And to cater to the needs and demands of the generation that I live in, the zitar came into the picture.”

He adds, “When I started playing as a teenager in films, I was exposed to the world of harmony. When put between a DJ and the EDM, I wondered what language would make the global audience turn to our music and our country... a language that would appeal to the global audience too. All this put together gave me an idea of wanting to do an electric instrument where I’d have a chance to emulate other sounds, and that’d how electric sitar and then zitar came into picture.”

His last performance too was with Hussain in Gurgaon. Lauding Gurgaon’s culturally inclined audience, he says, “I am really looking forward to performing in Gurgaon. During my last time here, the audience were well-learned listeners. And at the same time, there was a very good mix of young people. I hope it’ll be on the same line this time too.”

CATCH IT LIVE
  • What: An Evening of Soulful Music & Jugalbandi
  • Where: Auditorium, Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon
  • When: February 12
  • Timings: 6pm
  • Nearest Metro Station: Sikandarpur on Yellow Line