Pt Ravi Shankar taught me to be a global citizen: Bickram Ghosh

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Bickram Ghosh (Photo: IANS)

By Ekatmata Sharma

New Delhi– Tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh is one of the most well-known names in the world of Indo-fusion music.

Having performed the world over with the greatest names in classical music, he is also one of the pioneers of experimental fusion music.

He is also a successful film music director, having scored for 40 feature films, including Mira Nair’s ‘Little Zizou’.

In the past, he had teamed up with Sonu Nigam and together the duo composed music in Bollywood for three films, the first of which was director Girish Malik’s ‘Jal’, which went for Oscar contention for best original score. Several of his Bengali films as a music composer have been well-received by the audience.

Bickram entered the OTT space with music composition for the film ‘Torbaz’, directed by Girish Malik and starring Sanjay Dutt.

Talking about his experience of creating music for the digital space, Bickram told IANS: “‘Torbaz’ was a very challenging score, as it was set in Afghanistan. I had to create the soundscape of the Afghan world. So I used a lot of Afghan instruments. It is an important score for me and I got a lot of accolades for it. Girish Malik shot it beautifully. The soundtrack is very special as it adheres to a very unique soundscape of the middle-east.”

The son and disciple of illustrious tabla maestro Pt Shankar Ghosh and well-known vocalist Sanjukta Ghosh, Bickram also learnt the nuances of Carnatic percussion, the mridangam, from Pt S. Sekhar.

He also learnt the intricacies of accompaniment from Pt Ravi Shankar with whom he played for over a decade at several global venues.

Talking about the influence of the stalwart in his life, he told IANS: “Pt Ravi Shankar was my guru. The opportunity of performing with him for over a decade honed me as a tabla player. It brought me recognition. When you are playing with the best, everybody knows you well. I understood how to be a global citizen from him. Even my film music compositions have a lot of influences from him. He was a huge influence on me. He changed my life forever.”

As a tabla player, Bickram’s four albums were nominated for Grammy awards, including George Harrison’s ‘Brainwashed’. He played on ‘Full Circle’ with Pt Ravi Shankar which won the latter a Grammy.

After travelling the world and performing in concerts with illustrious artistes, Bickram tapped on to create the pioneering fusion band ‘Rhythmscape’ in 2000.

“The inspiration behind ‘Rhythmscape’ was to find a new sound, a new mode of expression musically. I worked on it for a long time and made the compositions that have sustained for 20 years. The band is one of the most long-lasting ones in the country. It was also to express the person I am — not just one person but a mish-mash of cultures, so that needed to be expressed through music and ‘Rhythmscape’ was that voice for me.”

Bickram’s band has performed throughout the length and breadth of India and made its UK debut in 2003 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Later, they performed at the Forum in Barcelona where the band shared the stage with Sting, Phil Collins, Norah Jones and Bob Dylan.

Asked what inspires him to create music each day, Bickram said: “Music is the sound of god. Those who have been blessed with music, their lives are coloured. I wake up in the morning and I just wait to go to my studio every day. I enjoy the studio, the concerts, the stage, the travel and the collaborations. And at the same time, I get paid for it. What better career can somebody expect? And to top it, we have accolades and love of the people. Every day I am charged just by music.”

The artiste has an interesting line-up of upcoming projects in Hindi and Bengali films.

“I am currently working on the music of a Hindi film titled ‘Band of Maharajas’ directed by Girish Malik. Several Bengali films are also loined up such as ‘Golandaaz’, ‘Mayakumari’, ‘Mahananda’ and ‘Abhijatrik’,” Bickram signed off. (IANS)

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