Musician Bickram Ghosh is on a roll with 27 albums, and a deluge of film projects
NOT ONE OR two, but 27 albums is what Bickram Ghosh has under his belt, and he has now released them digitally, all at one go. Known for playing the tabla with Pandit Ravi Shankar for over a decade, and his popular collaboration with George Harrison of The Beatles, Ghosh, now 53, has earned an unparalleled reputation in the industry for his fusion and new-age experimental beats. Born to illustrious tabla maestro Pandit Shankar Ghosh and well-known classical vocalist Sanjukta Ghosh, Bickram Ghosh is the ‘King of the Island’, as the city-based percussionist likes to call himself.
Working on nine films at the moment, including two Hindi projects — Torbaaj and Band of Maharajas, Ghosh confesses that it is tough to meet deadlines. Between sound editing sessions for Abir, Jeet and the Nusrat starrer Asur, at a studio in the city, Ghosh tells us why being a part of Girish Malick’s Band of Maharajas was important, what it feels like to miss the Grammy by a whisker, and more. Excerpts:
Could you elaborate on your concept of releasing multiple albums, digitally, all at once.
Everybody thinks that it’s the worst time for music. However, the general drift, in my opinion is wrong, and things are the other way round. In the era of CDs, one couldn’t release more than one album, because of practical reasons. It’s possible to do it now, and without any extra cost and no ramifications on the sales, as it’s virtual. Look at the web platforms. They release multiple bits of content, and people who want that content will seek it out. What’s interesting is that your reach is not just local, but in the international market, as well. I had a backlog of albums that I hadn’t released, and thought it was the right time to do it. It’s also an experiment for me. The idea was to understand what sells. Fusion sells well internationally, and so does classical music. The agenda is to keep releasing albums, and not to be straight-jacketed by a genre.
Tell us more about the albums.
Paperboats is a big inter national project involving artistes from over 20 countries. We sent it to the Grammys this year, and missed it by six votes! Plus, there are commercial and classical compositions including tabla solos, ghazals and folk music.
How did you decide to come on board for Girish Malik’s Torbaaz and Band of Maharajas?
Jal by Girish Malick was a game-changer for me and Sonu Nigam. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2014. I introspected and started taking my film career more seriously. I took more projects thereafter, and that included projects in Tollywood, and they catapulted my image as a music producer. I refused to shift to Mumbai, because I didn’t want to be part of the rat race. I like to be the King of my Island. Girish’s Torbaaz and Band of Maharajas is a great opportunity for me. It would have been silly to refuse the role of an Afghan percussionist in Band of Maharajas because it’s a film on music, for music, by music and because of music. It is also eclectic in terms of the instruments that have been used, like darbuka and bouzouki.
What else can we expect in 2020? Paperboats 2 is a 2020 release.
That is apart from a whole bunch of films. I am currently working on nine films simultaneously, and I am looking forward to collaborations like Caryno — the single with the talented singer Maria del Mar Fernández. There will be more tabla and drum collaborations, and another project with American drummer Greg Ellis.