As Sandeep becomes one of the few Indians to have won the prestigious award, he rues about how the country fails to recognise its heritage.
Tabla maestro Sandeep Das isn’t new to the Grammy jitters. He has been nominated for the prestigious music awards thrice before. But on Sunday, Sandeep did the country proud by winning an award in the World Music category, in collaboration with Chinese-American cellist, Yo-Yo Ma.
Speaking to us over a phone call from Los Angeles, an elated Sandeep said, “I am very proud of the Grammy because I’m representing India on a global platform. We did it this time and yes, it feels good!”
A professional career spanning 23 years has seen him composing and playing with the Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, String quartets and Orchestras such as The New York Philharmonic, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and The Boston Symphony Orchestra to name a few.
Having won an award on an international platform, Sandeep rues that his music isn’t as appreciated here in India as it is in the West. “I get so much love internationally. I’ve performed at some prestigious venues in the West, been invited for guest lectures in distinguished universities in the US, but the Indian media has largely ignored my efforts,” he said.
Sandeep, who is regarded as tabla’s most accomplished exponent after Zakir Hussain, complains about the focus on cinema and cricket in the Indian media. “Ironically, India’s classical heritage is dying (in India), while it is being celebrated in the West. The Indian media wrote about Karan Johar’s lecture at the Harvard Business School, but no one took notice of the fact that I was invited to teach Arts In Education at Harvard. I’m holding music industry’s biggest reward in my hands right now, and there is not a single Indian media person here. I’m being asked, ‘Where are the Indian journalists? Aren’t you from India?’,” rues Sandeep, who has made Boston his home, with wife Tripti and two daughters Sakshi and Sonakshi.
On his part though, the maestro is ensuring that the legacy continues with his daughters. The proud father says, “Sakshi is an Odissi dancer while Sonakshi is a tabla player and golf player, just like me.” He adds, “I’ve incepted an organisation called Hum to sponsor musicians in need. We are currently looking after six visually impaired musicians from back home. We’re interested in doing a lot more for them, but for that we need the focus to shift away from Bollywood.”