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'I am very proud of the Grammy, but...'

February 13, 2017 14:00 IST

Sandeep Das

'Classical heritage is dying in India while it is being celebrated in the West.'
'The media in India wrote about Karan Johar lecturing at the Harvard Business School. No one took notice of the fact that I was invited to teach Arts In Education at Harvard.'
Grammy winner Sandeep Das speaks to Subhash K Jha.

Tabla maestro Sandeep Das has done India proud.

His collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble won a Grammy for Best Global Music on Sunday, February 12, in Los Angeles.

Exultant, yet saddened, Sandeep speaks right after the victory.

"I am very proud of the Grammy because I am representing India on a global platform," he says.

"This was my third Grammy nomination, and we did it this time. So yes, it feels good."

"I was also very happy because I was the only one on stage wearing our traditional Indian kurta-pyjama ensemble. Everyone else wore suits."

Sandeep wonders why there is so little respect for Indian heritage in the country.

"I get so much love and respect out here (in the US)," he says.

"I have performed at the poshest and most prestigious venues in the West. I have been invited for guest lectures at the most distinguished universities in America. But the Indian media has largely ignored my efforts."

Sandeep, regarded as tabla's most accomplished exponent after Ustad Zakir Hussain, regrets the focus on cinema and cricket in the Indian media.

"Ironically, classical heritage is dying in India while it is being celebrated in the West," he says.

"The media in India wrote about Karan Johar lecturing at the Harvard Business School. No one took notice of the fact that I was invited to teach Arts In Education at Harvard."

"I am so proud to be holding the Grammy in my hand right now. but there is not one single Indian mediaperson here. I am being asked, 'Where are the Indian journalists? Aren't you from India?' Yes, I am from India and I am very proud to be representing my country at the Grammys in LA," says Sandeep.

Das has made Boston his home with wife Tripti and two daughters Sakshi and Sonakshi.

Says the proud father, "Sakshi is an Odissi dancer. Sonakshi is a tabla player and a golf player, just like me. I find a lot of similarity between playing the tabla and golf. They are both about hitting the ball in the right hole."

Sandeep is not just looking at the West to foster his talents.

He is a keen observer of talent in India as well.

"I have started an organisation called Hum to sponsor needy musicians. We are looking after six visually impaired musicians from India," he says.

"We are interested in doing more for talented young classical musicians from India, but for that, we need the focus to be shifted away from Bollywood."

Subhash K Jha in Mumbai