Sitar, the Star Wars way

Musician Purbayan Chatterjee debuts his SeeTar at Mumbai gig later this month

What happens when a child obsessed with the Star Wars series, who wants to become a Jedi, grows up to become a sitar player? He makes sitar inspired by a lightsaber.

Or at least, that’s what renowned sitar player, Purbayan Chatterjee did. A second-generation sitar player, Chatterjee is today, considered one of the most prominent torchbearers of the Senia-Maihar Gharana of Baba Alauddin Khan. However, his penchant for music never smothered his love for visual drama.

Along with working on Rewired, a minimalistic project with sitar, tabla/percussions and guitar, and collaborating with late tabla legend Ustad Allarakha and his son Ustad Zakir Hussain’s protégé Suphala for the second season of #LifeisMusic — the first ever reality show for instrumental music — Chatterjee has now jointly created an instrument that allows him to live life as a Jedi sitar player. Called the SeeTar, the instrument glows in the dark and changes colours when played.

“Obsessed with lightsabers, I had wanted to make an instrument that has a visual representation of sound,” says the 39-year-old. “I took my ideas to Klaas Janssens of, a Belgium-based company that manufactures and sells the instruments. He agreed to make the instrument. We then fine-tuned the design. The rest was his work.”

At his next gig with Suphala, Chatterjee will introduce the world to the SeeTar, which is made of plexiglass. And, to add that tinge of phantasmagoria, it is fitted with neon lights that respond to music. However, according to Chatterjee, it is more than just a cool-looking instrument.

“The sound blew me over. It actually has a unique feel that is a good combination of crunchy electric sound and mellower semi-acoustic. It is an electric sitar, and when used with a good guitar amp, the sound is amazing.”

When: September 30, 9.30 p
Where: blueFROG, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Lower Parel
Entry: Rs 500
Call: 61586158

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