Aiming for the sitars

Updated: Dec 20, 2019, 11:09 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A band that fuses sitar strains with heavy metal to play a gig in Powai

(From left) Tushar Khurana, Rishabh Seen and Deeparshi Roy
(From left) Tushar Khurana, Rishabh Seen and Deeparshi Roy

A few years ago, by his own admission, Rishabh Seen found himself to be a "second-class citizen". The sitar player was studying in a Delhi college. And as a fourth-generation musician, his world had been engulfed by Indian classical till then. In college, though, he made friends with fellow students who introduced him to rock and fusion music.

Some of them even enlisted his services in different bands they played in. But Seen realised that he'd inevitably be relegated to the back on stage, sitting alone in a corner with his sitar on his lap. His instrument wasn't getting its due credit, he felt. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands. How? By covering heavy metal classics, a genre he had recently taken to. People sat up and noticed. Seen realised that he was on to something. So he thought, "Why not form a full-fledged band that's fronted by a sitar player?" And that's why he put together the three-member outfit that will play a gig this weekend, giving it the simple title of Sitar Metal.

The name itself sounds like an oxymoron, to be honest. But asked about where the confluence between these two diverse genres lies, Seen tells us, "See, I feel that Indian classical is an extreme form of music, and metal is the same. Both are the extreme ends of the same musical coin. If you're too quiet, it's the same as when you're too angry. And what I realised is that classical has an inner spirituality to it, while metal is a more social kind of music, where you can let all your emotions out on stage in a healthy way. So, I could tweak both to create a new kind of sound. I have seen people at our concerts standing with their eyes closed, even though there is a moshpit right beside them. That's the sort of thing that gives me a high."

But he adds that sometimes, people are put off by the idea even before they give it a shot. It's true that this sound might not be everyone's cup of tea (no one form of music ever is). Seen, though, tells us, "You know, we are not just trying to make new songs. We are also trying to break cultural barriers. Every time people click on our videos, they are seeing a sitar in action." So what the erstwhile "second-class citizen" means to say, in other words, is that his original aim of shining a light on his beloved instrument has finally reached fruition.

On December 21, 9.30 pm
At The Finch, Shah Industrial Estate, Andheri East.
Call 8055992993
Cost Rs 499

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