Ranjit Barot
Ranjit Barot Image Credit: IANS

Stressing that the Hindi film industry is an institution that doesn’t place talent and virtuosity at the top of is list and runs on nepotism, India’s best known drummer and music director Ranjit Barot didn’t mince words in a recent interview.

Described by guitar legend John McLaughlin as “one of the leading edges in drumming”, Barot stated: “It looks to cultivate a servile attitude in the people that service that industry. Therefore, not a good fit for me. However, if the right director and brief comes my way, I would gladly collaborate.”

Barot, who has won multiple awards in his lifetime has been part of more than 50 films as a music director, lyricist, music composer, sound designer and singer has also collaborated with major international artists including McLaughlin, Jonas Helborg, Ayden Esen, and Tim Garland.

He has also been the musical director of all of AR Rehman’s live shows for several years now.

For someone, who started playing at the age of 12, encouraged by his mother, the legendary dancer Sitara Devi, and has been around in the industry since the age of 17, starting with Kalyanji Anandji right until AR Rahman, the musician has now begun a unique collaboration with Mumbai-based True School of Music.

While the lockdown has spelled doom for performing artists, Barot has managed to record a new song and video with McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension. “I’ve written a bunch of new music that will soon be released by Abstractlogix, the same record label that released my 2010 jazz-world-fusion record ‘Bada Boom’. It features musicians from India, the UK, France and the US. This is besides a vocal project driven by my alter ego ‘Musafir’, featuring some of the finest singers in India: So all in all, creatively, it has been a big tick!”

Given the state of independent bands in the country, further crushed by the pandemic, one wonders how they can now re-emerge and sustain themselves.

“Well, a reason for me to start ‘Superhonic’ (his band) was to have a vent into the indie music scene, which is growing but not ‘there’ yet. Promoters have to stop treating the indie music scene as the ‘poor step child’ of the film industry,” Barot said. “Monies have to find their way to the musicians so that they can sustain and develop their craft. And yes, musicians and artists have to up their game too.

If they are to command respect and money, they have to match up to what’s happening in the rest of the world. Your reference point has to be global as far as production values and songwriting skills are concerned, along with keeping a pulse on what’s trending musically locally. Yes, It’s an interesting and challenging time, one that I’m willing to embrace wholeheartedly.”