Homeland Song

UK-based musician Nitin Sawhney feels it’s the right time for his first India tour.

Written by Zaira Arslan | Published: February 3, 2012 2:49 am

As Nitin Sawhney arrives in India on tour this week to support the release of his ninth and latest studio album,Last Days of Meaning,he has achieved yet another milestone. This one,however,unlike his professional distinctions,is more personal and closer to home. The concerts,scheduled today in Delhi,February 5 in Nasik and February 7 in Mumbai,mark his first live performances in India.

Sawhney’s delayed live debut in India is surprising considering his Indian lineage — the 47-year-old was born and raised in England to Indian parents. The musician,however,believes that now is the perfect time for his India tour.

“It feels like the right time to play in India now,” he explains. “It’s also about getting the right gigs at the right time.” After the first gig at Blue Frog in Mehrauli,Sawhney will travel to Nasik in Maharashtra where he will play at the fifth edition of the annual festival,Sulafest,alongside a number of leading musicians from across the country.

Known for political references in a lot of his earlier works,Sawhney says that he has gone down that same path in Last Days of Meaning,too,but with a difference. “This album was inspired by what happened in the last general election when I got quite fed up watching all the leaders of all the political parties talking about how they felt about immigration,” he explains.

But instead of making the album overtly political,Sawhney has chosen to create a metaphor in the form of a character called Donald Meaning. This character,played by John Hurt,is “a very narrow-minded,intransigent old man who’s become quite jaded by life and is sitting in his bedsit blaming the outside world for everything that has gone wrong in his life,” says Sawhney.

In the course of the album,Donald Meaning “starts to come out of his shell and,by the end,he goes through a transition”. The music,Sawhney says,is more acoustic than his previous albums. “I got tired with the whole electronica bit as I have been involved in that for quite a long time,” he says.

Over the years,Sawhney has earned a name for himself as a musician,composer,producer and much more. He released his debut album,Spirit Dance,in 1994,but it wasn’t until the fourth,Beyond Skin,in 1999,that he began to be recognised as a musician to take note of.

Since then,his career has been nothing short of magical. He released another four studio albums before Last Days of Meaning,all of which won a number of important awards.

With such distinctions,it would be nearly impossible to pick out a most memorable moment or two,but Sawhney says one of his was when he got the chance to work with Black rights crusader and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. “He’s such an inspiring figure so it was an incredible privilege to meet him and talk to him,” says Sawhney.

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