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When Nitin Sawhney comes to India on tour this week to support the release of his ninth and latest studio album,Last Days of Meaning,he will have achieved another milestone.

Written by Zaira Arslan | Published: February 2, 2012 3:21:21 am

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

When Nitin Sawhney comes to India on tour this week to support the release of his ninth and latest studio album,Last Days of Meaning,he will have achieved another milestone. This one,however,unlike his many professional distinctions,will be more personal and closer to home. The concerts,scheduled for February 3 in Delhi,February 5 in Nasik and February 7 in Mumbai,will 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 in Blue Frog,Delhi,Sawhney travels to Nasik where he will play at the fifth edition of the annual festival,Sulafest,alongside a number of leading musicians from the country. Incidentally,this is the first time since its inception that Sulafest will take place over two days — February 4 and 5 — with all previous editions being only day-long affairs. This time around,the festival will begin at 12.30 pm and end at 10 pm on both days,with Sawhney’s performance being the penultimate gig of the festival.

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

But instead of making the album overtly political,he chose to create a metaphor in the form of a character,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”. In the course of the album,he “starts to come out of his shell and by the end he goes through a transition”. The music,Sawhney says,is more acoustic than on his previous albums. “I got tired with the whole electronica bit as I’ve been involved in that for a long time,” he says.

Over the years,Sawhney has earned a name for himself as a musician,composer,producer and so much more. He released his debut album,Spirit Dance,in 1994,but it wasn’t until the fourth,Beyond Skin,in 1999 that he was truly 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 distinctions such as his,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 Nelson Mandela. “He’s such an inspiring figure so it was an incredible privilege to meet him and talk to him,” he recalls.

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