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Jalandhar musician, who worked with AR Rahman, is winning acclaim by playing rare instrument

The Apeejay student has been honoured as Grade A artist by All India Radio



Sandeep Singh, a student of Apeejay School of Fine Arts (ACFA) was accorded the title of a Grade A artist by All India Radio for playing dilruba, a stringed Indian instrument. The title was granted by an expert panel of judges who elevated him from Grade B-high, which was granted in 2011.

Made of metal, parchment, and horsehair, dilruba is an instrument in Northern Classical music traditionally played in religious ceremonies across North India. It is used as an accompanying instrument in Gurbani or hymns by Sikh gurus.

Sandeep, who is now in his fourth semester of MA Music Instrument, began learning dilruba at the age of 11. His first stage performance was in 2014. Since then, he has mesmerised people with his music not only in India but also abroad. A recipient of Ustad Allauddin Khan award, Sandeep’s vision is to popularise dilruba and train music enthusiasts all over the world.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Congratulations for the honour by All India Radio. How do you feel?

It is a matter of great pride for any musician. I feel honoured. This makes me eligible to perform on Doordarshan and All India Radio across the country.

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You have performed at international concerts as well. What was the response?

I have performed in around 15 countries apart from different Indian cities and received a lot of love and appreciation from the audience. A lot of people have expressed gratitude for preserving the musical heritage of India.

You have also collaborated with AR Rahman. Tell us about the experience.

I recorded with AR Rahman for a few background scores and songs in some Bollywood movies. One of my recent projects was ‘Dil Bechara’ starring late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. I feel privileged to have been able to play for such a legendary musician. As an artiste known for his prowess in incorporating music from across the globe, I was overwhelmed to see how he valued a forgotten regional instrument like dilruba and also invited me specially to play it.

How did you decide to play dilruba?

I am the first instrumentalist in my family although my father and grandfather are very passionate about music. I was 11, when my father decided I should learn dilruba-a traditional but rare Indian instrument. He was inspired after watching an artiste play it on Doordarshan.

Initially, we faced some difficulty in finding a good guru in Jalandhar—very few musicians were playing dilruba at the time. My first teacher was Ustad Shaminder Pal Singh in Jalandhar, followed by Pandit Manu Seen, who trained me till 2018. At present, I am being trained by Ustad Dilshad Khan from Mumbai.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

Poetic गुफ्तगू – With हुमेरा खान @poetsofDelhi