Niladri Kumar, one of the hottest young sitar players in the world, admits he has always been a maverick.
He grew up in a family steeped in Indian classical music -- he is noted sitar player Pandit Kartick Kumar's son -- started performing at the age of 6, and since then has won awards and accolades as diverse as the Sangeet Natak Akademi's Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar and MTV Immies (best classical/fusion instrumental album for If).
Chances are, you have heard Niladri too. He features on recent Bollywood songs like Chup Chup Ke from Bunty Aur Babli.
And that guitar solo in Bheeegi Bheegi from Gangster is actually Niladri letting it rip on the zitar, a five-string, electric version of the sitar he has crafted and made his signature sound. His zitar can also be heard on songs like Alvida from Life In A Metro and Crazy Kiya Re from Dhoom: 2.
"The attempt to relate to the preferences of this generation literally changed my outlook towards music," says Niladri, who features in jazz-guitar legend John McLaughlin's new album Floating Point, and who has toured and played with giants of world music like tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain and jazz-rock bass virtuoso Jonas Hellborg.
Now, Niladri is hitting airwaves with his new solo album, called Priority. He calls the album "an attempt to obliterate the boundaries between East and West."
Here's the music video of the title track, which you will see on television soon too. Watch it to find out why Niladri's music has wowed audiences and critics worldwide.