Pulling the Right Strings
Cosmopolitan India|December 2020
Sitar player Neha Mahajan is living the dream as an artist. She recently got to collaborate with Ricky Martin on his latest album, Pausa—which has now bagged a Grammy nomination. In an exclusive interview with Cosmo, the 30-year-old opens up about the experience, the maestros who inspire her, and the songs she loves to sing in the shower...
Humra Afroz Khan

Cosmo: What was your reaction when you heard from Ricky Martin’s team?

Neha Mahajan: “When I received a call from Mireille, Ricky’s associate, I didn’t believe it at first... I thought it was a prank call. I was so skeptical, I even ended up asking her, ‘Why do you want me to play for this song?’ She said, ‘Erm, because it’s beautiful music’. I jumped for joy once I found out she was being serious!”

C: What was it like, working on Pausa?

NM: “I learnt and grew so much because of this experience. My Sitar-raga music is a purely wordless communication, and to pair it with a song with lyrics—with a soulful voice like Ricky’s—certainly expanded my imagination. And Pausa speaks largely about the need to love unconditionally, which is immensely relevant for me.

As for Ricky, he is a very sensitive person, and believes in the things he contributes to the world. I learnt about being humble from him...and also about believing in your art. Working with him inspired me to practise more and be in better shape, musically.”

C: When it comes to music, who is your biggest inspiration?

NM: “Baba Allaudin Khan. He is the founder of Maihar Gharana and an incredibly versatile musician. He embraced world music and produced a unique Indian identity through his understanding and talent. I am an ardent fan of his commitment to music.”

C: You are also an actor... what are you binge-watching right now?

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