Musician Prem Joshua: The original seventies spiritual seeker

Musician Prem Joshua: The original seventies spiritual seeker

An introduction to the smiling, sitar playing German world music guru who is plucking strings live in Mumbai
Prem Joshua
Prem Joshua is the one holding his sitar, bottom right of the picture, with his band.

Musician Prem Joshua caught the wave of the original seventies hippies to India when he was 18 years old.

He had his first Indian classical music experience listening to a crackly vinyl record of a Pandit Ravi Shankar sitar performance. His India journey also included time with enlightened mystic Osho, "this man with a long white beard, eyes as deep as the ocean and a crazy sense of humor," and he trained in Indian classical music with sitar expert Ustad Usman Khan.

That's why when most efforts at Buddha Bar-esque Indian fusion music make us cringe, when arbitrary CD compilations with titles like Nirvana Lounge offer slapstick servings of sitar, tabla and flute to keep time to trendy yoga classes around the world, Prem Joshua's compositions feel like the real deal.

His 14 albums, all rooted in Indian classical but filtered through various jazz, funk and electronic elements, are very easy to listen to and to like.

Joshua tours India frequently with band mates from India, Iran, Morocco, USA, Singapore, Germany and Japan, but is not as well-known abroad.

He explains, "Indians have a strong and intuitive feeling for their own music. If a non-Indian plays their music well and catches its very soul and at the same time interprets it in a new and cosmopolitan way -- then modern Indians experience their own culture from a more global viewpoint. I believe this is the reason for our enormous success in India and this recognition by the people of India touches me deeply.

"Hardly any other country on this planet is going through such dramatic changes as India. The country is experiencing an enormous economic boom and the social structures are changing like never before. Our music reflects these changes while still remaining connected to India’s ancient yet timeless roots. But we do have an ever-growing and passionate fan-base in Europe and the USA also -- mainly in the world music, yoga and free-dance scenes."

Prem Joshua is playing on Saturday, November 21, 7:30pm, at the Bandra Fort Amphitheater as part of the on-going Celebrate Bandra Festival.