Bringing The Ghosts Alive

King of Ghosts Film with Live Orchestra takes over Town Hall stage on 10th April at 7:30PM. Ahead of the evening Birmingham Post reporter and reviewer Diane Parkes speaks to Soumik Datta who along with the London Sinfionetta will provide the fantastic original soundtrack. 

Soumik Datta was 12 years old when he came across a wooden musical instrument which belonged to his grandmother. This was his introduction to the sarod, a 19-stringed fretless lute from Northern India.

Now aged 35, Soumik is an internationally renowned musician and composer who has played the sarod with artists as diverse as pop stars Beyoncé and Jay-Z, tabla player Talvin Singh, choreographer Akram Khan and composer Nitin Sawhney.

Soumik had recently moved with his family from Mumbai in India to the UK when he discovered the sarod so learning to play it became the bridge between those two worlds. And he has continued to bring together music from diverse backgrounds ever since.

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"The sarod became a way for me to hold onto a sound or a feeling that was India while I was growing up and going to school in London, I think it helped me understand my identity more." he recalls, "I did find it very hard when I first came to England as everything was different. I had my group of friends in India and at that age I left and came here and I didn’t have the cultural references that the kids here had. Just simple things, like I didn’t know what Teletubbies was – or Coronation Street!

Pop culture was different. In Mumbai it was all about Bollywood and Indian pop culture and here it was the birth of the Spice Girls! But those references have helped me bridge my understanding of which parts of me are Indian and which parts are British.

Soumik Datta

This fascination with identity and the idea of an Indian and a British past inspired both of the works which are presented on Soumik’s new tour King of Ghosts which also combines film with his live music.

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The evening sees Oscar winning-director Satyajit Ray’s classic film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne being projected onto a giant screen with a new live score, King of Ghosts, composed by Soumik. The live music brings together the talents of Soumik, Irish bodhrán player and percussionist Cormac Byrne and the City of London Sinfonia.

The evening also features Around India with a Movie Camera which presents some of the earliest surviving film footage from India, again with music composed by Soumik and performed with Cormac and pianist Al MacSween.

​What connect both halves is that there are live musicians on stage and there is this huge screen playing films that many people in the audience probably won’t have seen before but they are incredibly special.

Soumik Datta

The tour is the culmination of five years of work across the two pieces.

Audience members don’t need to know the music or, indeed, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne to enjoy the performances.

This is a show which will be appreciated by anyone who loves music. This is a show which people will never have seen before. It’s a show that bridges music, film, India, Britain, the past, the present - and it’s something that entertains as well as challenges you at the same time.

Soumik Datta