'One of the lovely things about Susmit's guitar style is that he does not play in any other style. When I was a young professional I still had thoughts of being the next Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. It took me quite a while to realize that even if you could reach that standard you would still be an imitator. I then started again in my head to be me developing my own sound and phrasing. Susmit as far as I have seen and heard has always been his own master. His style is original and always fresh he plays from the heart he expresses his feelings through his hands and his music and I will always be a fan of musicians like that.' - Bernie Marsden
Susmit Sen is a pioneer. When he founded Indian Ocean in 1990 there was no pan-Indian band writing original music. Over the next few years Indian Ocean's musical sensibility was led by Sen's compositions and a unique guitar playing inspired by Indian classical and folk. In 1993 came the eponymous first album: once again the first such nationally released album by an Indian band. What followed was a sensation. Indian Ocean toured more than twenty countries produced six albums over the next two decades and played a kind of music never heard before: an Indian expression using mostly Western instruments anchored by Susmit's self-taught guitar. By the time he came out with his first solo album in collaboration with some of the most renowned musicians in India (Depths of the Ocean 2011) and then parted ways with Indian Ocean Susmit had inspired a generation.
Ocean to Ocean tells this story in the maestro's own words. It is as candid an account as they come: his almost pathological need to lie as a schoolboy; how he forged his mother's signature on a poor report card; his tryst with and love for nature and wildlife; an attempt at starting a business selling colour TV sets; his encounter with a Japanese Yakuza who made an offer he had to refuse; his musical philosophy; the depth of his bond with his partner in music Aseem; what it meant to give up on the security of a job and make a living of his music alone; and ultimately why he severed ties with Indian Ocean.
Warm intimate and honest Ocean to Ocean documents the life and times of a rare musician and composer a man who dared to flow against the tide and came up trumps.
Sehba Imam did her master's in mass communication from the MCRC Jamia Millia Islamia. She is a media professional with a number of programmes to her credit including Great Indian Tamasha Gustakhi Maaf and Galli Galli Sim Sim. She lives in Gurgaon.