BANGALORE : Jimi Hendrix, when talking about how he was emulated by many musicians, famously said, “I've been imitated so well, I've heard people copy my mistakes.” But Susmit Sen, instead of walking in the footsteps of the likes of Hendrix, read the writing on the wall. If there’s one thing that a lifetime in music has taught Sen, the frontrunner of the iconic band Indian Ocean, it is how ‘originality’ is not only a test of your integrity but also a yardstick to measure your musical genius. And this instinct was what got the band through. In his memoir, Ocean to Ocean (HarperCollins) Sen writes, “If I am asked to name only one thing that guided the music of Indian Ocean, I will say originality.”
When Indian Ocean, one of the most creative bands in India, started to lose this very quality, he felt the first tinges of creative dissatisfaction. He rues, "On the one hand, success encourages you to create new fare, but as you go along, it sometimes terrifies you into staying with the tried and tested.” Finally, on the day the band performed ‘Old Macdonald had a farm,’ Sen took a decision to part ways with the band.
As you read Sen’s account of his life with Indian Ocean, you gradually begin to notice a few loose ends. Maybe a take from the other band members would have helped clarify a few things. But this is Sen’s memoir after all, and the beauty of it lies in the honest manner he recounts it. The narrative is dotted with anecdotes from Sen’s life, weaving in and out of his personal life and musical journey.
You learn about his first brush with Hindustani classical music because of a girl he had a crush on.In another chapter, he talks about how Indian Ocean first took shape in 1990—a bunch of guys doing what they loved the most—making great music.The hardbound book, co-authored by Sehba Imam, also comes with a copy of his debut album, Susmit Sen Chronicles which will remind one of Indian Ocean. This book offers a captivating look at how Sen had to “swim out of the ocean, only to re enter it once again—this time not for its vastness, but for its depth.”