#IndiaAtCannes | Ricky Kej: I’m not considered to be part of mainstream music, yet government chose me for Cannes 2022


Grammy Award-winning music composer Ricky Kej curated a multilingual concert for his musical outing at the Cannes Film festival, and his presence at the fest as part of the Indian delegation says a lot about the changing definition of what is considered to be “mainstream”.

“The performance came packed with a spectacular audio visual experience, with notes about environment and nature. The concert was basically a huge celebration of India,” Kej tells us.

Opening up about the performance, the award-winning musician shares, “It was a mix of Sanskrit, Hindi, Rajasthani dialect, with a little bit of Punjabi, English and Oriya. It was a multilingual thing, representing diverse facets of India”.

And he hopes people went back entertained, as he puts, “Hope it made people outside of India curious about the country, and Indians went back with a lot of pride”.

Apart from his musical outing, Kej also walked the at the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, as part of the Indian delegation alongside Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, and celebrities such as Nawazuddin Siddiqui, AR Rahman, and R Madhavan. He feels his presence at the fest shuns away a lot of misconceptions.

“There is a huge misnomer, especially among musicians in India, that if you want to get to a global platform, like the Grammys or the Cannes, you have to go for Western form of music, or English music. That is absolutely the wrong direction, because the West appreciates us for who we are. And I am a living example of that,” say the 40-year-old.

He continues, “I have never been a part of Bollywood. I am very grateful to the government for picking me in spite of that. I’m not considered to be part of the mainstream music in India, and yet the government chose me. I am grateful to the government that they’ve recognized”.

In fact, this step is a reflection of a changing attitude, which is a welcome change.

“It is a testimony to the government that they are going by ability, and the musicianship of a person, irrespective of whether they are mainstream or not. It shows that the government is moving in the right direction,” he concludes.


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