Kuljit Bhamra is one of the most inspiring music producers in the British Indian music scene. He has worked, both independently and collaboratively, on film scores including the soundtrack for the award-winning Bhaji on the Beach, A Winter of Love, Bend it Like Beckham and appearances on The Guru, The Four Feathers, Brick Lane, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, A Little Princess, Wings of a Dove, Jadoo and CH4’s recent drama Indian Summers.
Kuljit worked on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Bombay Dreams as an on-stage percussionist, and then went on to write the Indian music for the West End musical The Far Pavilions. Other theatre productions include Deranged Marriage, Lion of Punjab, Hansel & Gretel, The Snow Queen, The Ramayana, Laila Majnun, King Cotton, Bombay Gold, Mapping the Edge, his own production Chutney in The Street! and the west end hit musical Bend it like Beckham. He also scored the music for the stage adaption of E M Forster’s famous novel A Passage to India in which he composed new music for Tabla, percussion and cello.
Kuljit was the last Artistic Director of The Society For The Promotion of New Music (spnm) – the first British Asian to hold this post in its 65-year history. During office there, Kuljit spearheaded innovative projects such as Bhangra Latina, Folk from Here and Raga Mela with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He also started work on developing a universal tabla notation system to allows students from differing backgrounds to learn the instrument and be able to write for it. His Read and Play Tabla books were later published in 2017 and were immediately adopted by music teachers in Portsmouth and Birmingham.
In partnership with Exeter University and The Southbank Centre, Kuljit has created a touring exhibition called The Southall Story and a digital archive of the cultural history of Southall.
Born in Kenya, Kuljit contracted polio at the age of one. This affected his left leg and he walks with a cane for support. A resident of Southall since 1969, Kuljit tours extensively and collaborating with Jazz, Pop, Folk, Dance, Flamenco and Orchestral artists from all around the world. His unique kit includes snare drum, cymbals, hand percussion and a six-piece tabla set which enables him to play melody as well as rhythm.
Kuljit is the recipient of many awards including a platinum disc for outstanding record sales presented by the much-loved BBC Radio DJ, John Peel who was a big fan of his music. His cutting-edge projects and educational work earned him the prestigious award of MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2009. The citation reads ‘For Services To Bhangra & British Asian Music’ and is the first time that these genres have been acknowledged in this way.
In his mission to make Indian music and instrument-playing accessible to everyone, Kuljit has created a series of tutorial videos and educational tools to help Demystify Indian Music.