Indian Ocean (band)

Indian Ocean is an Indian rock band formed in New Delhi in 1990, who are widely recognized as the pioneers of the fusion rock genre in India. Susmit Sen, Asheem Chakravarty, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam were band members till Chakravarty's demise on 25 December 2009, after which Tuheen Chakravorty and Himanshu Joshi were officially inducted into the band as replacements. After the departure of Susmit Sen in 2013, Rahul Ram is the only founding member who appeared on the band's debut album Indian Ocean. Sanjeev Sharma has collaborated with them as lyricist on many Albums.[1]

Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean at the Indo German Urban Mela
Indian Ocean at the Indo German Urban Mela
Background information
OriginDelhi, India
Years active1990–present
LabelsIndian Ocean, left to right: Tuheen Chakravarty, Himanshu Joshi, Sushmit Sen, Rahul Ram, Amit Kilam
MembersNikhil Rao
Amit Kilam
Rahul Ram
Himanshu Joshi
Tuheen Chakraborty
Past membersSusmit Sen
Asheem Chakravarty
Indrajit Dutta
Shaleen Sharma
Anirban Roy
R C Joshi
Sawan Dutta

The musical style of the band can be at best classified as folk and fusion music. It is an experimental genre, fusing raga (traditional Indian tunes) with rock music, guitars and drums, sometimes using Indian folk songs.[2] It has also been described by some music critics as "Indo-rock fusion with jazz-spiced rhythms that integrates shlokas, sufism, environmentalism, mythology and revolution".

Since 2010, the band has moved against the lines of record labels. They released their latest album 16/330 Khajoor Road online for free. The main reason for this move was the frustration over negotiating contracts with record companies and fighting over copyright issues.[3] They have turned to concerts and sponsorships for generating revenue rather than playing in the hands of record labels. For a brief amount of time they had the sponsorship of Johnnie Walker. They are also a part of the world's first Music Personalisation Initiative named DRP as one of the five Featured Artists. In its 2014 listing of "25 Greatest Indian Rock Songs of the last 25 Years", "Rolling Stone India" featured two songs, Ma Rewa and Kandisa from the album, Kandisa (2000).[4]


1984–1990: Early yearsEdit

1980s: FormationEdit

In the early 1980s, Asheem Chakravarty played tabla for a Bengali band Niharika. In 1984, Susmit Sen, a fan of Niharika, met him during a concert. Chakravarty was impressed by Sen's guitar-playing and his vision to evolve a new sound, while Sen, learned the nuances of rhythm from Chakravarty.

For the next 3 years, with Sen as the guitarist and Chakravarty on tabla and drums, they experimented with their music without writing original lyrics. Apart from a concert at Roorkee University, there were not many notable performances by them.[citation needed]

1990: Demo tapeEdit

The name Indian Ocean was suggested by Sen's father in 1990. Shaleen Sharma was taken on as the drummer, and Indrajit Dutta and Anirban Roy as bassists. The band recorded a demo, with the help of Sen selling his electric guitar to raise the required money. The tape was 45 minutes long and consisted of 7 songs, all recorded in a single day. Despite the rushed recording, the quality of the demo tape impressed HMV and they were offered an album deal.[citation needed]

1991–2009: Asheem Chakravarty eraEdit

Rahul Ram and first albumEdit

In 1991, Rahul Ram who was Sen's schoolmate at St. Xaviers, Delhi, joined the band replacing Anirban Roy on bass. They started work on their first album. To their frustration, the album took about a year to get finished. But when their eponymous debut album came out in 1993, it sold over 40,000 copies within a year of its release. It became the highest selling record by any Indian band at that time.

Amit KilamEdit

In 1994, drummer Shaleen Sharma left the band. He was replaced by Amit Kilam who was much younger than the other band members. Barely out of his teens, he was still taking his college exams. This line-up with Susmit Sen, Asheem Chakravarty, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam became the most recognisable and the most successful in the band's timeline so far. Since then they rolled out a live album recorded and mixed on two tracks by Vikram Mishra Desert Rain and two studio albums Kandisa and Jhini. They also composed the soundtrack of Black Friday and contributed a couple of tracks to the soundtrack of Peepli Live.

Death of Asheem ChakravartyEdit

In December 2009 the band lost Asheem Chakravarty. He was hospitalised in Doha in October, after suffering a heart attack. He was comatose for a brief period and recovered well.[5] On 25 December 2009 he died in New Delhi due to a cardiac arrest.[6]

Post-Asheem eraEdit

16/330 Khajoor RoadEdit

Indian Ocean performing in Pune.

Indian Ocean has so far not announced any permanent replacement for Chakravarty. However, they have brought Himanshu Joshi to fill in for Chakravarty's vocals and Tuheen Chakravarty for tabla and other percussion which Asheem Chakravarty used to play.

The band announced release of their first studio album after the death of Asheem Chakravarty, 16/330 Khajoor Road. The band made the whole album available for download from their site by adding one new song each month.

The album 16/330 Khajoor Road was released in a two-CD pack. The album was recorded at Kshitij Studios, New Delhi and mixed by Aakash Gupta and Amit Kilam.

Later in 2015, the band was highly acclaimed by the critics and audience alike for their music in the film Masaan.[citation needed]

Band membersEdit

Asheem Chakravarty (tabla, percussions and vocals)Edit


Asheem (1957–2009) showed his rhythmic ability at an early age, surprising musicians who learned that he never had any formal training. He quit a career in advertising, along with Susmit Sen to form Indian Ocean, where he played the tabla, tarang and other percussion instruments while also being band's vocalist. Indian Ocean fans call him "the man with the golden voice". He sang and played the tabla simultaneously, a difficult feat rare by Indian percussionists. His rhythm structures were unique and contributed a large part to Indian Ocean's signature sound. He improvised vocal lines while on stage and was innovative with traditional Indian percussion instruments. He was brought up in an atmosphere of Indian classical, folk and other Indian forms of music.

Chakravarty was hospitalised in Doha after suffering a heart attack in October and was in a state of coma for a brief period, but was recovering well.[5] He died after suffering a cardiac arrest in New Delhi in the afternoon on 25 December 2009. He is survived by wife Sunita Chakravarty and son, Ekansh Chakravarty.[6][7]

Amit Kilam (drums, percussions and vocals)Edit

Amit Kilam

Amit's drumming is a balance between the conventional and non-conventional. Largely self-taught, he believes in layering rhythm rather than a heavy drum layer, since he believes in simplicity, not technical wizardry, thus becoming the backbone of the solid sound that the band has. He incorporates Indian rhythms into his drumming in a unique fashion, moving in cycles of 8, 10, 12 14, 16, rather than simple 4/4 or ¾ styles. Not a "psychotic drummer", he goes easy on the skins, yet his playing is very dynamic. He was introduced to music at the age of 4 by his parents, learning the guitar (Hawaiian – Indian classical). He plays several instruments and sings also. He loves listening to various kinds of music – Hindi filmi, rock, pop – his favourites are A. R. Rahman, Trilok Gurtu and Deep Purple.

Rahul Ram (bass guitar and vocals)Edit

Rahul Ram, Bass Guitar and vocals

Ram's bass playing moves smoothly – from melodic enmeshing with vocal and guitar lines to the more standard laying of foundations over which the band soars. His stage presence is an essential part of Indian Ocean's live concerts. His vocals have a power and edge that emphasises the folk roots of the band. Rahul also does most of the talking at live shows. His experiences as an activist/supporter with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (1990–1995) and during his four years studying in the US have exposed him to a variety of musical styles from all over India and the world, and have strongly influenced his musical expression. Rahul got an M.Sc. in Chemistry from IIT Kanpur and has PhD in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University in New York (1986–90). He's also a member of comedy group, Aisi Taisi Democracy.

Ram and Chakravarty have also sung "Yaara Maula" in Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal, a Hindi movie based on politics.[citation needed]

Tuheen ChakravortyEdit

After Asheem, couple of percussionists jammed with the band. But The new line up became permanent when Tuheen joined the band in 2010.[8]

Nikhil RaoEdit

From a college boy who travelled 40 km each side to watch the band play live, just a day before his exam, to a full-time band member his journey has been full of unexpected turns. Nikhil, an engineer by qualification, had not thought of music as a career option. He met the band in Singapore while he was studying. In 2013, he was offered to be a part of the same after Susmit Sen’s departure.[9]

Nikhil Rao replaced Susmit Sen as lead guitarist in 2013.[10]

Former membersEdit

Susmit Sen (guitar)Edit


Susmit who co-founded the group, is credited to have virtually invented a new style of playing the guitar, an Indian sound where "purity of scale reigns, strong melodic lines woven around the drone of open strings". His guitar style formed the basis of Indian Ocean's sound. According to him, his personal vision is towards finding a new vocabulary for his music. Susmit Sen released his solo debut album Depths of the Ocean in 2011 – an album which had been in the making for the last ten years.[11] Sen left the band in 2013 and was replaced by Nikhil Rao.[10]

Studio albumsEdit



  1. ^ Reddy, Sujata (22 January 2016). "The secret of Indian Ocean's success: only music, no massive egos". The Economic Times. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  2. ^ Ahuja, Shilpa. "Indian Ocean & Arka Fusion Music, Rock n Raag Live Concert". Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Indian Ocean Pokes at Record Companies, Gives away Latest Album for Free [Kill Piracy]". Archived from the original on 30 June 2011.
  4. ^ "The Search for Rolling Stone India's 25 Greatest Indian Rock Songs of the last 25 Years". Rolling Stone India. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b Indian Ocean's Asheem Chakravarty hospitalised
  6. ^ a b "Indian Ocean frontman dies of cardiac arrest at 53". The Times of India. 26 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Indian Ocean, fusion music, loses sound of percussion". The Indian Express. 26 December 2009.
  8. ^ "Deep Waters: The Return of Indian Ocean". Forbes India. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Where Is Indian Ocean Headed? -". 18 July 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Indian Ocean co-founder Susmit Sen quits band". NDTV. 12 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Susmit Sen: Depths Of The Ocean". Top Five Records. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Indian Ocean at IMDb
  14. ^ indian ocean [@indianoceanband] (5 July 2010). "In case you didn't know already, we have sung and composed songs for Peepli Live" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "'Katiyabaaz': A documentary maker challenges mainstream space". The Times of India. 23 August 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014.