Sitarist-actor Neha Mahajan recently got a big surprise, when the album she collaborated on with singer-songwriter Ricky Martin was nominated for the Grammys! She tells us it all started when she got a call from his manager.

“I have been playing with my father, who’s a musician, for 13 years now. I would play a few things, and then put it on Instagram. I got a phone call one day from Martin’s manager. She said ‘we heard your music, would you like to be a part of this/’ I thought it’s a total prank, because I have not really done a solo concert or cut an album!,” she reveals.

The next thing she knew, she had to send a recording of her playing the sitar, and that made the cut.

On how it was working with Martin on this one, she gushes, “He’s an incredible, beautiful human being. I have learnt so much, what it takes to really pass through pain and joy of making music, and his experience. We recorded just when the news about pandemic was starting to spread. It had not started, but the shadow was approaching. The time we were recording, Ricky was supposed to start touring and come to India in summer. It didn’t happen, we didn’t take the pandemic into consideration.” 

The album, Pausa has been nominated in the Best Latin Pop category, and Mahajan played the sitar for the song Mi Sangre. She says that the album also features talents such as Sting and Enrique Iglesias.

Apart from music, Mahajan has also acted in Marathi films, and Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children, where she played the role of a young Shabana Azmi, and Extraction, starring Chris Hemsworth. “I have been acting for six years now, and I truly love it. I have primarily focused my career in acting. I think I have a lot to learn in music. There’s a long way to go for me to say I am a musician. I am right now learning from my two gurus, and my father. They would agree that I am not ready to do a two hour long concert,” she laughs.

She goes on to tell us that Martin and she connected on a call after the nominations were announced. “He was so encouraging, loves the sitar and India. We spoke after the nominations, and said how we can’t meet each other again, hopefully some day soon we will do a video together. I also got a voice note the following morning from him. I woke up to it, and said ‘more of Ricky Martin voice messages please!’,” she says.

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