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Nitin Sawhney, musician, producer, composer

Nitin Sawhney, musician, producer and composer, chooses the eight tracks, book and luxury he would want with him if cast away to a desert island. With Lauren Laverne.

Nitin Sawhney is a composer, musician and producer working in the worlds of music, film, video games, dance and theatre. He has released 10 studio albums, scored over 50 films and television programmes, and is known for his collaborations, with musicians and artists including Paul McCartney, Akram Khan, John Hurt and Andy Serkis.

He was born in 1964 to parents who had emigrated from North India the previous year to work in the UK. His father was a chemical engineer while his mother taught English and later worked at the post office in their home town of Rochester. Nitin showed early musical promise when he took up the piano aged five, later also learning flamenco guitar, sitar and tabla. He was bullied at school at a time when the National Front was gaining traction and music became his sanctuary.

After abandoning a law degree at Liverpool and completing an accountancy course in Hertfordshire, he became financial controller of a hotel, before leaving to become a full time musician. While at college, he met Sanjeev Bhaskar and formed a comedy duo with him which would become the radio and TV series, Goodness Gracious Me.

His breakthrough came with his fourth album, released in 1999, entitled Beyond Skin, which was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Since then, his career has been in the ascendant: he has established himself as one of the most versatile composers for film, scoring pictures like Midnight’s Children and television programmes including the BBC’s Human Planet series. He received the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

BOOK CHOICE: The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch
LUXURY ITEM: Desalinating bottle
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Mustt Mustt (the Massive Attack remix) by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Cathy Drysdale

Available now

40 minutes

Music Played

  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

    Mustt Mustt (Massive Attack remix)

    • Mustt Mustt.
    • 11.
  • Paco de Lucía

    Guajiras de Lucia

    • Integral.
    • Universal Music.
    • 3.
  • Ennio Morricone

    A Fistful of Dollars

    Performer: The Ennio Morricone Orchestra.
    • The Very Best of Ennico Morricone.
    • Virgin.
    • 1.
  • Joni Mitchell

    Big Yellow Taxi

    • Ladies of the Canyon.
    • Reprise.
    • 10.
  • Claude Debussy

    Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: André Previn.
    • Debussy: Images Pour Orchestre: Previn.
    • EMI.
    • 6.
  • Shakti

    Mind Ecology

    • The Best of Shakti.
    • Sony.
    • 3.
  • Oumou Sangaré

    Moussoulou

    • Afriques indépendantes, Vol. 1: Afrique engagée.
    • Compil.
    • 11.
  • Seu Jorge

    Life on Mars

    • The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge.
    • EMI.
    • 2.

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The Desert Island Discs podcast

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