Remembering Pt Ravi Shankar

Family tribute

Remembering  Pt Ravi Shankar

A week after late Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar received the first Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony, his family, disciples and eminent musicians paid a glowing tribute to him at a programme in the national Capital.

In a rare family appearance, the master’s wife Sukanya Shankar, daughter Anoushka Shankar with husband British film director Joe Wright and son Zubin, and daughter with Sue Jones – Norah Jones were all present at the event. They spoke about the doyen, their relationship with him and his mesmerising music.

Pt. Ravi Shankar passed away on December 11, 2012. This was the first memorial service organised organised by his family since. His talented daughter Anoushka Shankar summed up her feelings about her father thus: “To know him was to love him... And to know his music was to love him also. I know I will continue to learn from him throughout my life.”

However, the most touching words about the maestro were delivered by his son-in-law Jow Wright. He expressed, “When he was having the surgery (last year), we thought we were all saying goodbye, it was a big farewell. But when he was out of surgery, five or six hours later, he was actually apologising for having caused all that bother! And all the time, all through it, his fingers were always playing, there was always a raag in his head.”

“Baba was human. It was easy to think of him as some great guru or god, but what was important about him for me was his humanity, and so he allows us to aspire to that level of humanity. And to be human, truly human, is the greatest aspiration there is.” Joe also told the audience of an old blind bass player in Congo who he informed of Ravi Shankar’s death recently. The man, a fan of Ravi Shankar, was reduced to tears.

A graphic novel on his life, written at his wife Sukanya’s special request, was also released at the programme. An emotional Sukanya recalled fondly that Ravi Shankar would thank people all through the day, every day, and hence thanked all those who have supported the family in their time of loss.

It was also a last opportunity for the maestro’s collaborators and friends to share their experiences with him in public. Percussionist Tanmoy Bose, who performed the world over with him, said, “Not a single day on a tour would go by without him coming up with a new
tihai.”

A documentary on Shankar's life, ‘Sangeetratna’, made by cinematographer Alan Kozlowski, showed Shankar's many glorious tours across the globe. Legendary musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt performed in the memorial service. Students of the Ravi Shankar music academy also paid their tributes to him.

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