The very soul of music - The New Indian Express

The very soul of music

Published: 13th December 2012 09:55 AM

Last Updated: 13th December 2012 09:55 AM

I haven’t been able to stop crying ever since someone from San Diego informed me of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s death. I still remember the first time I met him. It was in NewYork, 1974. I was there with my troupe to perform for the late Indrani Rahman, a former Miss India and an Indian classical dancer. Panditji was present at the show and told Indrani, “These dancers from Andhra Pradesh are brilliant.” Music to my ears.

Not many people may know that Ravi Shankar was a dancer himself initially, quiet natural, being the brother of Uday Shankar. He used to be a ballet performer, but later decided to dedicate his life to music, particularly the sitar. It is because of him that Indian music has attained great popularity around the world.

However, a lot of hard work went into it. He once told me that he, Ustad Bismillah Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan would practise non-stop for eight hours every day for around five years under the guidance of his guru, Ustad Allauddin Khan, which is unbelievable!

There was one time when he composed a tarana, to which I choreographed a dance. And I noticed that he had composed the piece with Kuchipudi in mind. That was something so beautiful. Another instance of our collaboration was when my daughter Yamini performed to a fusion performance by George Harrison and the maestro himself.

Panditji always said that he wanted to do a dance drama with us: he would compose the music, I would choreograph the dance and we all would perform together. But unfortunately that will never be. There are so many memories. Right at this moment, I feel sad that I was not able to meet him one last time. But we did go to San Diego earlier this year in February to visit him and I remember that he was not doing well health-wise.

 Now, he’s gone. It’s a very sad time and we have lost the soul of Indian music. A loss to India, an artist like Pandit Ravi Shankar can never be replaced.

(As told to Varsha Bansal) 

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