Raga: A Film Journey into the Soul of India, about the life and music of sitarist Ravi Shankar, with an accompanying soundtrack album produced by George Harrison
The man whom George Harrison called "the Godfather of World Music" and about whom Yehudi Menuhin said that "his genius and his humanity can only be compared to that of Mozart's," is dead.
Shankar Family Statement:
It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul, passed away today, December 11th, 2012.
As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away.
We know that you all feel our loss with us, and we thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes through this difficult time. Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives. His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his music.
Sukanya & Anoushka Shankar
We carry a short excerpt from his autobiograhy Raga Mala here: A Bengali Brahmin From Benares
Also See Outlook archives: Pandit Ravi Shankar, particularly:
- Maestro's Choice: Shubha Mudgal reviewed Raga Mala, when it came out in 1999
- Pandit V/s Pandit: Manu Joseph on How Pandit Jasraj reacted when Ravi Shankar was given the Bharat Ratna
- Guru, Father, Friend: Madhu Trehan on Anoushka Shankar's book on her father, Ravi Shankar: Bapi...The Love of My Life
While connoisseurs are familiar with his classical music, we'll keep adding playlists and youtube videos featuring the sitar maestro's more popular music through the day, starting with Doordarshan's signature tune, something that almost all TV-watching Indians of a certain generation would know, a variation of Iqbal‘s Saare jahaan se achcha, composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar with Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan:
Sitar lesson for George Harrison:
As he wrote in his autobiography: "My few experiences at the rock festivals continued until Woodstock, in August 1969... I wish I hadn't performed there, but because of my commitment, I had to. The thought of my instrument getting wet and spoilt was worrying me so much that it was not a very inspired performance, although I did my best. When I looked out there was no way of communicating to the crowd — it was such a vast audience. I learnt that apart from the abundance of drugs, there was violence, theft, robbery and raping at Woodstock. It was not what people try to glorify it as today." The only footage shot of Pt Ravi Shankar's final pop concert performance ever, at Woodstock:
George Harrison organised the Concert for Bangladesh at the Madison Square Garden in 1971. The Indian music section had Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Alla Rakha. The audience greeted Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan's plucking at the sitar and sarod on stage while tuning the instruments with rapturous applause. Ravi Shankar responded with 'If you like our tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing more.'
The music direction for films began with Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy:
He also gave music for the 1960 Hindi film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee which arguably has Lata Mangeshkar's finest songs: Anuradha
And then in 1979, he gave music for, Gulzar's Meera, sung by Vani Jairam:
A mixed playlist:
Ravi Shanar talking about how he prepared for a concert: