Kartick Kumar, sitar player, Santacruz
One of his seniormost students, sitar artiste Kartick Kumar was the one Ravi Shankar brought from Kolkata to Mumbai when he moved to the city in 1960.
Kumar, then 26, had already established himself as a young sitarist by winning a Rashtrapati Puraskar in 1958.
In Mumbai, he grew further under Shankar’s wing, living with him for two years in the maestro’s Malabar Hill home.
“As a guru, Panditji was the king of kindness,” says Kumar, 76, who has performed with Shankar at numerous concerts around the world in their 55-year association.
“He would give me constant training and even during meal times, when other musicians prefer not to be disturbed, he would ask me to practice the sitar before him.”
Ravi Shankar with his disciple Kartick Kumar, after a concert at Sion’s Shanmukhananda auditorium in the 1980s. Photo Courtesy: Kartick Kumar
During the 1960s, Shankar also founded and ran the Kinnara Music School at Warden Road, where Kumar assisted his guru in conducting advanced-level classes.
“I was always a part of his creative projects, playing for his film compositions, concerts and orchestral recordings,” says Kumar, who now lives in Santacruz (West).
An established concert performer, Kumar was also a music professor at Sion’s Shanmukhananda Fine Arts Sangeet Sabha for 30 years since 1974. While he has reduced his international tours today, he continues to train his disciples at home.
Kumar now cherishes memories of his last phone conversation with Shankar 15 days ago. “He told me that since I am an organised person, I would not face any problems in life. And he said his blessings would always be with me.”