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A real life story?

According to industry sources, Bhairavi is said to be inspired by the life of Pandit Ravi Shankar and his first wife Annapoorna Devi, a great classical musician in her own right. Malvika Nanda tells more.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2008 18:51 IST
Malvika Nanda

The life of one of the country’s greatest Indian classical music legends will hit the screens in a movie called Bhairavi.

The film tells the story of a young and immensely talented sitar player called Bhairavi and how her sitar player husband cuts her promising career short. Directed by Suresh Dattani and produced by Atul Pandey of Summer 2007 fame, the movie will soon debut on the international film festival circuit.

According to industry sources, Bhairavi is said to be inspired by the life of Pandit Ravi Shankar and his first wife Annapoorna Devi, a great classical musician in her own right.

However producer Atul Pandey refused to name names. “All I can say is that the movie shows the dark side of an internationally acclaimed Indian classical music legend.”

The story follows Delhi-based musician Shubhankar, who goes to a small town to learn sitar from a famous maverick Muslim musician, the founder of the illustrious gharana. While there, he falls in love with his guru’s daughter Bhairavi.

Love gone bad
“Bhairavi also falls for Shubhankar, but she is the better musician of the two (a la Abhimaan). Once they are married
Shubhankar starts to play mind games with her to make her lose her faith in music so he can move ahead. Things go terribly wrong and a heartbroken Bhairavi shuts herself away from the world forever,” says Pandey.

When the plot was narrated to Indian classical stalwart, flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, he said: “Yeh kahani to hamari guru ma aur Ravi Shankarji ki hi ho sakti hai (this has to be the story of my teacher and Ravi Shankarji).”

Chaurasia, who knows the couple from the time he learnt from Annapoorna Devi — Pandit Ravi Shankar’s first wife and Ustad Allaudin Khan’s daughter — says it is wrong to make a movie on someone’s personal life, especially if it shows more negatives than positives.

He feels it will set a bad precedent. “Mahapurushon ko mahapurushon ki tarah hi dikhana chahiye (legends should be portrayed as legends). Even if they don’t say whom the movie is about, people will understand, as there have been biographies and books on them.”

Talking about the real-life couple he says, “I don’t know who is right or wrong — both are great musicians. Yes Annapoornaji has gone into a shell, but her dedication towards music is unchanged. The events in her life have totally shattered her, especially her son’s death.”

Pandey says they have given a graceful exit to the male protagonist. “Despite all his negatives, he is still a musician par excellence. A legend, after all, is a legend.”