It seems that sitar-player and daughter of Pt Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar is always full of surprises. In her previous work in 2007, Breathing Underwater, she collaborated with the New York-based multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale. The album featured guest artistes like sister Norah Jones as well as other Grammy-winning artistes like Sting and Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
Her latest work under the Anoushka Shankar Project banner, Traveller, takes her to Spain and explores its popular art form, flamenco. “Apart from placing me as a traveller taking my Indian classical tradition to Spain, it also looks back to the travelling people of the past — the Rajasthani gypsies who went overland to Spain through the Middle East and Central Asia,” says 30-year-old Anoushka, who also became a mother last year.
The album, which has been produced by Grammy award-winning Spanish record producer Javier Limón, also features guitar maestros Pepe Habichuela and Paco de Lucía and Indian artistes like Tanmoy Bose and Shubha Mudgal. According to Shankar, working on a crossover album like this one required significant experimentation. “Sometimes, it was about trying to play flamenco style on the sitar or find flamenco rhythms. At other times, I looked for a completely different way for the two forms of music to communicate with each other,” she says, adding, “I had to find new playing techniques. It required lots of tuning modifications on the sitar to play it in different keys.”
Ask Anoushka how she managed to put the whole thing together while embracing motherhood with her newborn, Zubin (now 10 months old) and she says, “I mastered the record when he was hardly four weeks old! Of course, having a child is the biggest shift and suddenly the most important thing in my life. But I deliberately worked harder during my pregnancy so I could spend more time with my baby later.”
Does she plan on doing music sometime for her filmmaker husband Joe Wright, who directed Atonement (2007) and more recently Hannah (2011)? “When we met, he was working on a movie called Indian Summer, and was interested in having me do the music. But it got indefinitely postponed. I know he’d only want me to play music for something that makes sense. In which case, why not?”
Having performed at over 30 gigs across Europe for the album launch, Anoushka plans to hit the Indian stages with over 10 shows lined up across the country in early 2012. The artiste will play in Mumbai on January 13 at St Andrew’s Auditorium, Bandra and at Siri Fort in New Delhi on January 15.
Anoushka Shankar will play in St Andrew's Auditorium on January 13 at 7 pm. Ticket are from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000. Go to bookmyshow.com for tickets