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'Gen-next relates to my music'

Sitarist Anoushka Shankar speaks to Ritujaay Ghosh about her new album, Ravi Shankar and Norah Jones.

music Updated: Jan 23, 2008 15:37 IST
Ritujaay Ghosh

At the age of just 26, she has attained a status that most girls can only dream of. Yet, sitar player Anoushka Shankar does not have too many airs about her.

The simple yet gorgeous and childlike yet mature daughter of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar, who is in India to promote her album Breathing Under Water (Sa Re Ga Ma), spoke to HT City.

Rise was nominated for the Grammy but unfortunately lost out. You have come up with Breathing Under Water after two years. How was it?
Fabulous. It did not happen all of a sudden. There was a lot of planning. I experimented a bit, then thought of collaborating with friends. The dream then became a reality.<b1>

You have collaborated with Karsh Kale...
We appreciate each other’s music very much and are very good friends. That’s why we thought of doing something together.

Your half-sister Norah Jones also features in one of the tracks...
She has done a fabulous job. She is not only my sister but also one of my very good friends and we have a mutual admiration for each other’s work. The idea was to rope in friends and musicians and this album wouldn’t have been complete without their help. There are other artists, too, like Shankar Mahadevan, Midival Punditz and Sunidhi Chauhan.

And there is Sting...
He, too, is a great friend and musician. The whole album was composed on the sitar and acoustic guitar.

Wasn’t that difficult?
Composing on sitar is the easiest job I think. The challenge came after the melodies were composed.

Do you expect it to earn a Grammy nomination?
No, no. I don’t have any expectation. My expectations are with the audience and I hope they will like this album, too.

What was your father’s reaction when he heard the album?
As usual, he is happy and encouraging. It was great satisfaction for me, too, as it wasn’t easy to give shape to the album. We collaborated with so many people and the tracks were recorded in nine cities.

Most of your fans are young. Don’t you feel like making an impact on the older audience?
I am not a typical classical musician so the Gen-next listens to my music a bit more. However, I don’t think my audience is restricted to youngsters.

How different is performing with your father from doing solo shows?
It’s completely different. When I play with my father, I do so as an artist assisting him and do whatever he asks me to. In solo concerts I shape the show on my own.

You father believes you can pick up things fast.
I think it’s a blessing that I have. However, there are other reasons why I can do that, primarily as we have a good understanding of each other and our music.

You play the piano and are a trained dancer but took up sitar...
I have always seen my father playing the sitar. I was introduced to the sitar a very early age and gave my first public performance when I was 13 years old. It’s also about falling in love with the instrument you play.

You have also acted as a dancer in Pamela Rooks’ Dance Like A Man. Do you plan to act again?
That was just an experiment. I haven’t decided yet and left it on time.

What do you listen to beyond classical music?
Everything. I listen to every kind of music that I feel I can relate to. There’s no choice.