It is indeed surreal for me to believe Pandit Ravi Shankar, whom I called Dada, is no more. His passing away marks the end of an era that was truly magical. What he did for music was outstandingly unique in its nomenclature.
My father, Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan, and Raviji’s guru, Ustad
Allaudin Khan, learnt from the same guru, Ustad Wazir Khan, of the Senia Beenkar Gharana. In fact, Raviji once wrote me a message saying let’s keep the Senia Beenkar flag flying high.
The way he played the sitar had freshness and a different tonal quality. His determination and hard work brought him the status of an international superstar. He is one of the most fortunate and successful Indian classical musicians. I would call him a ‘miracle man’ who changed the face of classical music in the world.
I attended many of Raviji’s concerts with great tabla players like Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Allah Rakha, Chatur Lal and Kanai Dutt.
I always admired his approach to raga and taal. There was always so much to learn from the way he presented his music. A few times, he attended my concerts in Kolkata, Birmingham (UK), New York and New Delhi. It was always a great honour to have Dada attend my concerts. Our families have been very close and our meetings were always full of laughter and musical discussion.
The first time Raviji came to our house was in 1977; Amaan was three months old. We attended the reception for his marriage to Sukanyaji in Delhi in 1990.
Sukanyaji had been an admirer of my wife Subhalaksmi's Bharatnatyam.
It was because of Sukanyaji, who calls my wife 'Akka' (elder sister), that our families came closer. I honoured Raviji during his 70th birthday celebrations in Delhi in 1990, and his 75th birthday celebrations in Los Angeles, where I also performed.
He attended my younger son Ayaan's wedding reception in 2008 in New Delhi and the last time we met was at my residence in 2010.
I will miss him no end and pray that his glorious soul may rest in peace. He will be remembered timelessly.
Amjad Ali Khan is a sarod maestro