A 92-year-old on a wheelchair, wearing an oxygen mask… and playing a sitar? Sounds impossible? No. Not for Pandit Ravi Shankar, who played in that state for a select audience in Long Beach, California, alongwith daughter Anoushka on November 4. It was his last concert.
“He performed for the entire one-and-a-half-hour session. He was getting visibly tired, but his mindset was different. ‘The show must go on’ was his mantra,” said percussionist Tanmay Bose, who played the tabla during that show.
Ravi Shankar was suffering from various health problems, including respiratory problem, for quite a few years, which was why the programme, slated for March, had to be postponed.
“There were few as focused and devoted as him,” Bose added.
Oliver Craske, who wrote the obituary uploaded in Ravi Shankar’s official website, said the sitar soloist for Ravi Shankar’s last two programmes -- in 2011 and 2012
-- “was Anoushka rather than Ravi, a sign that though the nonagenarian’s creative reserves were overflowing, his energy levels could not keep up.”
Ravi Shankar’s own statement throws some light into the inhuman stamina. “I feel very strongly that I’m a much better musician than ever before. Maybe I don’t have the stamina and speed of youth, but I have trouble sleeping these days because so much music is going through my head,” Craske quoted Ravi Shankar as saying in 2009.