BBC releases rare footage of Pandit Ravi Shankar on 100th birth anniversary
Rare footage of Pandit Ravi Shankar has been unveiled to the mark the 100th birth anniversary of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.
The footage released by BBC was shared by the sitarist’s family from their archives. It shows the legendary musician performing at different concerts as well as teaching sitar to The Beatles guitarist George Harrison.
To commemorate his centenary year, a series of ‘Ravi Shankar Centennial Concerts’ was planned featuring his daughters Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar. However, the tour was cancelled indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Talking to BBC, Anoushka called her father one of the greatest musicians ever lived.
“Most people across cultures and generations seem to know the name Shankar. There definitely were decades where he was the household Indian name that was putting India on the map, culturally and artistically.
“He’s my father so I think people might be inclined to take this with a pinch of salt but I really do think that he is one of the greatest musicians that ever lived,” she said.
She said her father had deep knowledge about his music and that is why people from all over the world used to come to him for learning.
“All of those sort of iconic friendships and relationships he had, be it Yehudi, George Harrison, Philip Glass, John Coltrane, people were drawn to this new music they’d never heard before and he was the right kind of person to teach it and share it. “My father was known for being unbelievably, deeply well-versed in the ragas. Like his knowledge of the ragas and their details, their permutations and melody forms was unmatched. And his ability to also balance that with interplay of rhythm was unmatched. He was known for having the most intricate knowledge of cross rhythms and poly rhythms... He could take all of that and do it in this instantly improvised way,” Anoushka said. As a musician, she said, her music has been immensely influenced by her father.
“I was hugely influenced by listening to my father’s music. But of course I play the same instrument as him and I learned from him. Even my brain, as a composer, has shaped by years of learning from him, so I think it’s very very central in my musicianship,” she added.
Anoushka believes that music has the power to bring upliftment and healing to people.
“I really do think that lots of people are turning into their kind of higher selves and that positivity and that hope and peace that I do think it makes a difference. And so any art, anything that helps people do that has incredible value,” she added.
Ravi Shankar was born on April 7, 1920 in Varanasi and died on December 11, 2012 after undergoing heart valve replacement surgery in San Diego, California, US. He had son Shubhendra and Anoushka with Sukanya Rajan.
He also fathered singer Norah Jones, out of wedlock with Sue Jones, a New York concert producer.