Legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar recently received, posthumously, a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. In this interview with Bollywood Hungama’s Subhash K Jha, Shankar’s daughter, Anoushka, talks about the honour and her dad…
It was an emotionally moving moment for all Indians to see you and your half-sister, Norah Jones, receiving the Grammy on your father’s behalf. What was the experience like?
For us, too. The feelings I went through were mixed. It was an incredibly wonderful thing to see him being honoured this way. We were incredibly proud.
I am grateful that he got to know he was going to receive the Grammy before he died. Sadly he wasn’t there to receive it personally. So it was a very bitter-sweet moment for us… but it was a lovely thing to have happened.
Panditji was beyond an icon. Do you feel a sense of responsibility about carrying his legacy forward?
Yes and no. I never thought of it as a responsibility before. But now I do feel there’s a legacy to be passed on and shared with others. I am conscious that there are generations after me who haven’t grown up with the iconic figure of my father in their lives. And it’s very important for my father’s music to go out in the world. In that sense I do feel I’ve a responsibility of sharing his music with people.
Has the passing away of Panditji brought you and your sister together?
Not really. Over the years we’ve been incredibly close. I am grateful, though, to have a sister like Norah to share all of this with. It would have been more difficult to go through this phase alone.
How much of a sitar player is Norah?
She is not! You should ask her this. But she doesn’t play the sitar. In fact she is quite shocked by how difficult it is to play the sitar.
Do you think Panditji’s disciples are capable of carrying on his legacy?
I don’t know if “capable” is the right word. Once you put it that way you’re putting up future generations for scrutiny. Everyone would be doing whatever he or she can. My advice to my father’s followers is to have a sense of responsibility and dedication to my father’s music. That would automatically perpetuate his legacy. Beyond that there is no measure of success or failure regarding his legacy.
Are you planning anything immediate in Panditji’s memory?
Yes, I am coming to India soon and we’re planning to hold a memorial for him in Delhi. We’re not able to do any immediate memorial service in India for him. So this is our belated effort.
Do you still travel as much as you used to?
It feels like a lot more now, to be honest. Recently I was travelling to be with my father as much as I could. And there was my husband and baby, plus my own work. It was quite crazy. I don’t get enough sleep. It’s about time management, really.
• Pandit Ravi Shankar, a three-time Grammy winner, died in December in California, before he could collect the Grammy he was due to be awarded for lifetime achievement.
– bollywoodhungama.com, AFP