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Ravi Shankar took Indian classical to the world: Artistes

Posted on Dec 13, 06:05AM | IANS

Artistes from across the Indian musical scene, including Amjad Ali Khan and Birju Maharaj, Wednesday mourned the death of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar.

The musician and composer passed away in a San Diego hospital in the US Tuesday night at the age of 92.

"It is surreal for me to believe that Pandit Ravi Shankar, whom I called 'dada', is no more. His passing away marks the end of an era that was truly magical," sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan told IANS.

"My father Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan and Ravi-ji's guru Ustad Allaudin Khan learnt from the same guru Ustad Wazir Khan, who belonged to the Senia Beenkar Gharana. In fact, Ravi-ji (Ravi Shankar) once wrote me a message saying that let's keep the Senia Beenkar flag flying high," Amjad Ali khan said.

"Our families have been very close and our meetings were always full of laughter and musical discussion. I will miss him no end and pray that may his glorious soul rest in peace," Amjad Ali Khan said.

Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj told IANS that he knew Ravi Shankar since he was 12-14 years old.

"He loved me a lot. I'm very unhappy. I hope his daughter Anoushka, who is a sitarist herself, will carry forward his legacy. And I pray to God that Pandit-ji will one day take birth again and strum the sitar."

Bharatanatyam danseuse Geeta Chandran said Ravi Shankar had paved the way for musicians to explore classical music in all its forms.

"At his time, there was a 'holier-than-thou' attitude among Indian musicians vis-a-vis their own music. It was Pandit-ji who experimented with many musicians, both Indian and foreign, and went on to take Indian classical music out of its box and into the wide world," she told IANS.

Odissi danseuse Madhavi Mudgal said she knew Ravi Shankar since her childhood. "He was a part of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. His concerts used to start at night and continue till morning."

She said Ravi Shankar had a charming and attractive personality and had a marvellous memory. "You could contact him 25 years after meeting him and he would remember you."

Leela Samson, chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi, told IANS that in the 1950s and '60s, Ravi Shankar conquered the world with his music, performing in Europe and the US, educating audiences, and collaborating with outstanding musicians in the West.

"These years opened out India's music to the world as no other epoch before or since, and paved the way for exchanges in the field that continue to flourish today."

Shobha Deepak Singh, director of Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, said Ravi Shankar's death "should be celebrated, not mourned".

The danseuse-turned choreographer and cultural activist said she possessed some rare photos of the maestro on a holiday in Kashmir with her parents.

"He and Amjad Ali Khan had performed at my wedding and my sister's weddings individually," she said.

Ram Rehman, spokesperson for human rights and culture organisation SAHMAT, said: "Ravi Shankar was a shining example of India's composite culture and was a vocal critic of groups who were seeking to divide and define us on communal lines."