Of Music, Songs and Tears: The Final Act of Indian Legend

He introduced the Beatles to the Sitar!

And presented Indian Classical music to the world!

And yet after his death, his legendary work recently made the world cry.

Four years ago India lost its greatest treasure and the world lost its biggest musical icon when Sitar Maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away at the age of 92.His famous works such as The Three Ragas, 1962 LP– Improvisations and his collaboration with Sarod expert Ustad Ali Akbar Khan still resonate in the heart and minds of millions of music lovers all around the globe and millions on Indian social networking sites.

Before he left us, Shankar expressed his desire to compose a fusion of Indian classical music and Opera. Well, Pandit Ravi Shankar is now no more, but here are some pointsabout the legend and his final act –

  1. Story in a name – Sukanya

  • Named after his wife, Sukanya Shankar and the mother of his sitar prodege daughter Anoushka Shankar, Sukanya was the dream Opera project of Pandit Ravi Shankar. The project became reality when in May 2017; it was premiered in the form of a UK tour at Curve Theater in Leicester.


  • Shankar met Sukanya in 1978 who was 34 years his junior then. One of Shankar’s favorite stories from the Mahabharata also happened to be about Sukanya, the character of a woman who falls in love with a blind old sage called Chyavana, and remains loyal to him depite the attempts of two demigods to woo her

  • The show looks to act as a bridge music and theatre of India and the West with performers and collaborators from countries like South Africa, Brazil and of course, India.

  1. The Efforts of Friends and Daughter

  • It is rather surprising to think of Hindustani music in the same breath as Western Opera. The tones, the tempo and the instruments are all poles apart. This surprise was also expressed by Shankar’s daughter, Anoushka when she heard of her father’s plans to merge the two forms of music.

  • Nonetheless, it was aWelsh conductor David Murphy, a long time friend of Shankar who decided to fulfill Shankar’s dreams. Anoushka Shankar too collaborated with Murphy as an advisor for Indian elements and aspects.

  • The determination and love for music can be evidenced from the fact that even when he was ill, Shankar instructed Murphy all the elements for this show and often told him about the influence of Indian music on western music and the latter’s development through Indian music.

  1. The Show Must Go On…

  • Although Pandit Ravi Shankar couldn’t live to see his dream turn into reality, the premiere show of ‘Sukanya’ turned out to be a magical experience on stage.

  • The production was led by soprano (classical female singing voice) Susanna Hurrell who performed the title role with the support of five soloists, 60 musicians from London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and 100 actors and dancers. They performed along with Indian music and dance accompanied by sitar, shehnai, tabla and percussion instruments.

(Note: Most of these instruments were even used in old Bollywood songs, but have been replaced by digital sounds today)

  • The choreography and the visuals of the show look truly mesmerizing as well and the whole thing feels so easy and accessible instead of making anyone intimidated by Indian classical music.

Thank you for reading and do write about your experiences of listening to Pandit Ravi Shankar or other classical singers and musicians in the comments section below.

Source : https://sabakuch.com/blog/2017/06/06/of-music-songs-and-tears-the-final-act-of-indian-legend/  

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