Maestro. Memories. Music.

Published: Dec 13, 2012, 09:59 IST | Soma Das, Surekha S, Ruchika Kher & Hassan M Kamal |

Legends, icons and contemporaries across different genres reminisce their time spent with the God of Sitar � Pandit Ravi Shankar

Remembering pandit ravi shankar
Louis Banks, Jazz musician
I had the good fortune of performing with Pandit Ravi Shankar just once, but it was memorable. It was in 1980, when Panditji was keen on doing a Fusion show of Jazz and Indian classical music. So, I was invited along with John Handy, Mike Richmond and George Adams to perform with him at the Jazz Yatra Festival. We had a couple of rehearsals. To see an artiste of his stature work around us, joke with us, laugh with us, totally unaffected by legendary status, was great. He was like any other musician, casual and friendly. That remains my impression of Panditji.

Compiled by Soma Das, Surekha S, Ruchika Kher & Hassan M Kamal

We performed live at the Rang Bhavan. I had a great time, interpreting some of his classical works into Jazz. I still have a copy of the album, Jazzmine that was released based on our performance. He was very open-minded about his approach to music. He wanted to prove that Indian music could integrate with Western music, and he single-handedly made it happen. He provided a refreshing touch to Indian music, and to every musician he worked with. A gentle soul, he will be missed, but his daughter Anoushka Sharma and his disciples will carry his legacy forward.

Kartik Kumar
(75 year-old sitar player, oldest living student of Pandit Ravi Shankar)

I started learning under his tutelage in 1958 and it has been an ongoing education, till today. We had a close association; apart from being Guru-Shishya, we shared a father-son equation. He not only gave me music lessons but also taught me about religion, what to eat, how to walk, talk and keep fit. He is a superhuman being, and as the sun never sets, Guruji and his music will be alive in our hearts. His contribution to music was phenomenal; at 92 he was performing on stage, which is unheard of, elsewhere.

An archival photo of Kartik Kumar (left) playing on the sitar

I have also accompanied him on the sitar for his world concerts. Even in terms of looks and personality, he was unmatched. While he may have left his body, his legacy will be carried on thanks to his students. He considered my son Niladri (Kumar) as his grandson. Now, I believe that I will continue to learn from him even in my dreams. About 15 days back, he had called me over the telephone to bless my son and myself — it remains as a precious memory.

Pandit Satish Vyas, Santoor icon
I met him on October 12 in his San Diego home where I had spent a day with him. I was in the US for a concert, on October 13 at Los Angeles. Since his home was two hours away from Los Angeles, each time I had a concert I would visit him. He treated me like a son. Our association dates back to 30 years. Even during our last meeting, he was in good shape. Barring the small oxygen tubes that went through his nose, he seemed okay. He was moving; his speech was crystal clear. He spoke about his concert on November 4. He was immersed in music with his life and soul.

Even a month back, you could sense the energy in his speech, as he shared little anecdotes. It was perhaps the spirituality of music that lit his life and body and kept him energetic at 92. He pioneered Fusion music. Whenever I would fly to the US, seeing me clad in my kurta-pyjama, people on board would ask about my profession. When I would say I am on a concert tour, they would ask, “Is it like Pandit Ravi Shankar’s music; we have
heard him?”

Pandit Ronu Majumdar, Flautist
This is the saddest day of my life and it is a personal loss. He was a gift of god. He has inspired the entire music industry and taught people how to present themselves in world music. I am known for my style of flute playing, but it was Panditji who told me how. In 1988, while in Moscow, for the final day of the Festival of India, we were in the same hotel, and it was my birthday.

Panditji spoke to me for long, guiding me to develop my own style. I have worked on his inputs. He was like my father and mentor. Today, 90 per cent of what I am is because of Panditji. We toured together across Russia, UK and the US. Three of my albums with him were a remarkable experience. The first time I played alongside Panditji was as an 18-year-old, at 1981 Delhi’s Asiad Games for its welcome song. Every generation should follow his path.  

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