Sir — The editorial, “Life in music”(Dec 13), is a fitting tribute to the sitar virtuoso, Ravi Shankar, who explored the roots of Indian music through his powerful renditions and captivating performances that enthralled music-lovers all over the world.
Hailing from an illustrious family in Varanasi, he was well trained by Ustad Allauddin Khan. The training, as also his dedication, helped him attain the perfection he was renowned for. He possessed a unique personality and could easily attract the attention of music lovers in India as well as in the world. His musical skills were utilized by critically acclaimed film directors like Satyajit Ray in Pather Panchali, Sir Richard Attenborough in Gandhi, Hrishikesh Mukherjee in Anuradha, Tapan Sinha in Kabuliwala, Mrinal Sen in Genesis and Gulzar in Meera. Besides being the recipient of numerous national and international awards, he was also honoured with a membership of the Rajya Sabha in 1986 in recognition of his talent.
One hopes that his daughters, Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones, will carry forward the rich legacy left behind by Shankar. This would be the best tribute to a man who revolutionized the sitar and put India on the world map through his recitals.
Jayant Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — Girish Karnad has rightly said of Ravi Shankar that “it is a case of an artist creating an age and an age creating an artist. There was a complete symbiosis between the time and the artist”. Ravi Shankar’s embedded roots in Indian classical music and his openness to Western music enabled him to be an effective cultural ambassador. Historical events like the United States of America opening up to the Indian diaspora in the 1960s and invitations from the settlers to perform there enabled him to touch the hearts of the Western audience. The maestro, who passed away in San Diego in the US at the age of 92, was called the “the godfather of world music” by George Harrison of the Beatles. It was Shankar’s vision that helped Indian ragas make a mark on the Western consciousness.
At the age of 18, he became an apprentice of Allauddin Khan. For seven years, Khan was Shankar’s mentor and he helped the latter inherit a great musical tradition. In his autobiography, My Music, My Life, Shankar said that “Baba”, (he called his teacher by this name) made his pupils practise for hours on end and often resorted to corporal punishment. Shankar transcended the boundaries set by culture, race, geography, and class through his music.
Dilip Kumar Kar, Jalpaiguri
Sir — Ravi Shankar first made an impression in his own right with scores written for two notable Indian films in 1946, Dharti ke Lal and Neecha Nagar, and composed for the Indian People’s Theatre Association. In 1946 , he was involved with the production and music composition for a ballet, The Discovery of India, based on the book by Jawaharlal Nehru. He later founded and became the musical director of All India Radio’s first national orchestra and was sent on foreign cultural tours by the government. But his lasting legacy may be his compositions that will always remain alive in the Indian imagination.
K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore
Sir — A significant era of Indian classical music has come to an end with the passing away of Ravi Shankar. Among other things, Shankar will be remembered as the musician who became an icon after collaborating with and greatly influencing a member of the Beatles. He is also credited with popularizing Indian music through his work with Yehudi Menuhin.The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, while paying tribute to the legend, has rightly said that with his demise a national treasure and global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage has gone. The icon had an illustrative career spanning six decades. He received many national and global awards that included the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, as well as three Grammys. Music lovers should pay him a fitting tribute.
Ramesh G. Jethwani, Bangalore
Sir — Ravi Shankar was an ambassador of Indian music for several decades. The sitar is synonymous with Shankar and vice versa. There is no denying the fact that generations of sitarists in India have been inspired by this genius. His performances at festivals like the Monterey and Woodstock helped Shankar establish himself as a pioneer of crossover sounds.
Kisholoy Roy, Calcutta
Sir — Last evening, my wife and I had been to Priya Cinema next to Deshapriya Park for an evening show. I had told my driver to park the car inside the lane behind the cinema hall where parking fees are not charged. After the film, when we came to board the vehicle, we were accosted by a youth who claimed Rs 30 as a fee. When I said that the car was not parked in a parking zone and that there were no blue signboards declaring it as such, he said that the board had fallen off. When I asked him for his identity papers, he started calling other boys for help. Sensing trouble, I told my driver to drive off even as the men showered the choicest of abuses. There was no policeman in sight. It seems that a group of thugs have started collecting parking fee in the area. Must citizens be fleeced in this manner?
Mihir Chakravarti, Calcutta