Anoushka Shankar breezed through town on Thursday to launch musician Tanmoy Bose’s Wasabee. t2 caught up with the sitarist at ITC Sonar earlier in the day for a chat on music, food and family.
|Anoushka is all smiles
We won’t be seeing you perform this time...
I am back in India for a couple of things. I just shot for (STAR World’s) The Dewarists. I will also be performing at two events, but alas all in Delhi. So no, no performing in Calcutta this time. But I am coming back in winter. Tanmoyda (Bose) is organising something, so let’s see. But I am glad I got to come to Calcutta, even if it is for an afternoon!
Tell us about your Dewarists experience and your collaboration with the Midival Punditz...
Actually, Gaurav Raina is featured in this episode but as a solo artiste, so it is not the Punditz officially. I have also worked with two people who are a part of my band. One is a student of my dad (Pandit Ravi Shankar), Sanjeev Shankar on the shanai, and Prasanna Devaraja on lots of Carnatic percussion. The music we have worked on for the episode is a strange one, because it has gone a lot more heavy and electronic than I had expected it to be. See, I haven’t been in that space for a while now but it was so much fun working with Gaurav again... after a long time the music went in that direction. But in its roots, the melody is inspired by all the Flamenco work I have done in the past few years. So we have taken the Flamenco rhythm called the buleria and then worked in the electronic programming and stuff within that rhythmic form. It was fun.
Your son Zubin must be quite a handful now at 19 months. How are you juggling career, tours and parenting?
Zubin has never been one to sit quietly (laughs)! It is a mixed feeling, you know. I am finding it really difficult in the sense that since this is a quick trip I have left him in London and that’s just miserable. I don’t like that at all. But I am trying to do as much as I can while managing a young kid. Also, Zubin has been travelling a lot. He has already shuttled between London and LA four times this year... it is really nuts, so I want to minimise his travels. But at the same time, I don’t want to be away from him. So I think in the next few years I’ll try and be more creative from home. Ninety to 95 per cent of my career has been spent touring, and I did that along with Zubin last year. We did like 70 shows with Traveller and he was on the road with us. It was all great but I wouldn’t want to do that again. It was quite exhausting.
Do you and Joe (husband Joe Wright, director of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice) take time off or alternate your work schedule to keep the balance?
We kind of alternate. It is quite humorous, really. We have these weekly business meetings between us. We sort of meet up for breakfast or something and pull out our calendars and decide what’s happening that week. Then for the long term, we have bigger meetings and decide who is going to work during which month, who will have to pack off when! So, if there is a special situation where we both have to work and it is really important, then what happens… all this gets decided. It is kind of crazy! Right now we are scheduling our 2014 summer… so it is a little mental (laughs)!
Have marriage and motherhood changed you?
Of course people change with each new set of experiences, and marriage and motherhood are the two biggest experiences you can go through. So they definitely changed my life, but it would be difficult to quantify that in a few sentences.
Are you never going to make music for any of your husband’s films?
No (laughs)! See, I am answering a question about a situation which does not exist. If my husband was a lawyer, I would not be sitting in court and playing music while he fought his court cases, would I? It is the same here. We have our different careers, if they end up crossing at some point, we would both be very happy. But it is not something we are actively thinking about.
Any new collaboration or album coming up after Traveller?
Yes, I am working on a new album in London. I am working with a lot of new musicians I have not performed with before. It is fusion music but as usual, it is kind of rooted in classical music. It is based on ragas and a lot of it goes back to my training in western classical music as well. The most exciting thing is that Nitin Sawhney is producing this. We have been great friends for a while and we have worked together in bits and pieces, but this is the first big thing we are doing together. It is going well.
Any plans for an Anoushka Shankar-Norah Jones collaboration?
Yes, we have talked about it off and on. In fact, if it works out she might sing on this album. But we don’t have any plans for a full-fledged duet album or anything that requires that level of collaboration.
Your father had wanted to come down to Calcutta thsi winter...
I know... it is probably one of his biggest dreams. He is always so happy to be here but he hasn’t been that well this year and I think the travel would be quite challenging. I don’t even know if he will make it back to India this year. We have to wait and see, but I hope so.
You are here for Tanmoy Bose’s restaurant launch. Are you a foodie? Yes, I am. Though I am more on the eating side than on the cooking side! In fact, it is one of the best parts of travelling, you get to go and eat so many kinds of food. There isn’t much I don’t like. I like good food. I prefer fresh, healthy food as opposed to over-the-top rich, greasy food.
So no to Indian food?
No, not at all! I have grown up on south Indian food, it is as healthy as you can get. I also love north Indian and Bengali food. They can cook it in ghee, as long as I don’t see it floating in my food. And I hate to see my vegetable completely butchered. And of course, then you have to have room for a nice big dessert!
Anoushka checks out the iPad menu at Wasabee with Tanmoy by her side
Anoushka Shankar tapped on the iPad menu at Wasabee and formally launched percussionist Tanmoy Bose’s “new artistic journey” — a restaurant serving Oriental and Indian cuisine at 956 Kalikapur Road, near Avishar mall — on Thursday afternoon.
“To say Tanmoyda is like a brother is not enough. He is so much more. I have played with him since I was 15, which was when he started touring with my father. So I have grown up being close to him. It is a long-standing friendship. I am so happy for him and I trust him to serve some great food!” said Anoushka, who also caught up with some family members on the occasion.
“Anyone who knows me knows I am a foodie. I love Japanese food and wasabi is my favourite. Also, wasabi is a sound-enhancing component, used mainly in Japanese music. I thought it was a nice blend of two things I like,” said Tanmoy.