‘Panditji never restricted himself to his craft alone’

His sitar will never be strung to rend the air. For the indefatigable world-renowned sitar genius Pandit Ravi Shankar takes a bow after a long performance on the stage soiree of life. But for a legendary figure and an evergreen personality like his, the inevitable end comes too soon even at that ripe age of 92.

Breathing his last at a San Diego hospital on early Wednesday morning, Panditji’s demise certainly brought the curtains down over an era of golden music and classical gems.
Though the immediate bereaved family of the Shankars in South Kolkata, comprising the nonagenarian danseuse Amala Shankar (wife of the Uday Shankar and Panditji’s sister-in-law) and her actress-dancer daughter Mamata Shankar chose their privacy over making any public statements, the daughter-in-law Tanushree Shankar, on the other hand, told the media that “it’s just unbelievable to think that he is no more. This is not just a familial loss but a huge blow to the entire music fraternity. I considered him God in the realm of Indian classical music.”
Ace percussionist Tanmoy Bose sounded nostalgic while remembering the 13 continuous years spent with the sitar virtuoso on his concert tours and at his place over some free-wheeling adda sessions. “Panditji was a complete musician as his ears were always attuned to the oceanic sphere of world music and its diverse genres. He never restricted himself to his craft alone,” he asserted. “It’s been a sudden shock for me as only a month ago I had happened to share the stage with his mastery at the Long Beach Arts Centre in Los Angeles. Anoushka (Panditji’s sitarist-daughter) and myself accompanied him on that two-and-a-half hour-long show. It goes without saying that a Pandit Ravi Shankar programme will invariably spark off a mass hysteria and be always felicitated with a standing ovation but on this particular function, Panditji was wheeled in a chair with oxygen tubes penetrating his nose. People in the auditorium just burst into tears,” his voice choked with emotions.

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