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World of music has lost its God, say maestros

Wednesday, 12 December 2012 - 11:30pm IST
Sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar died in southern California on Wednesday inflicting a huge void in the music industry. His colleagues express grief.

Sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar died in southern California on Wednesday inflicting a huge void in the music industry. The entire music industry expresses grief.

Khayyam (Music director)
He was the tallest personality in the world of music, it would have been befitting for him to be called Vishwa Ratna too. I have always insisted on using sitar in all my compositions which was in many ways a result of his direct influence on my music making. While his prowess in classical music is spoken about a lot, we should not forget the beautiful soul stirring numbers he composed for Anuradha in 1960 and Godaan three years later. The magic of Lataji and him coming together was ethereal. (Sings)  In 1979 he teamed up with Gulzar to give us the immortal tracks of Meera. We were all personally pained when he lost out on the Oscar for Gandhi in 1982.

Shubha Mudgal (Classical vocalist)
One feels too overwhelmed to say anything. It is not often that one comes across a man so tall with such rich and diverse interests in the purusit of music. Truly a maestro's maestro, Panditji's body of work is such that young sitarists will take a long time figuring out what is left for them to do. If you see early writings on Indian music in the times of the East India Company, there was a very disparaging and poor view of it. If the West has now swung to the other side and has an almost reverential approach to it, all credit for that has to be given to Panditji who did this single-handedly

Taufique Qureishi (Percussionist)
I am speechless. Shocked. This is really difficult. I pray to God to give his wife Sukanyaji and daughter Anushka the stoic to bear this cruel blow. I have grown up watching my Abba Ustad Allarakha Khan and him spinning magic with their music. Zakirbhai has also performed with him and was very close. In fact he’s gone into a shell since we got to know. He hasn’t responded to my phone too. It must be very hard on him since he shared a very special and close rapport with Panditji.

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma (Santoor maestro)
In 1968 he invited me to perform in a series of concerts across the US and Canada with Ustad Allarakha Khan. He is single-handedly responsible for making Indian music known to the world.  I feel at a loss to say anything. It is indeed the darkest day for the world of music.

Rashid Qurieshi (Classical vocalist)
In 1978 I had the privilege of performing before him. And despite his seniority he was so magnanimous with his praise for a rank junior like me. His contribution to Indian music and world music was so immense yet he never held back when he praised good efforts.

Dr Raja Reddy (Kuchipudi exponent)
Such was his fame that, no matter where Radha and me would go to perform, Tokyo, Singapore, Washington or Paris, people would want to know if we are from the “land of Ravi Shankar.” When we approached him few years ago to compose, we were hesitant wondering whether he would agree, but not only did he agree but has created a beautiful tarana in Nat-Bhairavi which has left audiences in raptures whenever we’ve danced to it. Truly a big loss.

Satish Vyas (Santoor exponent)
Today the world of music has lost its God. Given what he has done in showcasing Indian music, his loss will not be filled in centuries to come. He was one of the last of his kind. I feel privileged that I got to spend nearly half a day with him and dine in his San Deigo home where on his bidding his wife Sukanyaji had cooked a lovely simple Indian meal. Not merely musical or cultural but he was the finest overall ambassadors  of the country. At airports, aboard planes across the globe, at concerts, people would come and ask me if I play the sitar. That’s how popular he had made his instrument.  

Pandit Jasraj (Classical vocalist)
He was truly God’s own. How else would anyone have been blessed with as much talent?  The best thing was that this came packaged with a rare combination of legendary humility.  At a time when he was the cynosure of the world, instead of hogging the limelight by himself he had the large heartedness to tell people that there were other gems like Ustad Bismillah Khan (shehnai), Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (sarod), Ustad Allarakha Khan (table) and several others. This gives us a glimpse into the man’s greatness. Which is why his passing away, hurts so much.

Pandit Hariprasad  Chaurasia (Flautist)
I am a student of his estranged wife and music legend Annapurnaji. Yet, he never showed any rancour and has consistently been warm with me. Despite his exposure he was a man of simple tastes and loved Indian food particularly cooked in South Indian style. Fond of both recounting  and listening to jokes, I never saw him low. In fact he ensured that his company brought cheer and positive energy to all around. I’ve been in tears thinking how it will be not to have the voice at the other end laughing raucously at a joke.

Pandit Birju Maharaj (Kathak exponent)
I feel orphaned and wonder how Sukanyaji and Anushka must be dealing with their grief. There should be some way of ensuring that iconic legends like him never ever die. Who will bring back that magic now? (Breaks down).  I remember accompanying him on the table at a performance years ago and he was so indulgent with his praise every time I played something.

Shruti Sadolikar (Classical vocalist)
This is really a very tragic loss for the world of music. His contribution in putting Indian music at pinnacle can never be forgotten. I remember performing at a concert at Rang Bhavan in 1979 when he was very kind and effusive with his praise. “You have all the makings of the next Kesarbai,” he said showering blessings on me. He was both a great artiste and a warm human being. His early exposure to global aesthetics when he travelled with his brother Uday Shankar's troupe as a young dancer had steeped him in the Western aesthete. This meant that he knew exactly how to tweak the ragas enough so that they don't lose their soul and yet appeal to a larger audience.

Lata Mangeshkar (Vocalist)
He was very aware of the close connection between the spiritual and music and would often talk about reaching out to the devotional aspect. He would want every artiste in the orchestra to remember this as they played. In his death, an era has ended and curtain fallen on the approach to music . Who can ever fill a void like this? I feel blessed that I got to sing under his baton.

Dr Suvarnalata Rao (Musicologist and Head Programming (Indian Music), NCPA)
Pandit Ravi Shankar was more than a musician. He paved the path for Indian musicians to be recognized on the international stage . In the headrush of the 60s, when India was perceived as a place of mystics, snake charmers and hippies, Panditji was instrumental in presenting an India of highly sophisticated music and art, rooted in centuries of tradition. For years to come, Indian culture would continue to be synonymous with Panditji. Panditji’s charisma, versatility, ability to connect effortlessly with his audiences made him a persona to reckon with.

Ustad Zakir Hussain (Tabla maestro)
Beings like him don't die. They just go back to heaven to take their rightful place amongst Gods. Today, with his presence, heaven is enriched. Farewell Ravi uncle.


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