Anoushka On Pt. Ravi Shankar And The Lessons He Taught Her
Six-time Grammy nominated sitarist Anoushka Shankar just released her newest EP ‘Love Letters’, where she lays bare her most intimate emotions from her personal life. Talking to The Quint before her India tour, Anoushka spoke about what love means to her, and the emotions she feels at her father Pt.Ravi Shankar’s centenary.
Do you remember when you wrote your own first love letter?
Anoushka: Yeah, to my mom’s best friend’s son. Who was seven years older than me. Who I could not speak in front of for years. He would just show up and I’d be like... yeah I had crushes right from when I was really young. So my mom said she found a love letter under my pillow.
There’s a lot happening in the country right now as well with artistes coming together into a sort of small revolution. Do you think music itself could give tangible growth to movements around the world?
Anoushka: I think historically we can see that it has and can. You know, interestingly, my father was the one who sort of set the ball rolling with some stuff because he went to his friend George Harrison and talked about Bangladesh and how it was really hurting his heart to see all the refugees and their situation. So that’s kind of what built into the concert for Bangladesh, which is the very first benefit concert on record.
The concert has gone on to raise millions and millions for refugees over the decades and that’s something that has continued in so many different ways for so many causes. Live 8 obviously being one of the big ones. Protest songs, protest music – I do think music has an important role to play and can help kind of carry a message sometimes when words can’t.
This is going to be a big year for you. 2020 is your father’s centenary. You’re going to be performing with your sister. How are you feeling about all of that coming together?
Anoushka: I don’t know whether it will feel difficult or beautiful or emotional or just about the shows. I have no idea what it’ll be like. But from my side, so far it feels like a chance to really do something. It feels like an offering for me to really just do these really beautiful celebratory concerts and get together so many of his students and people that mattered to him and people who’ve been influenced by him.
You’ve been in the industry for a long time now and I’m sure there are lessons that you carry from him. What’s the one thing that you always take with you?
Anoushka: I mean there’s a lot obviously as far as what I’ve taken from my dad but his work ethic was one of them. He had a really strong respect and discipline for his art and for his work. Like he always used to say it didn’t even matter if one person or ten people bought tickets in the audience, you had to play the full concert for them. The same as if it were 2,000 people. You know, like each person matters.
And so he had that real respect for his audience. And then the other thing that I feel like I really learnt was just his humility. He saw art as an endless spiritual process. Everyone saw him as this ultimate musician, but he didn’t see it like that. That he was at the top of anything. He just saw how much further he had to go. And for me that just gave huge perspective. Because it showed me how infinite it is.
(Make sure you don't miss fresh news updates from us. Click here to stay updated )