Pandit Ravi Shankar : The Sitar Silenced

English: Master of Sitar, Ravi Shankar. Deutsc...

Pandit Ravi Shankar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 14 , 2012           11.55 P.M.

Pandit Ravi Shankar , the Sitar maestro and the unofficial ambassador of Indian Classical music , died on December 11 , 2012 in San Diego , California , United States of America at the age of 92 .

I am fortunate that I could attend one of his concerts in Allahabad . My Allahabad days are very important for me because they shaped my life and personality immensely . I could meet literary figures like Firaq Gorakhpuri , Sumitra Nandan Pant , Vijay Dev Narayan Sahi and Amrit Rai . I could interact with politicians like Murli Manihar Joshi , who was a professor in the university in those days . I could attend the concerts of various musicians like ; Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad  Alla Rakha Khan and some others .

The year was 1971 / 72 . One evening I was sitting in my room in Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel and was studying . My friend Pramod Vajpayee came running and informed me that Pandit Ravi Shankar along with Ustad Allarakha Khan is going to perform in Lakshmi Talkies . Lakshmi Talkies in Katara area of Allahabad was stones throw away from Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel . In those days it was our favourite hang out . I don’t know whether it still exists or not . But in those days it was almost a part of our lives .

I refused to believe that a musician of the stature of Pandit Ravi Shankar would be performing live in a small cinema hall like Lakshmi Talkies . But my friend’s excitement forced me to believe that it is really going to happen .

I rushed , almost sprinting , to the talkies along with my friend , bought the ticket and entered into the hall panting for breath and took my seat . I waited with bated breath . After some time hall was reverberating with deafening sound of claps and whistles . Pandit Ravi Shankar along with Ustad Allarakha Khan appeared on stage . He gently took his seat and started playing Sitar . Ustad Allarakha Khan was accompanying him on Tabla .

Ah ! I remember only this much . I am just a connoisseur and not an authority of Indian classical music . So I can’t write about the ragas or other nuances of that concert . But I can still remember the moment when time froze . My body became numb and nothing seemed to exist . There were two magical figures on the stage and the hall was full of etherial sound . I am unable to explain that moment .

I cherished that moment till now . That experience has become a part of my being . On December 11th , when I read about his death , it dawned on me that I won’t be able to see him ever . That fateful evening in Allahabad’s Lakshmi Talkies was my first and now the last occasion when I was so close to the colossus legend .

God ! I can live with pride that I could see the Tansen of my generation performing live in front of my eyes . Pandit Ravi Shankar is gone but my experience of attending his concert will live with me till my last breath .

All the news papers are full of the minutest details of his life . So there are no need to reproduce them . Today I just remembered the early days of Pandit Ravi Shankar . I was telling my acting students how Pandit ji was vehemently criticized by his peers and competitors . A puritan like Ustad Vilayat Khan , a life – long bete noir of Pandit Ravi Shankar , left no stone unturned to decry Pandit ji . According to him , Pandit Ravi Shankar was a fake wannabe Sitar player .Ustad Vilayat Khan’s rivalry turned into open animosity with the passage of time . He refused to accept Padma Shri in 1964 , Padma Bhushan in 1968 and Padma Vibhushan in 2000 because Pandit Ravi Shankar was conferred Padma Bhushan in 1967 , Padma Vibhushan in 1981 and finally Bharat Ratna in 1999 , and according to Ustad Vilayat Khan he would not accept any award that other Sitar players , his juniors and in his opinion less deserving , had been given before him . He even said , ” if there is any award for Sitar in India , I must get it first . ” He also refused Sangeet Natak Akademy Award and even boycotted All India Radio for a while . It is alleged that it all happened because of his jealousy and animosity for Pandit Ravi Shankar . And the end result was that Pandit Ravi Shankar got international fame and ultimately the Bharat Ratna . While Ustad Vilayat Khan had some decrepit awards called ; Bharat Sitar Samrat and Aftab – E – Sitar .

I told acting students of my acting institute , Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , that in the beginning of one’s life’s journey one can be called a fake , a wannabe , a cheat or a person of lesser knowledge by his jealous and less successful competitors . One should not get disheartened or affected . Time settles everything . Time has given a final and decisive verdict in the case of Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan . It will and it can happen to any one . Only time can tell . Only time will decide .


I bow my head in reverence and pay my respect to the Tansen of my generation . With the demise of Pandit Ravi Shankar , Sitar will never be the same again . The world of music is orphaned .



An Evening With Shweta Pandit


January 09, 2011. What a Sunday ! After a long time , almost after five years, on this very cold , windy and dreary Sunday of Mumbai, I got an opportunity to meet famous playback singer Shweta Pandit. Her brother Yash Pandit is my student and because of him I know her personally. I am a huge admirer of her grand-uncle Pandit Jasraj ji, who is the real brother of her grandfather Pandit Pratap Ji.

Indian singer Pandit Jasraj at the launch of h...

Image via Wikipedia - Pandit Jasraj Ji

I used to like her Bua Sulakshan Pandit, who was a famous singer-actor of her time. I am a huge fan of her famous uncles and notable music director duo Jatin-Lalit also. Who is not a fan of hit musical scores of blockbuster films like ” Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge ” , ” Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai ” and ” Mohabbatein ” . All these films have Jatin-Lalit compositions. Recent hit ” Munni Badnam Hui ” of ” Dabangg ” is also a creation of Lalit Pandit. Shweta Pandit’s  father Mandhir Pandit gave music for some of Dev Anand films under the name of Mandhir-Jatin.


Image via Wikipedia

” Mohabbatein ” [ 2000 ] reminds me of Shweta Pandit because it was her debut film. She sang two songs – ” Sab Darwaze Kar Lo Band, Dekho Aaye Aaye Chor  ” and  ” Chalte Chalte Yun Hi ” at the age of 12. It was a Yash Raj film. It was Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan starrer. She gave voice to Shamita Shetty in this film. As a trainer ” Mohabbatein ” was a big and important film for me too. I was called by Aditya Chopra to train 6 artistes, who were making their debut with this film. They were – Uday Chopra, Jugal Hansraj, Jimmy Sheirgill, Shamita Shetty, Priti Jhangiani and Kim Sharma. That time I didn’t know that Shweta Pandit is also making her debut with this film. ” Mohabbatein “ changed my life completely. From being an unknown and insignificant player in the field of acting training, I became a known figure in this field. And from being a 12 years old debutant singer, Shweta Pandit became an international sensation, who hops around the world along with A. R. Rehman for his concerts.


Yash Raj Films International

Image via Wikipedia - Logo of Yash Raj Films

Shweta called me on Saturday night to inform me that she would be coming to my institute on Sunday. It was nice seeing her after 5 years. She is same courteous, vibrant and energetic girl, who met me years ago with his brother Yash Pandit and who had now matured as a singer and as an international performer.

It was nice meeting you Shweta. We both started our major film journey from ” Mohabbatein “. It is an eleven year old relationship. We share a kind of professional umbilical cord. I pray to God that this umbilical cord should not and would never be snapped.




This site is about Health and Wellbeing

Arun Shanbhag

Life is Beautiful, Live it the fullest is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: