Performing in the country after two years, Anoushka Shankar talks about her latest album and more
From the time she started training under her father, the legendary sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar has never restricted herself to one form of music. Having experimented with genres like jazz and blues in the past, she has had concerts with renowned names like Ustad Zakir Hussain, Jethro Tull, Joshua Bell and Zubin Mehta. She has seven studio albums to her credit and has collaborations with musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Sting and Rodrigo Y Gabriela. The London-based sitar player released her latest album, Home, in July this year. It is her first purely Indian classical record since 2000’s Anourag. She is currently planning an India tour which starts with a concert in Mumbai on December 12. She is expected to be accompanied by her husband, director Joe Wright and two sons, Zubin and Mohan. The musician talks to us about the tour, her latest album and more.
The India experience.
I was heavily pregnant with Mo (Mohan Shankar Wright) last winter and, therefore, didn’t come to visit India. So, naturally, I’m looking forward to the concerts, as playing in India is always a special experience. We will be taking a holiday together over New Year’s and I look forward to showing Zubin many things about our country and culture. At nearly five, he is now old enough to create memories and understand more.
On paying homage to her father through Raga Jogeshwari.
After my father passed away, I had played several classical concerts in his tribute. I felt a deep connection with my father while playing at those concerts and I wanted to capture that on record. I played Raga Jogeshwari with my father a lot. It was created by him and so it seemed the perfect choice to pay homage to him on Home. I was also seven months pregnant, and so I felt deeply connected to life, feeling Mo kick in my belly whilst I was playing to my father’s memory.
Fundamentals of releasing a classical album like Home.
I’ve put my own money into making this record, unlike my non-classical records where there is a budget available from my record label. It’s a real shame that they know how differently media will treat the two genres. However, I have received a deep level of satisfaction and joy from making a classical album after many years. Though the audience is smaller, the feedback I’ve received from people, who’ve been waiting to hear a classical record by me, has been humbling.
Projects to look forward to.
I’m currently feeling very grateful and proud to have finished making another album, my second one this year after Home. This album, titled Land of Gold, has strong female guest vocalists and amazing collaborators, all of whom help me express anger and discontent, but also a hope for the future. It will be released soon.
Being a citizen with a voice.
I’m a die-hard, lifelong feminist, and my patience with the way women are treated and viewed has reached saturation point in the last two years, particularly after the tragic Delhi gang-rape and murder. I also view myself as a citizen with a voice and a right to use it. When a cause speaks to my heart or I feel outrage at something, I can’t help but speak, or speak through my music.
From December 12-18, in Mumbai, New Delhi, Jaipur and Bengaluru. Details: bookmyshow.com
— Arka Sengupta