‘Always conscious of Ravi Shankar’s music’
By Janane Venkatraman - CHENNAI
20th December 2012 08:45 AM
There was a resounding silence among the audience during the closing notes of Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece of a movie, Pather Panchali, at a special screening organised by Kalakshetra. But the focus of the screening was not the movie, but the music. Playfully lilting at times and sad and resolute at others, the soundtrack which was composed by the late musician Ravi Shankar, has been featured in the Guardian’s list of 50 greatest film soundtracks.
The screening of the movie, accompanied by a reminiscent speech by actor and playwright Girish Karnad, proved to be the perfect start for the Saturday morning to discuss the master sitarist and his composition in the movie.
“The story goes that when Satyajit Ray met Ravi Shankar and specified what he wanted, the latter immediately hummed a tune. It was exactly what Ray wanted and it went on to become the theme song of the film,” said Karnad at the screening.
Karnad added that the music for the opening sequence of the movie became the piece that conditioned everything that followed, everything that Ray himself did after. “Even other filmmakers, including myself, who did our films inspired by Pather Panchali, were always conscious of the music that was created by Ravi Shanker and flautist Alok Dey,” said Karnad.
Karnad narrated how Shankar and Dey sat for 11 solid hours to compose the soundtrack when they had seen only a rough cut of half the movie. “And those days we did not have the magnetic tape. You would be crucified if you made a mistake as recording was very expensive. In that situation, they worked tirelessly,” said Karnad.
“Today, we live in an era in India where music has never been better or richer,” said Karnad and added that, “Ravi Shankar was one of the artists who was responsible for creating it and being part of it, every moment of his life. And when he died, he was still being creative. That’s the kind of life one likes, admires and worships,” he said.
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