ĎAt Woodstock, who was listening to music? They were all stonedí


Shekhar Gupta: So how did Saare Jahan Se Achha happen?

Pt Ravi Shankar: It happened then, someone made me hear the song (sings) Saare jahan se achha...That was the original tune, and I felt it sounded very sad. How to make it a song that you can walk to or you can feel more vibrant towards? So it came spontaneously. There is a blessing I have. What comes for the first time, that is the best. And I did the whole song and it came out very well. Unfortunately, it was not publicised or immediately recorded.

Shekhar Gupta: How did you compose it for the first time?

Pt Ravi Shankar: It was absolutely like what it is now. (Sings) Saare jahan se achha, Hindustan hamara hamara, saare jahan se achha... It goes on. But there is a beat and the words are very clear. It caught on and I am glad that it got so popular.

Shekhar Gupta: But it is so funny and unfair that over time even HMV started calling the tune 'traditional'.

Pt Ravi Shankar: That is their ignorance, and I am saying it openly.

Shekhar Gupta: You can say anything. Everybody has to bow to you. And then, the Apu Trilogy with Satyajit Ray.

Pt Ravi Shankar: Well, he was a great friend. He used to come to my concerts. He was one of my greatest admirers in Calcutta for years. Even in Bombay he came.

Shekhar Gupta: And you were an admirer of his as well?

Pt Ravi Shankar: Not at all. He was just a tall person. That's all.

Shekhar Gupta: I see.

Pt Ravi Shankar: It was way after that. I had attained a lot of fame in the early 50s. I heard he was trying to make a film but could not because of lack of funds. And when I went to Calcutta, he said that I would like you to see the film. If you think you'd like to do it, I would be very happy. And one summer afternoon in Bhavanipur, I saw the rushes, I held his hand and said, "My God, what have you done? I have to do this music." And I sang to him the theme song, which immediately came to my mind.

... contd.

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