A musical tribute to the maestro at Sawai

Artistes mourn Pt Ravi Shankar's death; special audio-video presentation on the musician held

Day two of the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav was tinged with sadness as all artistes mourned the death of legendary sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar. To pay tribute to the noted musician and composer, the Arya Sangeet Prasar Mandal, which organises the annual festival, showcased a three-minute audio-visual presentation, with a voice over and some rare photographs of the Bharat Ratna recipient who, in some way or the other, had touched the lives of all performers at the festival, as well as the audience.

Feeling the loss of one of the most recognised Indian contemporary musicians, the audience seemed distraught as they kept a measured silence during the presentation.

Shrinivas Joshi, son of the Late Pt Bhimsen Joshi, who has taken over the management of the music festival from this year, talked about his memories with Pt Ravi Shankar and also showed the audience some photographs of his father with the maestro. "My father had known Pt Ravi Shankar for a very long time. They used to stay together whenever they went to Kolkata for shows. He would also come over and stay with us whenever he had a programme in Pune. He had been closely associated with the Sawai Gandharva festival since I was a child," said Joshi, adding: "I remember when I was a teenager, I touched his feet and took his blessings just before his performance in Germany. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to take blessings from such a renowned artiste."

K Upendra Bhat, a senior disciple of Pt Bhimsen Joshi, too, remembered Shankar's close association with the Sawai Gandharva festival and how it all started. "There used to be a famous play titled Katyar Kalizat Ghushali, which was performed by Vasantrao Deshpande, who was one of the trustees of the music festival. In 1981, Pt Ravi Shankar gave a call to Bhimsen Joshiji one day and told him that he wanted to watch that play. Joshiji quickly asked Deshpandeji if he would stage the play. Deshpandeji had already stopped acting for five years but he agreed and Shankarji came down to Pune to watch the play. The music festival was only three days later, so Joshiji took full advantage of the situation and requested Shankarji to perform at the festival, which Shankarji happily obliged. That was the first time he performed at the festival," said Bhat, who recalled that the sitar maestro would respectfully call Joshi 'Bhaiya', and give him the love of an elder brother.

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