Gingger in your music

Violinist Gingger Shankar, the lesser-known daughter of L Subramaniam, on India and composing for world cinema

Gingger Shankar is not a name that music lovers in India are familiar with. On YouTube and MySpace videos, she appears as a thin Indian girl in black leather dress and black boots playing Carnatic classical music with a touch of western classical on a violin-like instrument. Google her and you'd get a list of Hollywood films she has composed music for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Mike Nichol's Charlie Wilson's War among others. Yet, it was only when an Iranian indie film, Circumstance, won an award at the Sundance Festival in January in Utah, USA, that India became aware of music composer Shankar, the eldest of violin maestro L Subramaniam's four children. Her mother was classical singer Viji Subramaniam and her uncle, the Grammy-nominated violinist Laxmi Shankar.

Subramaniam, however, has rarely spoken about this 'forgotten' daughter. Question Shankar about her relationship with her father's family and her three siblings, and she says, "So many from my family are in the public eye, I prefer not to discuss them," she says.

Her forte is playing the double violin, an instrument that covers the whole orchestral range. "There are only two of them in the world," she says. She has appeared at concerts with Peter Gabriel, Zakir Hussain and Smashing Pumpkins among others. But she has held only one performance, with percussionist Sivamani, in India.

Over e-mail from Los Angeles, where she is based, Shankar, 28, says, "Unfortunately, I have not been to India for several years, but hope to be there by the end of 2011."

Her mother features predominantly in her conversations. "My mother had everything to do with who I was and who I became as an artiste. I am my mother's daughter," says Shankar, who uses her mother's maiden name instead of her father's equally famous one.

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