British Indian sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar during the promotion of on her first film composition for the restored rare Indian silent film ‘Shiraz,’ in Kolkata, Nov. 2. (Press Trust of India)
She is a noted musician and is taking forward the legacy of her father sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar but Anoushka Shankar says one does not have to hold fast to traditions as culture is inherent. The 36-year-old musician says one has to learn to be secure about it.
In an interview with PTI, Anoushka says, “In the last few years in particular, I’ve found that it’s okay to let go of culture rather than hold on to it. And by letting go, you kind of realize that it’s there anyway.
“It is kind of in you – you’ve been brought up a certain way so it’s there. You have to have a little confidence in your culture.”
The sitarist believes if traditions are forced upon people, the greater idea of moving forward together fails.
“I think we are all individuals at the end of the day.
There’s nothing about culture that can prescribe who you’re meant to be.
“But when culture becomes a baggage, things don’t work.
What is good about anything that feels like a baggage? I think we should let go when it feels like a burden. Hold on to the things you love. Then it will be a natural process.”
Anoushka has given the background score for the 1928 silent film, “Shiraz: A Romance of India,” which was resurrected by BFI London.
The Franz Osten-directed movie, with Himanshu Rai and Seeta Devi, is the first film for which she has composed music.
Anoushka says, “It is a huge honor for me. ‘Shiraz’ is an important part of our filmmaking and cultural history.
I figured that they asked me to do this because I work with the kind of music that is simultaneously of an older era and equally modern… And also, music that very much belongs to Indian culture and is also multicultural.
“From the beginning, I wanted to work in a soundscape that is both old and new. That gave me a broad canvas to paint with.”
Anoushka says she was conscious about her role as a composer and often kept the instrumentalist in her in control.
But that affected the background score of “Shiraz” initially.
“I was so aware that the music should not just be about the sitar, so I ended up putting really little portions of it.
When my husband (filmmaker Joe Wright) heard the score, he said he could barely hear the sitar. So, I went back and added some sitar to it.”