/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": Remembering a 'Shankar' i.e. the famed Dancer and Classical Singer Lakshmi Shankar

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Remembering a 'Shankar' i.e. the famed Dancer and Classical Singer Lakshmi Shankar


Christmas, December 25, 1982, is etched very keenly in the memory of this writer.
The first snow fall had just about come and gone leaving behind its white traces. It ushered in, however, a day that was gentle, beautiful and bright under it's reflection. For most Americans ( unlike New Year which represents one last sodden fling at happiness), Christmas is a subdued time when bonding with family and close friends is at its highest. Just about everyone thinks of reclining, eating and mingling for the day around a decorated tree; the one day you can take it 'real easy' (an Americana) after having been outspent the whole year. As in the case of most people, the movies are a beckoning feature ; in this particular case it was a call towards the 'Big Apple' (New York City); to the largely accomodative, red crimson carpeted, heavily draped theater of a bygone era; the Royal Ziegfield where Attenborough's Gandhi had just been premiered.
And, what an experience it turned out to be!
Where one expected to find a gathering, largely of 'desis' (the diaspora of Indians), the hall was all but packed to the hilt with African-Americans and 'whites', all dressed somberly but in their best attire that included suits, ties and hats. Where one expected to see only a 'good' movie, one was but arrested by a visual 'stunner', just magnificent in its proportions and which also brought on many an emotional and gut wrenching scene. On that particular day, it seemed, people had gathered not merely to witness a movie. It seemed, rather, that Americans from all walks of life had gathered to pay homage to the memory of a man (however 'frail' looking, 'brown skinned' and foreign he might appear to be) in whom they had come to empathize all that they had held dear to in their life; things like honesty, goodness, virtue, courage, honor, patience, dignity; all things that represented eternal values but cultivated through aeons of self sacrifice.
That Christmas day, one felt that a movie hall had transformed itself into the sacredness of a church; a feeling of being in cathedral pews as each individual rose up solemnly to respect the final strains of Gandhi's beloved piece 'Vaishnava Jana Tho', so hauntingly brought to life by none other than an honored member of India's cherished Shankar family, the artistic, classical singer and earlier dancer, Lakshmi Shankar. As the prayer set it's requeim to the movie's lasting legacy, many would recall shuffling silently to the exits amidst muffled sobs, amidst hundreds of glistening moist eyes and the constant reference to an 'Amen' from those deeply touched.
It gives us great pleasure to post some Sur Das, Kripalu Das, and other types of bhajans rendered by this beautiful singer with a very 'soulful' personality. It is from a concert that she gave in 'Parvathi', Mysore back in 1970. [ 1.Elo Elo Shashishekhara-Bhoop-Kannada song 2. Pathik Tum–Janasammodini–Kripalu Das & Begabaa Sakhi–Bageshri–Pu Ti Na 3. Nath Anathanaki-Manj Khamaj–Surdas 4. Mere Janam maran ke saathi-Darbari Kanada–Meera Bhajan & Khayal–Malkauns 5. Mori Choro Gagariya -Thumri–Pahadi 6. Ab ke Madhav–Sampurna Malkauns-Surdas Bhajan & Ajhoom Na Aye-Bhairavi ]


We also present Poet and fellow of India's Sahitya Academy, P.T. Narasimhachar( PuTiNa ) felicitating Lakshmi Shankar in Kannada:



We also show you a keepsake photograph from 1970. Also seen with Lakshmi Shankar is the famed Carnatic Singer Vidwan Trichur V. Ramachandran.