25 October, 2020

Strum In A Teacup

But for the rare photographs, the book is merely popcorn profiles and cheesy chuff on artistes, so popular with publishers these days.

Strum In A Teacup
There are many who fit the tag of Lady in White— the late Meena Kumari, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishori Amonkar, each with an aura of mystery and enigma. But none matches up to the ephemeral persona of Annapurna Devi (78), the legendary teacher and player of Surbahar—the only female instrumentalist of genius in the Indian classical pantheon other than the commanding figure of Veena Dhanammal.

The air of tragic melancholy that envelops her persona is primarily as the jilted first wife of sitarist Ravi Shankar, which traumatised her into a self-flagellatory withdrawal into her own intensely-guarded private space from which she has not emerged for four decades.

For nearly half-a-century, Annapurna Devi’s existence has signalled an erasure: of oblivion, hushed whispers, half rumours, sly innuendo, commissioned slander and mythological accounts of musical prowess. As a member of the "first family" of Indian classical music, she occupies the same space in the Maihar-Senia gharana as her father Ustad Allauddin Khan, brother Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, ex-husband Ravi Shankar and son...



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