Pandit Ravi Shankar: The God Father of World Music

By Pickle  June 22, 2020
Pandit Ravi Shankar: The God Father of World Music, Pickle Media

To mark the centenary year of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and to take his life story to the modern generation, Boxclever Media has been making a documentary. Luke White, Director of Boxclever, appeals for partners to help complete the documentary supported by a British Broadcaster

At Boxclever Media we’re forever searching for the fascinating untold stories of remarkable people all over the world. In the case of Pandit Ravi Shankar, however, we have a man who was already globally renowned for his unparalleled musical talent. He was a true legend of his craft and his life achievements have already been well documented -although not, as we feel, in a format that is accessible to the next generation.

Most of the content that is available online is lengthy archive-based material that feels disconnected from modern-day culture. Through ‘Ravi Shankar: The Godfather of World Music’, it’s our ambition to make sure that Ravi’s story remains relevant, by demonstrating how his music influenced western musicians and his spiritual beliefs, which relate to the power of vibration and the mathematical design of all things within the universe. ‘The highest aim of our music is to reveal the essence of the universe it reflects…Thus, through music, one can reach God’.

This is a project that first took root in 2012, through a chance encounter with British conductor David Murphy, who at the time of meeting was in the midst of co-developing what would prove to be Shankar’s final endeavor- a groundbreaking opera dedicated to his wife Sukanya that fused both East and Western musical styles.

With this documentary we envisage a one-hour presenter-led film that retraces Shankar’s steps from his early childhood, growing up in the ancient city of Banares on the banks of the river Ganges, where his deep love of music and performance began. We follow his journey as he traveled to Europe with his brother Uday’s dance troupe and began to learn the art of showmanship at just eleven.

As the troupe grew more successful over the years, Shankar began to enjoy the luxuries that it provided to him. And so we discover how as a teenager, his focus on music and dance began to waver and he would spend ever more time chasing girls instead! It was fortunate then that Allauddin Khan, one of India’s most eminent musicians of the time should join the troupe. ‘Baba’ as he was known, did not shy away from criticising Shankar, ‘referring to him as a ‘butterfly’ for his fancy clothing and inability to maintain his focus on music.

After the troupe was disbanded, Shankar would later commit himself wholly to the sitar under Baba’s tuition. Now with a shaved head, simple clothes, and a bed of sticks to sleep on, he endured a grueling regime that began at 4 am, and it was not unheard of that might practice for up to sixteen hours in a day. It was this period of relentless devotion to music that enabled Shankar to develop into a legend, whose every improvisation on the sitar became effortless and whose performances have had a profound effect on many millions of people around the world.

‘Perhaps my playing does not cause rain to fall from the skies, but it has made tears fall from the eyes of my listeners’. The documentary is a celebration of Shankar’s life, but also an honest reflection of his character and personal struggles. We will set out to hear from those he met and inspired along the way, including Philip Glass and relatives of John Coltrane and George Harrison. It concludes with a glimpse of Shankar’s final endeavor, the opera ‘Sukayna’ which was sadly incomplete at the time of his death but was premiered at the Royal Opera House in London and is set
to continue touring beyond 2020.

As it stands, the film is in pre-production. Boxclever Media has held discussions with UK broadcasters to raise £80K, half of which has already been committed and the remainder must be sought by additional parties. If you would like to support the project please contact: luke.white@boxclever.media

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