After ‘Shiraz’, keen to compose music for ‘modern ‘ films: Anoushka Shankar (IANS Interview)

New Delhi, May 1 : Anoushka Shankar's maiden project as a film music composer was unique. After scoring for the restored 1928 Indian silent period drama "Shiraz: A Romance of India", the British Indian sitar player is enthused about taking up more film projects, albeit with "modern" narratives and "normal conversations".

"I really loved getting to score my first film, and as everyone in the film would tell me, what I started with was especially challenging because it was a silent film.

So it was a real big project to take on.

"It was difficult, but I found it very fulfilling. I really look forward to hopefully doing more kind of modern films with normal conversations," Anoushka told IANS in an interview from Mumbai.

For the Grammy-nominated artiste, working on the music for Franz Osten's classic 17th century-set "Shiraz...", was a one-of-a-kind experience.

She conducted live scoring with an orchestral ensemble alongside the film's screening at four cities in India last year.

The London-based sitarist, daughter of the late globally-renowned sitar exponent Ravi Shankar, was in Mumbai last week for a "pit-stop".

She was waiting to get back home, to her two sons, after two months of being out for work.

Are her sons Zubin and Mohan, whom she had with her now-estranged husband, "Darkest Hour" director Joe Wright, inclined towards music?

"Well, they seem to be pretty musical and they seem to be interested in listening to all kinds of music.

My older boy has started doing piano and stuff like that... He is still not interested in the sitar... So we will have to see," Anoushka said.

There's a difference between the perception and reality as far as the youth being attracted to classical music in India is concerned.

Anoushka affirmed "Indian classical music has got a really strong audience whether in India or abroad".

"I think the perception (that classical music doesn't have an ample audience) is interesting because it's to do with popular culture.

When we look around the mainstream culture, it's easy to think that classical music doesn't have a strong audience because it's not really represented or reflected in our mainstream media and visible culture.

"You have to look elsewhere to see how many festivals, how many audience members there are.

And I think that's much more to do with the media and lack of representation for our classical arts..That needs to be looked at," she said.

Music can make a difference, believes Anoushka, whose last album "Land Of Gold", released in April 2016, was written in response to the refugee crisis.

"I think that we all have an opportunity of making a difference in our own fields and in our lives in whatever way we can, and one of those is through the arts.

I do think, on a more subtle and potentially spiritual level, music has the potential to make a positive difference in the world."

She does her own bit to make a difference to people's lives through social media, where she often shares life musings.

In an Instagram post last month, Anoushka, who split from Wright earlier this year, shared a post about first loves, heartbreaks and the lessons they teach.

Reflecting on it, she said: "I frequently share personal thoughts on social media and I am always very open.

Sometimes when I have a feeling, I think maybe there's something in it that may be helpful to somebody else.

So then I tend to share it. And it seemed like that was a case... a lot of people seemed to respond to, and have resonance with (that feeling or thought).

"I think that can be a really nice opportunity to connect with people and something that helps people engage with themselves.

I find it really interesting to connect with other human beings like that... It's an interesting part of being in a job that's rather public."

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at



Source: IANS