This week’s CineCulture presentation is something quite unusual. Nari is a global, multi-generational, multimedia live performance conceived by Gingger Shankar (ginggershankar.com/).
Shankar has made a name for herself in U.S. music scenes by scoring the Oscar-nominated “The Passion of the Christ” and performing with rock bands such as the Smashing Pumpkins. But her musical heritage ties her to a significant, well-known Indian family.
Shankar is grand-niece to renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar, and the eldest daughter of violinist Dr. L. Subramanian. Nari documents the unsung story of Shankar’s mother and grandmother – Viji and Lakshmi Shankar.
Viji and Lakshmi were two extraordinary artists who helped bring Indian music to the West in the 1970s through their close collaborations with Ravi Shankar and Beatles member George Harrison.
Nari will blend live music by Shankar, drummer Carlo Ribaux, percussion by Pirashanna Thevarajah and multi-instrumentalist Vivek Maddala with animation by Indian contemporary artist Loren Schneider, documentary footage and family photos in a performance at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Peters Educations Center Auditorium at Fresno State.
This performance is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Design in the College of Arts and Humanities. Art Professor Joan Sharma has helped co-ordinate the event.
Sharma said Shankar’s performance incorporates a blend of hip-hop and high energy solos with classical Hindustani music. Shankar will also play a double violin during the performance, a rare musical instrument that covers an entire orchestral range. Sharma said there are only two of this instrument in the world, and Shankar is the only woman who plays it.
In Sanskrit, Nari means both “woman” and “sacrifice.” As two female artists who grew up in a patriarchal society and tried to establish themselves in a male-dominated field, Lakshmi and Viji fought to overcome numerous challenges in both their artistic and personal lives as they were catapulted from conservative Indian culture into the stratosphere of American rock ‘n’ roll.
When Lakshmi and Viji came to the U.S. for a concert tour with Ravi Shankar, they performed 70 concerts in 68 days and visited all 50 states between August 1974 and January 1975, Sharma said. During the tour, Ravi Shankar suffered a heart attack and missed nine concerts – Lakshmi took over the conducting duties during Ravi’s absence.
This New York Times article gives a glimpse into the world the women lived in.
Conceptualized in early 2013 and followed by recordings and filming in India, the UK, and the US, Nari premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, and had its U.S. Premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Following the performance, Shankar will discuss the program.
Shankar’s music can be heard here.
All CineCulture films screened on campus are free and open to the public. Parking is free on weekends, beginning at 4 p.m. on Fridays.
See original CineCulture press release.