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News |  16 Apr 2018 19:26 |  By RnMTeam

91st Birthday of living legend Vidushi Annapurna Devi

MUMBAI: Some are born artists, and Annapurna Devi is one of those. An innate musicality, aura of an enigma and genius unparalleled, born as Roshanara Khan to the father of Maihar Gharana, Baba Allauddin Khan, she was a prodigy from the word go.

Baba Allaunddin Khan who himself was known to be a master of several instruments, many of which were rare and most of them are extinct by now, identified traces of her talent. Initially reluctant, by observing her natural fair, he encouraged and taught her music. Her chosen medium for music was Surbahar, an instrument we barely experience now.

Despite having towering personalities in form of father Baba Allaunddin Khan, and brother Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Annapurna Devi shone like a bright star. This legendary story began when she was only 14; she got married to a young sitar player, who had come to her father to learn music. The young sitar player was none other than legendary Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar.  Upon marrying him, she converted herself to being a Hindu. The marriage survived for two decades and bore a son, Shubhendra Shankar. The couple together performed duets and enthralled audiences. However, later due to irrevocable differences, there was a discord, which led to a bitter separation.

Following the separation and trauma caused by it, Annapurna Devi vowed to never perform live on stage again. She has refused many prestigious invitations to perform, including those from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  This however, didn’t stop her music. It is under her tutelage stars like Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, her nephew Ustad Aashish Khan (Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s son) and her own son Shubhendra Shankar, who died a premature death. It is also said that few of her father’s students who couldn’t complete their training under Baba, were ably guided by her. This esteemed bracket includes names like Pandit Nikhil Banarjee.

It’s been a while, that audiences have had a chance to experience the surreal music. However, those who are still in the lingering experience.  So much is her performance rare, that to even have her recordings in your collectibles is considered a privilege.

Known to be a maverick teacher but a benevolent guru, her students lovingly address her as Maa and looked after her. She leads a recluse life today and had married the second time with her student Rooshikumar Paandya, with whom she stayed together, till he left the world in 2013. Annapurna Devi has been bestowed by laurels like Padmabhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, and Deshikottam

Known as the finest exponent of her instrument and sensitive musician, Annapurna Devi is as classical as it can be. The legend celebrates her 91st birthday today.  Names like her make India a richer country.