Annapurna Devi – The Pink Star Lost To The World
Born as Roshanara Khan, she was one of the daughters (the other 2 being – Jahanara and Sharija and brother Ustad Ali Akbar Khan) of Ustad Alauddin Khan. Her talent was discovered by her father when once while playing hopsctoch at her home, she started singing his music lessons perfectly, correcting her younger brother Ali Akbar Khan who was practising. Since then, her father started teaching her classical vocal music, Sitar, and Surbahar. She not only accomplished the skill but gained mastery over it.
Hindustani classical music lost another of its rare gems in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Annapurna Devi, a genius Surbahar and Sitar exponent passed away this morning. She was 92. Daughter of Ustad Allauddin Khan, sister of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and first wife of Pandit Ravi Shankar (divorced), she was one of the greatest artist that ever happened to the music scenario in Hindustani classical genre. Even so her name remains unestablished in the list of celebrated exponents of the field. She exiled herself from the world thanks to the differences with her then husband Pandit Ravi Shankar. She was easily above all when it came to playing surbahar or sitar. She just excelled and surpassed even her husband giving way to insecurities and ego fights. A classic case of the movie Abhimaan (1973).
Annapurna Devi was born in 1926 at Maihar, a small princely state of British India, where her esteemed father Ustad Alauddin Khan was a royal court musician. She represented a family of great tradition of Hindustani classical music. Her uncles Fakir Aftabuddin Khan and Ustad Ayet Ali Khan were revered musicians at their native place Shibpur in Bangladesh while her brother Ustad Ali Akbar Khan is considered as one of the greatest sarod maestros. She herself created musicians like Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur, Nikhil Banerjee, Amit Roy, Basant Kabra and many more who were her students. Her music remained hidden to the world. Following differences with Pandit Ravi Shankar, she took a vow of not performing in public. Her life became a ‘no entry zone’ for rest of the world. Despite having the extraordinary talent, her doors remained closed to the world. She was like the mysterious river Saraswati, which is said to be present in its metaphysical form at the triveni confluence or like the rare Pink Star, one of the most expensive and treasured diamonds in the world. Sadly, this Pink Star, chose to live a reclusive life. The Pink Star which now will remain beyond the skies and yet will shine bright.