March 21, 2011 2:42:29 am
Violinist Gingger Shankar,the lesser-known daughter of L Subramaniam,on India and composing for world cinema
Gingger Shankar is not a name that music lovers in India are familiar with. On YouTube and MySpace videos,she appears as a thin Indian girl in black leather dress and black boots playing Carnatic classical music with a touch of western classical on a violin-like instrument. Google her and youd get a list of Hollywood films she has composed music for Mel Gibsons The Passion of the Christ and Mike Nichols Charlie Wilsons War among others. Yet,it was only when an Iranian indie film,Circumstance,won an award at the Sundance Festival in January in Utah,USA,that India became aware of music composer Shankar,the eldest of violin maestro L Subramaniams four children. Her mother was classical singer Viji Subramaniam and her uncle,the Grammy-nominated violinist Laxmi Shankar.
Subramaniam,however,has rarely spoken about this forgotten daughter. Question Shankar about her relationship with her fathers family and her three siblings,and she says,So many from my family are in the public eye,I prefer not to discuss them, she says.
Her forte is playing the double violin,an instrument that covers the whole orchestral range. There are only two of them in the world, she says. She has appeared at concerts with Peter Gabriel,Zakir Hussain and Smashing Pumpkins among others. But she has held only one performance,with percussionist Sivamani,in India.
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Over e-mail from Los Angeles,where she is based,Shankar,28,says,Unfortunately,I have not been to India for several years,but hope to be there by the end of 2011.
Her mother features predominantly in her conversations. My mother had everything to do with who I was and who I became as an artiste. I am my mothers daughter, says Shankar,who uses her mothers maiden name instead of her fathers equally famous one.
A pianist and opera singer,she calls The Passion of The Christ an education into film composing. Mel (Gibson) was very intense,but also entertaining, says Shankar,who based the music of the film on 75 ragas. She is currently wrapping up The Homecoming by Sean Hackett,and playwright Richard Montoyas next play and film.
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