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Film Review: NARI: A Musician’s Moving Tribute to Her Lineage

In Sankrit, Nari means both woman and sacrifice. I can’t think of a word that better describe my mother, my grandmother and all the women that came before them.” – Artist Gingger Shankar

In a moving documentary featuring her mother Viji Shankar and grandmother Laxmi Shankar, double violinist Gingger Shankar unveiled her debut film NARI at the 3rd i South Asian Film Festival in San Francisco.

Calling attention to Gingger’s mother’s curtailed dream of becoming a musician due to the pressure of taking on a more traditional role – in addition to an unforeseen illness claiming her mother’s life at an early age – the film was a poignant tribute to stories untold by the generations of women before her.

Gingger’s grandmother, Laxmi Shankar, was also a famous Hindustani vocalist and renowned dancer, who performed alongside Ravi Shankar at a critical time when musicians from the East and West were starting to cross-collaborate in the 1960’s. However, as Ravi Shankar’s fame in the West became increasingly distinguishable, her grandmother’s visibility in the music world slowly faded into the background.

The film uses a combination of stunning old photographs, graphic animation, and old videos with a live narration by Gingger Shankar herself to tell the untold story of these two women who not only influenced Gingger’s love of music, but who also had their own incredible, and somewhat overlooked, stories.

In what was probably the most moving part of the evening, Gingger followed the film with a performance of her playing double violin overlayed with her deceased mother’s unreleased vocals. The performance was beautiful and bittersweet ode to her mother and the sacrifices she made for her children. The bond of these three generations was felt by way of a shared love of music, and this film was a powerful display of how one passion transcended three generations and several cultural boundaries.

To learn more about the film, visit the NARI website or watch Gingger Shankar’s TED talk

Image Source: Wikipedia

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