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Anoushka Shankar talks with The Hindu about de-exotifying the sitar

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The Hindu's Sweta Akundi writes......Anouska Shankar has never shied away from talking about abuse. Four years before the MeToo movement took hold globally, in 2013, the sitar exponent revealed that she had been sexually abused as a child. So in a way, her latest song, Sister Susannah has been years in the making.

Written by poet Nikita Gill, and recited in spoken word by Anoushka over loops of the sitar, the track is a satirical take from the point of view of a controlling man. "It creates this tension in the song, which I hope will broaden the conversation around abuse and violence," says Anoushka, over a call from her home in London, where she is waiting out the pandemic with her two sons.

‘"Sister Susannah' is a song I have toyed with for some time, and the current situation, alongside people's visceral reactions to our rare live performances of the song, prompted me to revisit and release it," she says.

The "‘current situation" is what she calls a shadow pandemic of domestic violence and abuse, proven by the rising number of calls made to women helplines in the UK, US and India in the past year of lockdowns.

In ‘Sister Susannah', Anoushka is creating the same space that we found in her previous album, Love Letters, with collaborations with many of the same women musicians and producers, including Alev Lenz. The track, with a few other unreleased singles and remixes, will be included in an extension of the album, called, Love Letters PS, to be released this June.