Born into a Brahmin family in 1926, the young Lakshmi Shankar stunned her family when she chose to train as a dancer. Her skills brought her success and forestalled social criticism: she became a member of the dance troupe of Uday Shankar (Ravi's older brother) and achieved critical success until a prolonged bout of pleurisy left her unable to dance. Devastated, Shankar threw herself into studies of vocal Hindustani classical music (she'd already studied Carnatic music) and ended up working with the greats, including Pandit Ravi Shankar himself. Though she briefly sang playback in Bollywood, Shankar preferred bhajans and traditional classical music. Renowned for her tone and precise vocalizations, Shankar has continued performing into her ninth decade.