February 27, 2003 11:00 AM

Thrust into the news for her five Grammy wins Sunday night, singer Norah Jones is now making headlines in her personal life, regarding her father, Ravi Shankar, the 82-year-old classical Indian sitar player and composer who influenced musicians from George Harrison to Yehudi Menuhin.

Denying newspaper reports that there is a rift between them, Shankar tells Britain’s Guardian newspaper “there is no rift between us (and) we are the best of friends.”

The stories about probable tension between father and daughter arose after Jones, 23, made no mention of her father during her Grammy acceptance speech — despite effusively praising her mother, Sue Jones, a ’70s concert producer with whom Shankar had a long relationship.

Jones also was reported to have said that she didn’t care to wear a good luck charm that he had sent her.

Shankar tells the Guardian that he had not been able to speak to his daughter after she got the awards, but that he had sent her a congratulatory e-mail and left her a message. (Shankar reportedly resides in both California and India. Jones lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Shankar dismissed stories of a rift.

“But the truth is just that I lost her for nearly 10 years. I couldn’t find her when her mother moved away, and Sue didn’t want me to be in touch with her. But we are the best of friends now. She is an adoring big sister to (my younger daughter) Anoushka. She is my daughter and I love her,” he said.

This is in contrast with the way their relations have been portrayed in the media. Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Jones was shattered at a young age when her father left home to marry another woman, and that Shankar first saw her perform only 11 months ago.

But in the Guardian, Shankar — who has won three Grammys himself — said that although he never gave his daughter any music lessons, he saw her “all the time” until she was 8 1/2 years old.

“Then her mother moved away with her, and I didn’t see her again for almost seven years,” he said. “From the time she turned 18, however, we have been meeting regularly.”

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