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The art of uninterpreted sounds:Dil ka Sukoon!

May 11, 2022, 3:26 p.m. by Karuwaki Speaks ( 212 views)

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A pathbreaking artiste & visionary composer, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma was responsible for bringing the Santoor to the global centre stage.Santoor as an musical instrument had been an accompaniment for Sufiana mausiqi (music) for centuries. Panditji's long,arduous riyaz in the face of relentless critique entrenched the santoor firmly in the complex world of classical ragas, elevating the instrument’s profile and stature across the globe.

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He told TOI in 2002: "My story is different from other classical musicians. While they had to prove their mettle, their talent, their calibre, I had to prove the worth of my instrument. I had to fight for it". Pandit Shiv kumar Sharma began learning music from his father, classical vocalist Uma Dutt Sharma, who worked as a music supervisor at Radio Kashmir in Jammu.When Uma Dutt was transferred to Radio Kashmir, he introduced his teenage son to the little known santoor which used to be the accompanying instrument in dogri folk music.

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Critics initially dismissed the instrument as unsuitable for classical music but a determined Shivkumar Sharma tweaked the mechanics of the instrument, which originally had lightweight mezrab and the two sets of bridges, provided a limited range of three octaves. 

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My guruji Sri H.Chakroborty of Bishnupur gharana who was a purist sitar artiste just brushed aside this attempt contemptuously. Santoor is essentially a percussion instrument & can’t sustain the vibrations and so, there was no scope for meend & alaap.But the young musician experimented & modified the instrument to create a distinct character.

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His first national performance at the tender age of seventeen, was in Delhi and his innovative music impressed the legendary Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Vilayat Khan, Ravi Shankar, Amir Khan, Mushtaq Hussain, Omkarnath Thakur, Kesarbai Kerkar, Moghubai Kurdikar, Siddheshwari Devi amongst others.

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It was around the same time,Pandit Jasraj's wife Madhura ji recommended his name to filmmaker V Shantaram who asked him to play the santoor in Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955). The young Sharma reached Mumbai, with Rs 500 in his pocket and santoor in tow. He struggled for a few years before teaming up with flute exponent Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia & Pt.Kabra for an album, Call of the Valley (1967).

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This unique experiment between the santoor, flute & guitar created ripples in the world of music and ordinary music lovers enjoyed the jugalbandi between Pt.Sharma & Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia & Pandit Zakir Hussain in thousands of concerts. It's a known fact that When we're listening to music, we leave the realm of social conditioning and conscious thought behind and connect with our emotions. Pandit ji's stringed instrument would magically ‘transport’ his audience to a state of trance, amid lush green meadows, lofty mountains, majestic lakes and springs of Jammu & Kashmir.

Shiv-Hari, as they were called, composed music for at least eight Bollywood films, including Silsila, Chandni, Darr and Lamhe. At that time, everyone thought Yash Chopra was taking a big risk by signing classical musicians. "There is a difference between classical and film music. And it was a tremendous challenge to live up to," Shivkumar Sharma said at an event in 2013.

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Hemant Kumar (‘Bees Saal Baad’), Jaidev (‘Hum Dono’), SD Burman (‘Guide’) and RD Burman worked with the maestro who created magical compositions. Sharma received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, followed by the Padma Shri in 1991, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001.

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His Son & disciple, Rahul said "My father was my guruji. He is not with us anymore but his music lives on. He went away peacefully. He has given the entire world his music, peace through his music and what he did for santoor… It’s now known across the world. His music will always live on. He will be with us through his music."

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It was his grit & determination that made him and “Santoor” – a synonym to each other internationally and made J&K and Jammu, his home town in particular, very proud. It's an end of a musical era but his music lives on forever.


Comments (8)

user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 3 weeks ago
The maestro breathed soul into the santoor!
user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 2 weeks ago
So True

user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 3 weeks ago
He was a legend and displayed extraordinary skills with his unconventional instrument santoor, may his soul rest in peace.
user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 3 weeks ago
Rivetting reading about a legend whose Silsila music melts my pains often
user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 2 weeks ago
Very nice!
user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 2 weeks ago
During my student days used to listen a lot to him .Still many cassettes & CDs of different ragas on Santoor by him are lying where as cassette & CD players have now become obsolete but the music rendred in Santoor by him still enthralls the soul .The sound of Santoor is the most divine one, soothest of all , mostly like the piano in western classical music by Joseph Hayden,Beethoven , Mozart & Chopin. The similarities & beauty lies in the dramatic ups & downs of different scales and the use of nimble fingers intricately in playing the numbers . Dr Tadit.
user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 2 weeks ago
He and his teaming with Hari prasad ji and ustaad Zakir Hussain created magic. Ustaad Zakir saab lending his shoulder to his arthi is just heart rending, this is what India of yore is. Bidyut.
user
AnonymousUser 1 month, 1 week ago
Nice article.
user
AnonymousUser 1 week, 1 day ago
Very nicely described!