Tribute to Magician of Strings

Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, who exalted the santoor, who reshaped the personality and identity of santoor, who composed a bunch of dulcet melodies in tandem with renowned flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia in Yash Chopra’s excellent film Silsila (musician Shiv-Hari), passed away following the heart attack in Mumbai. He was 84 .

Once he told, — 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, Santoor.

Sharma began learning music from his father, classical vocalist Uma Dutt Sharma, who worked as a music supervisor at Radio Kashmir in Jammu. The young Sharma was, however, soon drawn to the tabla and learnt the basics from his father and began accompanying in the children’s programs at the radio station when he was about eight.

But the notes changed when he was 13 after, his father brought a gift from Srinagar. I tore at the wrapping paper eagerly, expecting a game or something else as exciting, but the box held a strange-looking musical instrument which I had not seen before, and that is how I was introduced to the santoor.

Actually, his father wanted to play this instrument. At that time, the santoor was used only in Sufiana music in a small pocket in Kashmir. No other part of India had ever seen it.

Yet , Sharma stuck to the instrument, literally nurturing the instrument in his lap.  In 1955, his first national performance was in Mumbai, with the icons of classical music –  Bade Ghulam Ali Khan,  Vilayat Khan, Pt Ravi Shankar,  among  others .  He  was just 17, but he made an impact .  

It was around the same time that filmmaker V Shantaram asked him to play the santoor in Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955). Sharma composed a piece that featured Kathak dancer Gopi Krishna in a seminal dance section from the film.

Much against his father’s wishes, he came to Mumbai in 1960, hoping to build a career as a freelance musician. Over the years, his services were utilized by top Hindi film musicians, including Hemant Kumar ( Bees Saal Baad)  Jaidev (hum Dono) S D Burman (Guide), and RD Burman.

Tribute to Santoor Maestro Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma
  • Call of the valley” was released in 1967. The LP record, put together by a trio of Sharma, flautist Hariprasad Chourasia and guitarist B B Kabra .That album became the milestone in their career.
  • It was a unique experiment because the santoor and flute, two folk instruments considered lower down in the pecking order of classical music, were playing raagdaari and hitting it out of the park.
  • Offers from filmmakers followed, leading the two to team up as Shiv-Hari and compose music for films such as Silsila (1981), Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989) and Lamhe (1991).
  • That the two had internalized the idiom of Hindi film music was the most evident in Darr(1993) where they delivered a score that fused seamlessly with the demands of a thriller.
  • Among others. The two were to perform a jugalbandi concert this month at Bhopal’s Bharat Bhawan in what was being called as a reunion…
  • Shiv Kumar Sharma is born into music – the son of Jammu based musician Pt. Uma Dutt Sharma of Benaras Gharana.
  • Sharma receives the Sangeet Natak Academic award in 1986, Padam shri in 1991, Padam Vibhushan in 2001.

“The passing away of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma marks the end of an era. He was the pioneer of Santoor and his contribution was unparalleled. We will miss him.

May his soul rest in peace. His music lives on forever! Om Shanti.

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Categories: infotainment

4 replies

  1. Yes I too heard about him and also watched his santoor concerts in tv

    Liked by 1 person

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