Composer and santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma is no more. He was 84. Reportedly, he had been suffering from kidney-related issues for the last six months and was on dialysis. He passed away yesterday due to cardiac arrest, say reports. He is survived by wife Manorama Sharma and sons Rahul and Rohit Sharma.
The veteran gave the santoor global recognition. He was one half of the composer duo Shiv-Hari and composed music with flute legend Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia for films such as Silsila (1981), Lamhe (1991) and Chandni (1989), among others. He was conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, Padma Shri in 1991, and Padma Vibhushan in 2001.
In an interview with HT in 2013, the late veteran spoke to us about the bond he shared with his children – his santoor and son Rahul Sharma.
On bond with the santoor:
“My father and guru Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma introduced me to the santoor. This instrument is the medium of expressing my feelings through melody and rhythm. After playing it for six decades, it has become my companion in my musical journey. Santoor was never a part of the Indian classical genre; it was only limited to Sufi music in Kashmir. But I modified the instrument to bring it on a par with the sitar and sarod. Once, during a performance in the 1960s with Brij Bhushan Kabra in Ahmedabad, my santoor sustained a crack. But surprisingly, after I got it repaired, it sounded better than before. I’m so possessive about my santoor that I rarely allow anybody to carry it. I care for it like my own child.”
On bond with son, musician Rahul Sharma:
“Rahul and I share a duel relationship — he is my son and disciple. He was introduced to music not very early in his childhood. So initially, it was difficult for both of us to handle our relationship. It took some time for him to understand that the two bonds are very different, but now, we are quite comfortable. Since he is into fusion music as well, as a guru, I just ensure that he maintains the pure character of Indian classical music.”
Tributes pour in from the industry:
It’s a really sad day. Shivkumar ji was a world class musician. He was a brilliant artiste and a very soft spoken and down-to-earth person. I sang one song for him in Darr (1993) called Ang Se Ang Lagana. He was a thorough gentleman, who would always love and bless me. It’s a huge loss to the world of music.
Pandit Shivkumar Sharma ji ka jaana sangeet jagat ke liye bahut badi haani hai. He took the santoor, a folk instrument from Jammu & Kashmir, to a global level. His work was exemplary. Unhone jo sangeet ke liye kiya, woh koi aur kar hi nahin sakta. He was an amazing musician and human being. People would see Lord Krishna’s chhavi in him. He will be truly missed.
We have lost one of the most iconic musicians of the country. He brought the santoor to a great level in classical music and to play so many ragas with it was magical, something only he could do. He literally made the instrument sing. He and Hari ji (Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia) gave me a lot of songs in films, including Lamhe (1991). I was really close to him. I used to perform at mehfils at his home. When we met, we would discuss about ghazals and other genres, too. He was so kind that he also played for some of my ghazal albums. I can never repay him for what he’s done for me. For me, it’s a personal loss.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
The passing away of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma ji marks the end of an era. He was the pioneer of santoor and his contribution is unparalleled. For me, it’s a personal loss and I will miss him no end. May his soul rest in peace. His music lives on forever. Om Shanti.