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‘He was a true maestro’: Tributes pour in for santoor legend Pandit Shivkumar Sharma

Sharing the unseen facets of the musician, Ina Puri, his biographer, said, "He had so much scholarly knowledge but he wore it lightly. He was a wonderful company and had a great sense of humour."

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
May 10, 2022 6:20:10 pm
shivkumar sharmaPt Shivkumar Sharma performing Santoor at a classical music festival. (Express Archive)

Renowned santoor player and celebrated musician Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, who took the folk instrument to the global stage, breathed his last in Mumbai today. He was the recipient of the Padma Shri in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001.

“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,” Rahul Sharma told media.

He added that the musician was suffering from age-related issues. “He was 83. We had done a concert together 15 days ago, everything was fine. He passed away peacefully.”

Write, art curator and documentarian Ina Puri, his biographer, recalled her long association with the music maestro and said, “It’s unbelievable. I am still hoping and praying it’s not true. I’ve known him since the early 90s. He had commissioned me to do his memoir which we wrote jointly, Journey with a Hundred Strings: My Life in Music. Since then, there has been an association. We have worked together. I have documented his life in the pages of the book as well as in the documentary directed by Jabbar Patel.”

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Ina Puri with Pandit Shivkumar Sharma at the launch of ‘Journey with a Hundred Strings’ in Mumbai. (Photo: Ina Puri)

“Following his music and knowing about his journey, which began with an instrument that very few people had even heard of, have been a great honour. To know such a luminary and to have worked with him – I am so grateful and I have no words. On the stage, Shiv Ji was like a man who was blessed with divinity when he performed. I have seen him right from Kolkata, which was his favourite city to perform in, to London, Mumbai and other places.”

Sharing the unseen facets of the musician, Puri told indianexpress.com, “He had so much scholarly knowledge but he wore it lightly. He was a wonderful company and had a great sense of humour. All the memories come back now – his love for jokes, mimicry, and good food. He was also a great cricket fan. The other side of Shiv Ji, which I had the privilege of knowing, was his wife, family.”

Santoor player Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. (Express archive photo)

Calling him “a true maestro”, she added, “It is a great loss. There’s no word to describe what a great person he was. He often spoke of the fact that doctors told him that when they operated sometimes on some serious cases, they would play the santoor from his concert. It gave them solace as they perform those procedures. Santoor today is part of world music because of him. What a great achievement this has been.”

Acclaimed sarod maestro and composer Ustad Amjad Ali Khan took to Twitter to mourn the demise. “The passing away of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharmaji 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,” he tweeted.

Art historian Dr Alka Pande highlighted his immense contribution to bringing santoor to the world stage. “Yet another of the masters passes away. He brought in so much attention to santoor and brought it into the mainline instrumental music. He was a very attractive performer who was committed to his practice.”

While Pande expressed her condolences on his demise, she expressed her pleasure in the fact that Sharma’s legacy will continue through his son, Rahul Sharma, who is also a santoor player. “He has nurtured another promising artist. We are all very saddened at the demise of the great artist but such is the circle of life. It’s heartening to note that his legacy will live through his own son,” she told indianexpress.com.

Grammy Award-winning Indian music composer Ricky Kej said he was “devastated by the passing of musical legend Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shivkumar Sharma ji”.

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