BANGALORE: It is rare for the biography of a musician to span diverse genres, but then Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma is no ordinary musician. From jamming with R D Burman in his studios to composing film music with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia to keeping santoor alive in popular memory, he has mastered popular as well as classical idioms effortlessly. The story of his life too must then reflect his many facets. Shiv Kumar Sharma-The Man and His Music, (Edited by Ina Puri) was released this year and expectedly did not have just one author, but three trying to encapsulate his journey.
The book features Ina Puri’s conversations with Panditji and also two essays by Pandit Vijay Kichlu and film historian Manek Premchand. While Kichlu has tried to sum up the maestro’s classical virtuosity, Premchand has written about his work as a film composer and as an instrumentalist. In a chat with City Express, the author reveals little known facts about Shiv Kumar Sharma.
I have known Shivji for about over a decade now. He has many outstanding qualities. Apart from being an ace santoor musician, and wonderful composer, that is. He has a very evolved sense of humour. He is a wonderful conversationalist and an equally great listener. And he deals with a lot of idiots with patience. I attribute that to his meditation, which he does regularly.
When Shivji first came to Mumbai in 1959, he was broke and spent a few weeks in Kashmir Hotel opposite Metro cinema. Those were the days of intense struggle for him. Then, 22 years later, when Yash Chopra’s Silsila (for which he had composed the music) was released, it was premiered at the same Metro cinema. Shivji remembered this at the premiere, wistfully standing and looking at the decrepit hotel.
Not many people know how Shivji’s santoor brought to life many film melodies. Hemant Kumar was delighted with the rewards that Shivji’s santoor brought him, when he made Lata sing Sapne suhaane ladakpan ke in Bees Saal Baad (1962). The same year, Asha Bhosle kept up with Shivji’s santoor and its mischievous ripples in Meri jaan o meri jaan achha nahin itna sitam, a Hemant Kumar tune for Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Shivji played once more for Hemant in the Lata-rendered Zindagi kitni khubsurat hai, in Bin Badal Barsaat in 1963.
A well-known filmmaker even offered the dashing Shivji, a lead role. The story was going to be centred around a santoor player. He asked, “So what do you say, young man?”
Shivji’s answer was, “No, thank you sir!” And that is how we lost out on another role that could have been played by this gifted man.