The Write Circle with Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma

Sunday started on a perfect note for Jaipur’s culture lovers. Santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma was in the city to talk about his book, Shiv Kumar Sharma The Man & His Music, edited by curator Ina Puri.

Prabha Khaitan Foundation, Siyahi and ITC Rajputana partnered together for this event. Shree Cement Limited is the main supporter behind this event.

Pandit Shiv Kumar held the audience captive with tales of his over 60-year-long career. When he began performing, he faced severe criticism from classical music connoisseurs. The santoor, they said, was not a complete instrument to play the nuances of Indian classical music. It had earlier been used more as an accompaniment, a part of the orchestra. Panditji reasoned that each instrument has its own character. He then began to work on developing the personality of the santoor, which took him 10-12 years. Gradually, several of his critics, including some acclaimed musicians, came to acknowledge the beauty of the santoor.

Panditji stresses on the importance of criticism in improving one’s craft. Even more important, he said, was self-criticism. It was essential that a musician not get carried away by praise. Critically assess your own work, examine it as you would the work of someone else and never stop learning, he advised.

Also accompanying the maestro was his Japanese student, Mr. Takahiro Arai. Intrigued by Pandit Shiv Kumar’s music, he came to India over seven years ago and stayed back to learn from Panditji.

Pandit Shiv Kumar has ably balanced composing music for movies along with flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, with his classical performances. While the Shiv-Hari team was responsible for bringing a Pahadi influence to Hindi film music, both musicians realised their hearts lay in classical music.

From his initial days in Jammu to his days of struggle in Mumbai, Pandit Shiv Kumar’s journey is an inspiring one. The book traces the musician’s journey in photographs, essays and interviews. It moves beyond being just a memoir or a coffee-table book. It’s a peek into the life of one of India’s greatest living musicians.