Recently was I hoping to watch Rahul Sharma, the Santoorist from the Sharma family of Kashmir, live in concert & then were the paper ad going around of BIAF-Bangalore International Arts Festival. There I saw the schedule with a few people like Raghu Dixit and the violinist Dr.Subramaniam. Nothing that great that would make me go watch it.

But the last name caught my eye. RAHUL SHARMA. The last act on the BIAF schedule. I knew some one was listening when I wished to attend a concert of his. To top it all, the venue was the closet that I could have too.

It was all how I would have wanted. But lunch at KFC, the “krusher” ; which lived up to its name when it came to my throat. I was sick. Fever and body ache. It wasn’t even close to breaking my spirit to be there to listen to the santoor on the 19th of September.Few disprins for a couple of days did it all. I was back to my normal self just so that I could enjoy every moment of the concert comfortably.

Come the evening of 19th September,chaos in the house when I told my family that I would be going alone to the concert. After a lot of discussions my mother agreed to accompany me. Recently turned fan of santoor, my father was busy with work and couldn’t come along & my sister needed to ‘take care’ of the house. We reach the venue and after a few minutes get a call from my sister saying that even they were going to come. I was glad; more than happy; I knew what was going to come.

A few of those long speeches by the organisers and the first act of the evening was a indo-western fusion of dance. It was an excellent display of  few Indian dance forms and some Salsa and contemporary form. The doll dance was the highlight of this act. At then end of it all the performers performed together, right at the centre of the stage; which was very good to watch.

This followed with more boring speeches, which even put-off  Rahul Sharma in his purple kurta. He was accompanied by his troupe: tabla, drums and a keyboard. They started off with “Chase”, a number from the album “Confluence” by Rahul Sharma and Richard Clayderman, the pianist.

The feel of santoor was amazing, to have heard it live & that too by one of the Sharmas. After that my memory just fades. I was lost. Lost in the beats, notes, tunes( I don’t remember) of the santoor and the other instruments. It was as though I was there but my soul took a fantasy ride on the music. I could see but not feel. MUSIC was to be felt and nothing else.

Just then something happened to get me back and from then on I have a few memories. The Santoor kept playing the same notes and then the tabla and the drums had a small jugalbandi, which was one of the best I have heard till date. It was so good that the audience kept applauding in the middle of  the performance.

The santoor forms the majority of my memories. The constant playing of the same note without it being monotonous, the echoing effect of the santoor, the changes in the tempo, a “jazz” number(of which the jugalbandi was a part), those two little stick like things Rahul Sharma held in his hand to play the santoor, just tapping of the strings to make an amazingly sounding music.

From now on whenever will I listen to Rahul Sharma, I am surely going to remember two very distinct facial expressions of his when he plays the santoor. One being: He looks  up to the sky, eyes closed feeling happy about the music and the other one: showing the pleasure on listening the other instruments tilting his head to the right.

The most distinct thing I noticed that whoever was playing on the stage, the santoorist, the tabla, the drummer or the keyboardist, all of they were so happy to be doing that. Happy to be listening to the other instruments and contributing to it too.

This little experience has made me love the SANTOOR even more and hope to be somewhere again to have such an experience.

One Response to “Man with the Santoor”

  1. Swagata Chowdhury Says:

    i agree…santoor is the sweetest sounding instrument…never gotta chance to hear it live but its my heart desire to see Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain in a jugal bandi together…have heard them on TV though and they really were excellent..


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