Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, known for his iconic Hindustani classical pieces and seminal Bollywood tracks, succumbed to a cardiac arrest in Mumbai on Tuesday morning. He was 84.
The legendary santoor player was suffering kidney-related health concerns and had spent years in dialysis before breathing his last.
Hailing from Jammu, Sharma’s journey to the heights of Indian classical music were incredibly humble. He once went on record with DNA, sharing his story of poor beginnings as he struggled to make a living in Mumbai back in the 1950s:
“I remember going around looking for work. There were days when I had only an anna in my pocket and nothing to eat. I’d play the tabla to accompany others. Concerts were hard to come by because of the negative criticism of the santoor. The odd film assignments helped sustain me.”
Sharma, who began his training in santoor at the age of 13, was one of the earliest popular proponents of the instrument. By the 1960s, he had already begun to influence the modern age of Bollywood music, crafting the iconic sounds from the ’70s-’90s. This led to an impressive portfolio of work that earned him several awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, the Padma Shri in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001.
Perhaps the longest-enduring cultural legacy of Sharma is his work for Yash Chopra’s films, in which he collaborated with renowned flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia. The ‘Shiv-Hari’ duo lent their talents to several iconic Chopra productions from 1981’s Silsila to 1991’s Lamhe and 1993’s Darr, and delivered some of the biggest hits.
The news of his demise invoked a wave of mourning for the man and a remembrance for these compositions. Prime Minister Modi shared a tweet honoring the man and his memory:
Several other Indian icons offered their condolences:
Sharma is survived by his wife Manorama and his sons Rahul, a noted award-winning santoor player and Rohit, a Bollywood executive.
(Featured Image Credits: Konya Mystic Music Festival)