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Legends-in-arms

Classical music maestros Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, in a jugalbandi with Nikhil Taneja about their joint projects over the last fifty years!

music Updated: Feb 27, 2009 19:50 IST
Nikhil Taneja

Classical music maestros Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, in a jugalbandi with

Nikhil Taneja.

You have been collaborating for over 50 years. How do you approach a concert now?


Pt Chaurasia:

(Laughs) That’s a secret! See, we are already tuned from inside.. we both know what the other is going to play next. It all depends on the concert’s duration and mood.


Pt Sharma:

There are no rehearsals. Music comes from the bond and understanding between two musicians. If there is no depth in your relationship, there won’t be any in your music. For example, I’ll be meeting him straight at the auditorium now and we will take five minutes to discuss what to play.



Did you collaborate because the sounds of the flute and santoor gel well, or because of your bonding?
Pt Chaurasia:

It doesn’t depend on the instrument. If we are to paint a hall, he and I can’t paint it different.


Pt Sharma:

I would say it’s both the factors. The santoor and flute can be played simultaneously without disturbing each other and also because Hariji and I share a very long and close friendship. Jugalbandis fail when there is one-upmanship. Music is all about love, harmony and affection.. that’s what our music represents.



Tell us one thing about each other that the world doesn’t know.


Pt Sharma:

Hariji has a tremendous sense of humour. He’s great company. Sometimes, we may be waiting for a flight and if he sees someone who resembles a friend, his imagination starts working. His anecdotes are very interesting!


Pt Chaurasia

: Pt Sharma behaves like a very serious man, but he’s not. He’s a very jolly person. He’s also very kind-hearted.



Why don’t you compose for films anymore?


Pt Sharma:

We got busier and a time came when it was not practical to sit together and compose. We may still do a film which gives us ample scope.. any genre that has a vast canvas and could cover classical, folk and modern music.


Pt Chaurasia:

This is just a short break we have taken. If we get a good musical movie, we will definitely compose again. But nobody should approach us for action movies and their like.



Are you proud of the awards Zakir Hussain and A R Rahman have got?


Pt Chaurasia:

I feel very sorry for the media. We have been composing all kinds of music since 60 years, our album Call of the Valley (1967) is still selling like hot cakes, yet, we are far from getting these ‘celebrity awards’. What is the criteria of these awards? What should we do to get recognised now? People know our music the world over, and yet there is no Grammy or Oscar for us.


Pt Sharma:

Those are Hariji’s personal feelings. I feel that if any Indian gets recognition, it’s a matter of pride. There is a terminology in tabla called tihai.. something you play three times. I had predicted that Zakir Hussain will do a tihai at the Grammies. He and Rahman have made us proud. It’s good for the music of India.



Hariji, do you feel the Padma Vibhushan honour came too late?
Pt Chaurasia:

It’s not that we are jealous or suffering. We get awards at every concert when the audience appreciates our music. But the media values celebrity awards more. They may not know a Bharat Ratna, but they know the Grammy Award. I want them to explain to me what is important and what isn’t. If we are not associated with a particular film or aren’t from a particular company, does that mean we won’t be recognized?



Do you think upcoming classical musicians would be able to live up to your legacy?


Pt Sharma:

Definitely.. I believe that nobody can say, ‘I’m the last one.’ For example, I’ve focused all my life on putting the santoor where it is, but if I see my own home, Rahul has taken it to areas I didn’t attempt. Who knew the santoor and piano can sound so good together.. Rahul collaborated with Richard Clayderman for it.


Pt Chaurasia:

Of course, they can. It’s easier for them to become big names now. In our time, there was no sponsorship, no government support and no corporates. Now the support has increased a lot.