His is a relatively young career spanning 15 years, but santoor player Rahul Sharma has already managed the remarkable feat of releasing 50 albums. His landmark 50th album, Rainchanted, which is an ode to the monsoons, launched last week.
Says Sharma, “I didn’t plan which album’s going to be my 50th one. My collaboration with Kenny G was supposed to come out after my 49th album but when Ninaad Music came to me with the idea of composing an album based on the monsoons, I really loved the idea.
“To compose this album, I took inspiration from some of my favourite childhood moments like getting wet in the rain singing RD Burman songs, having a ‘bhutta’ and wearing boots and jumping in the puddles. There’s a sense of nostalgia that surrounds the season.
The musician, who has inherited the santoor’s legacy from his father, legendary santoor player Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma, finds it easier to compose music during the rains. “The monsoons are inspiring in a lot of ways,” says Sharma. “Sitting by the window, looking at the beautiful view of the sea makes composing music all the more beautiful.
Connected to nature
“Also, the santoor is reminiscent of water to me. The instrument’s tonal quality is similar to cascading water. So the santoor is connected to nature, in that sense.”
This inspired feeling has led to the creation of the song Santoorain on the album, which overdubs the sounds of the santoor on each other so that it sounds like rain. There are also songs called Africa, Amazon and Marooned, which are based on Sharma’s memories of watching rain in the wild, and the emotions he went through at the time.
“There’s also a song inspired by sitting at Bandstand, sipping cappuccino in a coffee shop opposite it,” smiles Sharma.
“The song, ‘Raindrops ‘n’ coffee’ represents the Mumbai moment.”
Although the album is instrumental, Sharma himself has done all the backing vocals on it. “I don’t think I sing that well and don’t want to torture my listeners by singing full songs,” he jokes. “That’s why I’ve only done backing vocals on the album.”