Being a legendary artiste’s son can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It may be easier to take up your famous parent’s profession, but the comparisons can last a lifetime.
While it chokes some, it makes some thrive. It’s safe to say that, at 42, Rahul Sharma has more than created an identity for himself — through international collaborations, and a sound truly his own — beyond the shadow of his father, Pt Shivkumar Sharma.
We speak to him, post his performance, at the Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival, in Chattisgarh.
You’ve worked with legends like Richard Clayderman (French pianist) and Kenny G (jazz saxophonist). They aren’t the most obvious collaborations for a santoor player.
I’ve always felt that the santoor can blend in with different genres of music. Personally, when I collaborate, I enjoy more if I’m a fan of the artiste I’m working with. Whether it was Kenny G or Richard Clayderman, I enjoyed their music, so it was an honour to not only collaborate, but also compose entire albums with them. In fact, my latest project was with Grammy-winning electronica group, Deep Forest, which again took the santoor into a different space. I would also love to work with Sting and U2.
There’s a vibrant indie music scene in India now. How do you see it?
The music scene is constantly changing; it’s like cricket changed from Tests to One Days to T20. The content remains the same, but some take short-cuts and some offer new packaging; but someone who has patience will always exist. There are so many music festivals supporting different genres today. But one can’t become a musician overnight, or a musician can’t build his career with one hit album or one hit track. That kind of success is short-lived.
You composed for the film, Mujhse Dosti Karoge (MDK), in 2002. But you stopped composing for movies post that. Why is that?
Films were never a priority. Composing for films is teamwork, and the director’s word is final. Also, it’s time-consuming. Nevertheless, I enjoyed doing the film (MDK), and was honoured to have Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle sing my compositions. I received offers after that, but I was not interested. I couldn’t neglect the santoor.
What are the advantages of being Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma’s son?
There are advantages and disadvantages. That’s how life is, when one sets out in one’s career. My father is the pioneer of the santoor, and I, being the torch-bearer, have to take it in new directions.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I admire (late) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and I am deeply inspired by my father, of course, and artistes like Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pink Floyd and The Beatles.