Known for his unique collaborations with many international musicians, Rahul Sharma needs no introduction. In two decades, his alliance with French pianist Richard Clayderman, keyboardist Kersi Lord, renowned Grammy awardee saxophonist Kenny G, and international musician Eric Mouquet, has earned him recognition as a niche Santoor player in the music world. The son of veteran music maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Rahul has grown up learning music from his father, and apart from the familial bond, he also shares a guru-shishya relationship with him. Perhaps that’s the reason Rahul excels in his work and is innovative. “It comes with a responsibility, but that’s a good burden to carry. It makes me stand out from the crowd,” he says. In a recent concert, he combined his talent with noted Kashmiri folk singer Gulzar Ganie and introduced audiences to music from the valley.
While growing up, like any other child, his father was his role model but as he grew older, he realised what his identity is and figured out what he wanted to do. Rahul agrees on inheriting certain characteristics from his father such as his calm demeanour, persistence and connection with music. “Having learnt formally under my father, I had the guide and example to follow,” he recalls.
Over the years, Rahul has experimented with different musical forms and is known for his fusion music, that wasn’t associated with Santoor earlier, but it worked pretty well for him, “It’s like the gamble paid off,” quips the musician. Out of the 60-odd CDs he has released, half of them are classical and the rest are thematic and fusion. “As long as I enjoy and reach out to a newer audience and get a positive feedback, I am happy,” flaunts the musician.
When asked if blending classical and Western helps music get a wider acceptance, the musician denies the popular opinion, saying, “It’s not necessary, but it’s up to the artist to use his imagination and be creative, and then the compositions become hits.” Insisting that every year there is new talent coming in with new audiences, he says, “It is important to have improvisations and different music to keep the graph rising with some iconic musicians.”
With his global travels and learning experiences, Rahul finds his journey full of experiments and exchanges with musicians across the globe. And for him, performing in India and abroad has a huge difference. According to the musician, audiences abroad connect with music more in a meditative way, “The number of women in the audience is huge and they have a different perception to our music,” he confirms. Adding that in India, people understand the intricacies of music and tend to understand nuances, “The audience is more mature in India for classical music.”
Though not many associate him with Bollywood, Rahul did have a brief journey with Bollywood when he composed some melodies for the film Mujhse Dosti Karoge. However, he bid goodbye to film industry considering the fact that it’s very time consuming, “I had to give up on many projects when I was working for the film’s music, and my priority is always the Santoor, so I am happy with performing than composing music for films,” he signs off....