It’s a cool Saturday evening. Everyone’s dressed up and queuing outside the venue. A group of six are rushing at the last minute to purchase passes for the show. It’s a brilliant turnout for the evening — an eclectic mix of the young and the old, traditional and funky. Life-sized cutouts of the artistes adorn the lobby of the auditorium along with a beautiful display of their previous works of art — their musical creations.
This isn’t a prelude to a rock show or a movie screening, but an Indian classical music concert of two of the most coveted and revered artistes in our country — Padma Vibhushan Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and Padma Vibhushan Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. For those of you who are unaware as to who these two geniuses are, I’ll oblige by giving you a background.
Pt. Shivkumar Sharma is credited with popularising the santoor in the world of Indian Classical Music (ICM) and beyond. His father was a visionary who saw the scope for a folk instrument from Jammu & Kashmir to become a vital classical music instrument and initiated Pt. Shivkumar into it. Over the years, Panditji reformed and improvised the santoor to suit and match the nuances and intricacies of ICM. He thus created a new genre of instrumental music. His raag-based album, Call Of The Valley, released in 1967, went on to become the largest-selling album of ICM, a melodious amalgamation between Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Brij Bhushan Kabra. The musical association of Pt. Shivkumar and Pt. Hariprasad continued in the following years, with the two maestros composing music for a number of Bollywood movies in the 80’s and early 90’s like Silsila , Lamhe, Chandni, Darr and so on .
Pt. Hariprasad’s initiation into music is different from the usual family backgrounds of singers and musicians. Being the first-ever person from his family to learn and take up music, Panditji reached the pinnacle of music and success through sheer determination, hard work and devotion. His father, too, had a role to play, albeit in a very different way. Panditji was to become a wrestler, following in his father’s footsteps and trained with him, too. Perhaps, even at the age of 78, this is a vital reason for Pandtji’s strength and stamina, enabling him to flawlessly play the flute, an extremely physically demanding musical instrument. Pt. Hariprasad has been enthralling audiences and music lovers in India and abroad since 1957. Besides collaborating with a number of Indian artistes, Panditji has also jammed with western musicians likes John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell and many others.