Santoor maestro Rahul Sharma on why he keeps away from Bollywood
The soft-spoken and reclusive musician Rahul Sharma, a santoor maestro who has released as many as 60 albums, doesn’t listen to Bollywood music. Instead, the 46-year-old prefers to Netflix and has a taste for horror flicks. The Mumbai based musician was recently in town, when Indulge caught up with him for a chat. Excerpts…
Tell us a little about the upcoming albums and projects that you are working on?
There is something I am working on with Marc JB, an electronic artiste from the UK. Hopefully, it will come out this year, in the second half.
What is a day in the life of Rahul Sharma like?
Usually, if I am not travelling, I like spending time with my four-and-half-year-old son, Abhinav, and my wife, Barkha. I also watch a lot of web series like Texas Chainsaw Murders and Big Bang Theory, plus I spend time with my dad, who lives close by.
As an artiste, what inspires you?
Nature and travelling inspire me. I have done so many albums, such as Time Traveler... It was about all my experiences as a traveller.
Do you feel there is a spiritual connection in music?
There is definitely a spiritual connection. The ragas one plays are very classical. When you are playing fusion, then definitely, it is different. But today, for example, I am performing classical and that is devised from the Vedas, it affects the human body and emotions. It happens with the audience as well, but it’s relative. There are so many factors to it — the location, and the place where you are sitting, and then there are times you forget that there are people sitting in front of you, and you are on a high.
What is your take on Bollywood music?
The scene is very different right now. Earlier, you could tell, when you listened to somebody’s song, which music director’s song that is. Now, you can’t tell the identity of the song. I did a few films earlier. I think there is a great thrill in playing on stage and travelling the world, which you don’t get in a studio.
Tell us about your journey with the santoor.
It is a strange kind of connection. I wasn’t so inclined earlier, but later on, when I was 11 or 12 years old, I started to discover more things. I started playing the harmonium, and the keyboard, and when my father noticed that I was able to recreate a song, he introduced me to the santoor. It has been 22 years of being on stage, but there is still a lot more, and it will all reveal itself... That is how life is.
How do you blend the santoor with rock music?
I always wondered why my santoor couldn’t be a feature of the kind of songs that Pink Floyd composed. That’s the reason why I collaborated with Deep Forest, a hardcore electronic Grammy-winning group. I also did similar experiments with Kenny G and Richard Clayderman.
One of your albums is called The Rebel. Do you see yourself as one?
I don’t know if I am a rebel, but I have been rebellious during my teenage years, and everybody goes through that stage. It was at that stage that I came up with The Rebel, when I wanted to do something that I felt was possible with the santoor.