An Introduction to the Hidden Sun-Star of Indian Music Industry – Pandit Surendra Sharma
This spine-throbbing charismatic artist, Pandit Surendra Sharma is born for music. Music is in his veins; he breathes in and survives on music. I’m falling short of words to express his unique style of playing Santoor or I must just put it as the maestro of Santoor! Initially, he began as a ‘Jal-Tarang’ player, and his brilliance can be noticed in one of the songs ‘Jab raat hai aisi matwali’ from a record-breaking movie of the old times, Mughal-e-Aazam (released in 1960); and his journey into Indian music industry began from there.
During his initial days in the industry, it was challenging to get his dates as he was aligned with some most prominent Ghazal singers starting from Pankaj Udhas to Jagjit Singh and Anup Jalota to Ghulam Ali as a lead accompaniment artist – the only Santoor player into Ghazals. Panditji has played Santoor in ‘thousands’ of Ghazals and films that are even difficult to remember in numbers and name. I have somehow managed to collect a few pieces of favorite films and ghazals where he displayed his Santoor playing skills at a grand level.
Family Background of Pandit Surendra Sharma:
Pandit Sharma is a firm believer in Indian culture and values, and this makes his attachment and inclination towards his family an unbreakable bonding. He told me strictly not to mention it here that he is called the modern ‘Shravan Kumar’ in his family. People residing in his neighborhood have a lot to share about this great personality, who is known as the best son, spouse, and father, and believe me; it feels as if you’re listening to an astonishing inspirational story.
He gives the entire credit of getting music into his blood to his father, Late Brij Mohan Lal Sharma, who was a beautiful Banjo player. He resides in a luxurious house in suburban Mumbai with his wife, three daughters and a granddaughter, who are too dear to him. His eldest daughter is a Voice & Accent Specialist. The second daughter is a writer, author, and an interviewer (that’s me!). Youngest daughter is a well-known novelist, author, and artist.
The title of Panditji was honored to him by the prominent Music Gurus and Maestros as a gesture of respect for his knowledge in music.
I am speechless when it comes to streamlining his achievements as I don’t know where to start from…
Most of his tunes were self-composed that made outstanding male and female actors dance to those tunes:
- Maine Pyar Kiya
- Gadar: Ek Prem Katha
- Dil Toh Pagal Hai
- Hum Aapke Hain Kaun
- Hum Tumpe Marte Hain
- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
- The Hero: Love Story of a Spy
- Mirza Ghalib – TV Series (1988), and the list goes on…
Interesting facts about Pandit Surendra Sharma:
- Panditji made all the leading actresses dance to his tunes and melody.
- Producers, Yash Chopra and Rajkumar Barjatya, were also addicted to his impeccable style of music and thus had a wish to make him play in most of their movies.
- Most prominent Ghazal singers he has played with: Jagjit & Chitra Singh, Bhupinder & Mitali Singh, Pankaj Udhas, Madhurani, Talat Aziz, Ghulam Ali, Rajendra & Neena Mehta, Talat Mehmood, Ahmed & Mohammad Hussain, Chandan Das, Anup Jalota, Parvez Mehendi, Peenaz Masani, Rajkumar Rizvi, etc.
- Some of the leading legends he has played with: Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar, Anuradha Paudwal, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, Sukhwinder Singh, Suresh Wadkar, S.P. Balasubramanyam, Yesudas, and almost all from the 90’s that one can think of.
- He has also played with many prominent music directors such as; Naushad Saab, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Kalyanji Anandji, O.P. Nayyarji, Ram Laxman, Uttam Singh, Ravi, Usha Khanna, Ravindra Jain, Jagjit Singh, Gaurang Vyas (Gujarati Cinema), Sudhir Phadke (Marathi Cinema), and many more…
- Panditji has received many awards ever since his childhood for his outstanding performances. One of the awards obtained were from the best good-looking actor of all times, Shashi Kapoor.
- He has delivered music and many background scores in various theater-drama plays on other regional languages of India. A few such examples include, Gujarati (Drama Titles: ‘Bay Number Ni Baaydi’; ‘Shaabash Birbal Shaabash’, etc.; all crossing more than 120-125 nights with an impeccable response from the audiences), Marathi ‘Natyasangeet’, Punjabi and several more.
- He has an incredible knowledge regarding most of the Indian and Western instruments and has tried his hands on many of them such as Violin, Tabla, Sitar, Guitar, Piano, ‘Patti-Tarang’, Xylophone, and many unknown.
- Rajya Sabha TV has recently been interviewed panditji on Legendary Ghazal fankaar, Jagjit Singh’s special program.
Hobbies and Interest:
Music apart, his second commendable interest is – Technology. He has a vast collection of computers, computer-games, gadgets, tech-books and other tech-devices and is always adaptable to any new change in technology. He is a geek when it comes to computers, and I challenge he will knock you down with his expansive knowledge of it.
Few Words by Pandit Surendra Sharma:
“Just be yourself and do all that has your heart in it…”
Straight from the writer’s heart:
Although, I have written the entire article about Pandit Surendra Sharma, my hands just can’t stop typing as there is yet so much to mention about him. Panditji left the music industry with due respect, but the music never left him; his fans and fellow artists miss him bad. It is easy to neglect the family and become a saint, but if you wish to know how to perform all your responsibilities within the family and yet live like a saint, we must learn from this amazing human being. There is a different atmosphere and environment when he begins practicing Santoor; you travel to a different world altogether. I am honored to be his daughter who got a chance to be a part of this great artist’s life.
‘He is the man who healed souls by his melodious tunes!’
During his early childhood days, people entreated Surendraji, and the Gurudwaras invited him to treat unhealthy people as they felt at so much ease by listening to him playing Jal-Tarang.
His fingers are difficult to track when he plays the Santoor, and the speed of his practice is unbeatable! It is doubtless that Panditji remains acknowledged with the title;
‘Man with Hundred Strings Instrument – Santoor!’
I am blessed to have grabbed this opportunity by the almighty and write about him. It was tough to convince him for an interview as Pandit Surendra Sharma has always moved away from fame and recognition. I was fortunate enough to get a few pictures with him.
A compilation of few mesmerizing Santoor pieces by Pandit Surendra Sharma and his marvelous background scores in various movies. Put on your headphone for a clear and mesmerizing effect for this piece of work:
Thank you for sharing your musical journey with me and contributing to this great level of the music to the industry.