She kept singing, till that fateful plunge

April 23rd, 2008 - 7:51 pm ICT by admin  

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The night before her death she was performing at the India Habitat Centre. The next day renowned classical vocalist and composer Shanti Sharma fell from the second floor of her south Delhi home. Music, for Sharma, who met a tragic end Tuesday, was a vocation she described as “god’s gift”. The 52-year-old vocalist, an exponent of the Kirana Gharana, was associated as a teacher and a research fellow with the Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in the capital for 30 years.

“She set the musical score for ‘Ram Leela’, the Kendra’s flagship production which is watched by hundreds of thousands of people every year. The production has completed 51 years,” said Shobha Deepak Singh, director of the Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra.

It was said that Sharma was depressed after her daughter’s “senseless death in an accident” a few years ago. “But she was perfectly normal before her death. She came to the Kendra, practiced late into the night and was preparing for recording. She took to music with renewed vigour after her daughter’s death to overcome the trauma,” Deepak Singh said.

The musician had also composed the music for “Durga”, the Kendra’s recent production, and was supposed to record the music of its new musical “Tahe Kabir” in a week’s time.

“She was tall and beautiful and wore loads of bangles and jewellery,” Deepak Singh said.

The vocalist, considered by many on a par with popular singer Shubha Mudgal, was a master of the slow and contemplative Kirana Gharana. Her forte was her mellifluous voice.

Sharma, a Tamil from the temple town of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu, spent her early years moving from one town to the other with her father who was in the army. Her mother initiated her into music at the age of 12 and she trained under Guru Sangameshwar in Hyderabad and later under Guru Amarnath.

She decided to take up music as a profession after earning a master’s degree in chemistry. “I rebelled and decided to make it my profession,” she had said in an interview. She later married a fellow student, who supported her in her mission. Since then, she held several jobs at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra. Sharma also honed her skills from Ustaad Mashkur Ali Khan, who now lives in Kolkata.

“Shanti Sharma was influenced by Ustaad Amir Khan. While releasing her first music CD about 15 years ago, she had actually said that the album was a ‘love letter to Amir Khan’,” recalls friend and fan Partha Dutta.

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