Dipak Sharma  

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Impassioned MELODIES

A Profile of Dipak Sharma
by Mohammad Sabir Nishat

Dipak Sharma has come a long way. He is today counted among the upcoming flautists in the country. A disciple of the greatest living exponent of the bamboo flute, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Sharma has had a meteoric rise in the world of classical music. So uncanny is the similarity between his style and that of his guru that one has to close one’s eyes and listen to believe it. Sharma has matured from a child prodigy to a virtuoso flautist with a sure touch and command.

Born in 1968 at Panigaon in undivided Kamrup district, Sharma’s love for the flute flowered in childhood. "I was five when I fell headlong in love with the sweet, liltting sound of the instrument while listening to flute recitals on the radio. That was the beginning," says the talented young artiste. By the time he celebrated his 18th birthday, Sharma had achieved enough proficiency in the flute to become a B-high grade artiste of AIR, Guwahati. He was the first to take his Master’s degree in Instrumental Music from the North East. He soon made his debut at a college function in 1987.

"It was the first performance of my life and I never looked back since," he says. Sharma won gold medals at the National Youth Festival in New Delhi, the Inter-varsity Youth Festival in Varanasi and the Akhil Bharatiya Sangeet Pratiyogita in Allahabad besides the silver medal at the Assam Sangeet Sammelan in Guwahati.

Sharma says he defied his father to take up a career in music and enrolled himself as a student of the noted flautist of the time, Prabhat Sarma from Assam. Later, he took lessons from Debu Banerjee in Calcutta. The most significant phase of his career began when he came in contact with the legendary flautist, Hariprasad Chaurasia, who came to Guwahati to perform at the National Convention of Spic Macay at Don Bosco School, Guwahati in 1993.

He chanced to listen to young Sharma’s impassioned rendering of a lovely biya naam-based dhun that he himself had composed. "Playing before the maestro was an experience - I was in total awe of the legendary man. My knees shook when I met him. But he put me at ease with his cordiality and warmth," recounts Sharma. Pandit Chaurasia took a great fancy for Sharma and asked him to come over to Mumbai, where he has learnt from the maestro for the past four years. "I began to re-learn music at the feet of the great Pandit Chaurasia. Guruji imparts training with exemplary love and dedication. He is a rare musician who, despite being constantly booked for performances in the country and abroad, still manages to devote a lot of time and energy to groom talented young students," says Sharma. Theirs has been a guru-shishya relationship to this day.

While in Mumbai, Sharma composed music for two TV serials, Karm and Wazir for Zee TV and featured in an instrumental jugalbandi of classical and western music on the same channel. He also played flute for the background music of Kaleidoscope on Star Plus.

Sharma made music for the feature film Kashish working for the well-known music director duo Jeetu-Tapan and for Ashique Hai To Dilbar with music director Jayanta Pathak. He also scored music for the TV serval, Reporter, which was aired on Doordarshan, besides featuring in songs sung by Asha Bhonsle, Anup Jalota, Kumar Sanu and Samir Roy, favourite guitarist of the late RD Burman.

Besides accompanying popular actress Meenakshi Seshadri to her classical dance programmes across the country, Sharma performs regularly on All India Radio and Doordarshan. He had also composed music for three songs in Sai Paranjpe’s Saaz, and for the play Meri Biwi Meri Sarkar directed by Debanand Jha. He has cut three albums, the latest one being Beyond the Horizon.

As a concert performer, Sharma took the bamboo flute to prestigious music festivals including the Sangli, the Luna Villa Winter Festival and the Kal Ke Kalakar, organised by Sur Singar Samsad. He was selected by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to take part in the closing ceremony of the 50 years of India’s independence in South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion Island, where he gave sterling solo recitals in August, 1998.

Sharma’s recent tour, sponsored by the ICCR, took him to Spain, Denmark and Germany. Recounting his performance abroad, Sharma says, "I was really touched when I got a standing ovation abroad. I got extensive coverage by the print media there."

The large audience turnout at his concerts indicates Sharma’s growing popularity. His rendition of ragas with absolute authority and impact transports sensitive listeners to an ethereal world. Apart from the fan following, he began reaping a harvest of rewards. But the biggest reward has come in the form of scholarly write-ups by music critics who have compared his "style and consummate artistry" with that of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.

With electronics revolutioning the music scene and international music channels belting out pop, Sharma is worried about how to popularise classical Indian music among the youth. "Gimmicky things are substituting traditional instruments like the saxophone, the trumpet, the trombone and even to some extent, the flute," he rues.

Indian classical music has all the qualities of global music, and Sharma has plans to promote it by incorporating in it "today’s thinking" without sacrificing its elements, so that young people could relate to it.

Coutesy: The Assam Tribune

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