Kashmiri craftsman Ghulam Mohammad Zaz who was conferred with the highest civilian Padma Shri award on the eve of Republic Day for his “Santoor” is highly grateful of Late Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Bhajan Sopore for taking the music of this instrument to the world.
The 80-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Zaz is the lone survivor of the “Zaz dynasty” that is still making different musical instruments in Siraj Bazar of Srinagar’s Zainakadal area. “Honesty and devotion towards my profession earned me the prestigious civilian award”, he told UNI.
He said that the two maestros Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Bhajan Sopori tuned my Santoor and their renderings left every listener spellbound and thus both acclaimed popularity across the country.
However, he said it was Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma who took the Santoor to the world and Bollywood for his sensational way of playing the instrument with perfect tonal quality.
Ghulam Mohammad Zaz said “it was a great loss to the music lovers of Santoor that two legends left this world very early”.
Ghulam Ahmad Zaz said his forefathers have been making the musical instruments for the past three centuries but the award came late, feels the craftsman. He said his forefathers also deserved awards long before but were ignored, he complained.
Ghulam Mohammad Zaz did not know the origin of the Santoor instrument but added that it came to limelight after 1953 and was being played by the music known in Kashmir valley. Some people believe that Mughals were also using these instruments but it is not evident from history.
He said that the Santoor he made was perfect and with different toner quality that took it to a wider range of music lovers.
He said there are various Santoor players who have used his Santoor including Pinto and Bhargawa of Kolkata. But Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma provided the life to his Santoor by playing it soulfully and was acclaimed throughout the world.
He said “the Padma Shri award has restored my faith, although it took very long, but there are people who appreciate this kind of craft, he said and added “otherwise this is a dying art and finally someone has raised a voice for it.
He said the Rabab made by him was used by a Mumbai based bollywood musician Abdul Rahman. He said the style of performing in Rabab by him is different from the artists playing in Kashmir.
He urged the youth of the valley to adopt Kashmiri musical instruments to keep the traditional art alive instead of using foreign instruments.
Ghulam Mohammad Zaz said that Kashmiri Pandits were very fond of our instruments, and there was a time in the old city of Srinagar when music could be heard from everywhere.