Have you ever attended a Kashmiri wedding and relished ‘wazwaan’ in the backdrop of a live ‘santoor’ performance? If the answer is no, then do give Noor Mohammad Bhat alias ‘Sahil Santoor’ a chance to perform during the next wedding at your home.
While his performance will surely double the flavour of wazwaan, several locals are now preferring Sahil’s santoor over the traditional folk music especially during the ‘baraat’ and ‘nikah ceremonies’.
His performance, mostly at the fat weddings solemnised at big marriage halls, where he belts out soft tunes of Kashmiri folk and Bollywood songs besides Indian classical music, is leaving the guests spellbound.
Sahil said he got the idea of introducing santoor to Kashmir weddings after people complained that the new musicians were too loud.
“Nowadays, some new bands play at weddings and the traditional ones too use loudspeakers. Sometimes, I would hear complaints from guests that the music was good but too loud. At times, neighbours would complain too and others felt traditional music was good for ‘mehndi raat only’. Therefore, I came up with this idea of playing santoor only and so far the response has been overwhelming,” Sahil told The Kashmir Monitor.
He said he had been playing santoor at weddings for the past four years now.
“Though I have been playing santoor for the past eight years or so, I started performing at weddings four years back. With every passing year, I am gaining more acceptance. This season I performed at about 10 weddings, mostly baraat and nikah ceremonies, and I also get invited to VIP functions,” he said.
Sahil, who is a resident of Batpora near Gopalpora in Budgam district, said he was first introduced to Sufiyana music by Ustad Mohammad Ismail Bhat and now was pursuing a degree in performing arts from the Kashmir University (KU).
“I first learnt playing ‘Saaz-e-Kashmir’, which is played during Sufiyana music, at the Sufiyana classes of Ustad Mohammad Ismail Bhat. I also got introduced to santoor there but now I am learning from my mentor Adil Tibetbakal at the KU where I am pursuing a degree in performing arts with specialization in ‘Santoor Indian Classical’. Thankfully, I got good support from my parents as my father used to play ‘shahnai’ too,” he said.
Adil Bhat, a guest who heard Sahil’s performance at a recent wedding, said his tunes were ‘like a breath of fresh air’.
“I am fond of Kashmiri music and we all were bewildered by Sahil’s performance during a ‘baraat’. It was so soothing and like a breath of fresh air. We had never come across a santoor performance at a wedding and were glad to know that it is getting popular. Though I still feel our folk music is apt for ‘meanz raat’ ceremonies, one should give Sahil Santoor at try during a ‘baraat’ function or a big nikah ceremony that is attended by a large number of guests besides the bride and groom,” Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.