Rooted in the rich soil of classical heritage and nurtured under the guidance of maestros, Ranjani and Gayatri, the musical prodigies have become synonymous with profound artistry. Their journey has been a symphony of devotion, starting from their earliest days when their innocent fingers embraced the violin strings and their voices discovered the subtleties of ragas, and ending on the world’s grand stages.
Their music speaks the language of the divine and touches listeners’ hearts with its nuanced dance between tradition and innovation. With every song, they paint stories of gods and mortals, love and longing, in hues only music can conjure. Amidst the vibrant notes and spirited performance, their melodies, like whispered secrets of the universe, resonate with anyone who the power of sound has ever moved.
Here’s Ranjani and Gayati sharing their experience about their musical journey with Provoke Magazine
What does music mean to you?
Gayatri: Music was an integral part of our lives. It was more than just an after-school pursuit or a pastime limited to particular practice sessions or classes. I felt that music was everything. Songs played in my head even as I went to school. I used to sing quietly during exams, sometimes to the detriment of my academics. Everything in our lives is impacted by music.
Ranjani and I took violin lessons after school, and thanks to our quick learning, we advanced quickly to senior classes. After class, we would practice assiduously at home. Our lives were greatly influenced by music. That was what made us who we were.
Where did this interest in music spark?
Ranjani: Our parents are the ones who ignited our passion for music, as parents tend to do for their children. Our pursuit of interests in sports or music is fueled by their enthusiasm and the encouraging environment they foster. My father is not a professional violinist, but he plays the instrument with great passion, and our mother is a talented singer who has been recognised as an All India Radio Graded Artist. We became interested in him because, to him, the violin is very important.
Gayatri: Our father began learning the violin relatively late, in his twenties. I remember being enthralled with him when I was younger, even though fingers in their twenties are naturally inflexible. My sister and I also started playing the violin because it was so enjoyable in our hands.
Tell us about the bond that exists between the two of you?
Gayatri: During our childhood, Ranjani and I had a strong sibling relationship; we would argue, be stubborn, and express our opinions strongly. But as we got older, our arguments turned into philosophical debates. We ask each other why things should be a certain way or why we should approach something a certain way, and we do this continuously. Music is the centre of our existence, our essence, our very being. We become one unit as soon as we take the stage.
Share some details about your first Katcheri?
Ranjani: I was just 13, and Gayatri was 10 when we first stepped onto the stage. We were mere children, unprepared for the spotlight. Even though we took our violin practice very seriously, we had never considered giving a formal concert. But when the chance came, our guru insisted that we play in a concert.
Even though he had a lot of senior students, our guru suggested we perform at the Indian Music Group’s inaugural youth festival. Even our father, who was first apprehensive about us performing because of our inexperience with arangetrams (debut concerts) and young age, was impressed by our performance. For a programme that lasted only an hour, we committed hours of practise, and our father’s commitment was crucial. Ranjani, who was older than I was at ten, felt the pressure, even though I wasn’t completely aware of their presence. People of all ages appreciated our talent.
Gayatri: Transitioning from practice to performance is a distinct journey. While hours of practice are essential, delivering a flawless performance on stage demands experience and a specific mindset. Over the past 3.5 decades, we’ve accumulated this experience, and now the stage feels like our playground. However, at the age of 10, the situation was entirely different.
You have won many awards and recognitions. Tell us more…
Ranjani: In my opinion, receiving an award is like receiving a “pat on your back”—it shows you are headed in the right direction and motivates you to keep going. There is still much for us to accomplish, discover, comprehend, go through, and communicate in the field of music.
Gayatri: The greatest prize is the audience’s joyous responses to our performance. Applause isn’t necessary because you can tell that the crowd is genuinely engaged with the music and is totally in the moment. Nothing comes close to that satisfying and happy experience.
Can you share some unforeseen experiences on stage?
Ranjani: Various challenges occur on stage. Sometimes the stage is uneven, and we have to adjust while performing.
Gayatri: We may have completed the sound check, but once the monitor abruptly died right before the concert began, forcing us to perform without it. This occurs often enough, even in high-quality auditoriums. No matter how much practise we’ve done, we can never be sure what will happen on stage. We must be ready for anything, keep trying our hardest, smile, and sing along as if nothing had happened.
What advice would you like to give to the younger generation?
Ranjani: The present generation has been exposed to a lot and is well-informed. They have a strong work ethic and a thorough understanding of many different topics. For this generation, advice is not really needed. What I want to stress, though, is that learning and performing Carnatic music takes time. It’s an ongoing adventure. This is an art that requires constant involvement and deep immersion. This is a sustained commitment.
Gayatri: We shouldn’t approach this art form with the idea that we can pick it up quickly and become well-known in a few years. Total devotion to the art form and submission are necessary for true mastery. While many factors impact success, we have control over the inherent joy of singing the ragas. We should find joy in the process; everything else that follows is simply a bonus.
How do you balance your life?
Ranjani: Our family has been the backbone of our growth, providing unwavering support in every aspect. This support allows us to sing worry-free.
Gayatri: I won’t deny the challenge; it’s not easy, it’s very hard. I often worry about my children. However, by God’s grace, when I start to sing, I enter another space, finding solace and strength.