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Sister act

P. ANIMA

For Ranjani and Gayatri, music is a way of life. The Sanskriti awards acknowledge their achievements.

Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Well deserved Vocalists Ranjani (left) and Gayatri at the India International Centre in New Delhi

Sisters Ranjani and Gayatri cannot recollect when music grew into their lives. Ragas were as natural as learning to crawl and walk. “Even at two-and-half years of age, Gayatri could identify more than a 100 ragas,” says elder sister Ranja ni indulgently. The sisters, radiant in their crimson sari and gold jewellery, were in the Capital to receive the Sanskriti award for their achievement in music.

Ranjani and Gayatri, both in their 30s, say every breath was musical during their childhood in Mumbai. “Every moment of our day was filled with music,” recalls Gayatri.

“Growing up in Mumbai opened us to a wide choice of music including Hindustani,” says Gayatri.

Probably, it is this inadvertent way in which music swept into their lives that made their love and dedication to it absolute and unconditional.

Training, they agree, is vital to a musical journey. However, the inspiration a musical environment lends is priceless for them. But Carnatic vocal is not what the siblings began their sojourn with. Ranjani Gayatri, as they are known in the fraternity, were accomplished violinists before they drifted towards vocal.

As children, they had seen their father playing the violin and for them the instrument was yet another toy to play with. They began their formal training as violinists when they were barely six and eight years of age. Since they were musical to the core, transition to vocal remained uncomplicated. They began performing as vocalists in 1997.

“But we do manage to take out time for the violin too. Even last year we did a violin concert,” pitches in Ranjani. Another key force which made their transition from violin to vocal smooth was the confidence given by their guru P.S. Narayanaswamy.

“He just put us on stage. We were not taking ourselves seriously as vocalists,” remembers Gayatri.

However, the move meant there was no looking back ever since.

In a profession where many siblings team together, Ranjani Gayatri says the sister act has more advantages than drawbacks. “Being sisters is a help. It is inspiring and challenging at the same time,” says Gayatri.

“We have to discuss and plan together,” pitches in Ranjani. “We have to remember the composition well and know where the other person will take off. We also have to be aware of the other person’s mood and give space to that,” explains Ranjani. The sisters, married and settled in Chennai, continue to be close. They vouch they are at each others homes all the time.

The Sanskriti award is now an addition to the growing list of achievements for the duo. They have already been the recipients of the National Eminence Award from the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha and Kalki Krishnamoorthy Memorial Award.

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