WHILE TALKING about their artistic inclinations, artistes are often heard saying ‘it runs in my blood’. Taking the phrase a step ahead, there are some artistes who choose to perform with those who not only belong to the same generation but also the same bloodline. From sibling rivalry to revelry now, they create artistic wonders when together.
Among a number of renowned artistes, the 64th edition of the most sought-after classical music festival — Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav — will be featuring five siblings. The artistes include — Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra (vocalists), Debopriya & Suchismita (on flute), Mysore Manjunath and Mysore Nagaraj (on violin), Ayush Mohan Gupta (on sarod) and Lakshya Mohan Gupta (on sitar), and Amaan & Ayaan Ali Bangash (on sarod). The festival will take place from December 7 to 11 at New English School, Ramanbaug.
The Mishra brothers, who are the sons of celebrated musician Rajan Mishra (of Rajan-Sajan Mishra duo), have been performing together for past 20 years. Ritesh, who is elder to Rajnish by two-and-a-half years, says, “There’s never been a competition between us. Offstage we are brothers but when we are on-stage, we see each other as co-artistes who respect each other’s music and enjoy it. As performing co-artistes, we complement each other. Because we have so much love between us, we are also able to attract love from the audience.”
On the other hand, Manjunath of the violinists duo Manjunath-Nagraj says that though there is competition between him and his elder brother, it is a healthy one. The brothers had begun learning violin from their father at a very young age and the father-sons trio went on to give numerous performances. About 30 years ago, the father and sons were scheduled to give a performance but at the last minute, the father couldn’t attend the function as he was unwell. It is then that Manjunath-Nagraj performed as a duo for the first time. The performance was so well-received by the audience that their father later asked them to continue performing together.
“When there is a brilliant artiste with you at home and on-stage, there is two-sided gain and the boundaries of improvisation get pushed. Each of us also give many solo performances and also do jugalbandi and fusion with other artistes,” said Manjunath, who is eight years younger to Nagraj.
Flautist sisters Debopriya and Suchismita learnt from the same guru at a young age and have been performing together for 20 years, in addition to their other solo performances. “I think it works well with siblings. There is an excellent understanding between me and my sister off-stage and on-stage and we bring the best in each other. It is the first time that we are performing together at Sawai and it is a huge platform— every musician’s dream. Both of us are really looking forward to it,” said Debopriya. Other than the siblings, the festival will also see performance by three father-son duos, which includes S Ballesh and Krishna Ballesh (shehnai), Dr. L. Subramaniam and Ambi Subramaniam (violinist) and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performing with his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash.