As a child, when Pandit Suryakant Gaikwad and his wife Sangeeta Gaikwad first started teaching music to their son Ramakant and daughter Gayatri at the age of four, they knew that the two would make them proud. “We started with raag Yaman and practised it for four-five years. Initially, our riyaaz revolved around omkar sadhna, alankar and understanding the intricacies of music. It helped us to get a grip on our notes, which is very important in Indian classical music.” says 29-year-old Gayatri. Their daily riyaaz begins with a two-hour session in the morning, followed by afternoon and evening sessions.
Every disciple follows a guru mantra. The key lesson Ramakant and Gayatri learnt from their father, who was their teacher, was “listening is half learning”. Ramakant says, “This is something that has stuck with us. Right from childhood, we grew up listening to legendary artistes such as Bade Ghulam Ali, Bhimsen Joshi and Mehdi Hassan. We listened to the barikis and alaps and later included them in our practice.”
The duo started performing at a very young age and Ramakant found his moment of glory in 2003, when he performed with
Pt Jasraj in New York. “I won an all India competition that allowed me to perform in New York. I was honoured to do the month-long tour with Pt Jasraj. I learnt so much from him. This helped me grow as an artist.”
The gharana system in Indian classical music started in 1860s — families bonded over music and follow a style of music. Suryakant was trained in the Patiala gharana by Pt Marutirao Dondekar and has taught the same to both his children. Inspired by Ustad Amir Khan, Ramakant also learnt the nuances of the Kirana gharana. “There was one particular composition by Ustad Amir Khan sahab that my father made me listen to. That made me curious about this particular style, so I decided to formally train under Pt Satish Kaushik,” says Ramakant, who performed in Pune on April 26.
Gayatri is also fond of semi-classical music and is attracted to ghazals and thumris. “My father once told me that Shobha Gurtuji and I have a similar voice and her compositions will suit my voice. Every disciple listens to their guru, so I started singing her ghazals. Though she had an equal command over pure classical style, it was light classical music that got her recognition. She is my inspiration.” says Gayatri. One of her most memorable performances is “Khazana” organised by Pankaj Udhas in Pune last year. She performed alongside artistes such as Anup Jalota, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Richa Sharma and Udhas. She has also performed with Shubha Mudgal in Goa. “Performing with such legends is always overwhelming but satisfying. Events like these open up a lot of opportunities for artistes like me,”
Training artistes in classical music, in 2006 the family also launched a YouTube channel patiyala.kirana.music, which has over 2000 subscribers and lakhs of views. “I started this channel when it was all very new. Artists had just begun using social media as a tool to spread their art,” says Ramakant.
What is it like to have a music oriented family? “It is amazing. Not only my parents are my gurus, my brother, who is two years older than me, has also been one. We often perform together,” says Gayatri. Ramakant adds, “My wife Bageshree is also an artiste. It is a complete musical household.”