Trichur Brothers, Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan, who are well known for their stage presence and emotive delineation of ragas attribute their success to the musically rich environment they grew up in.
Their striking good looks make you wonder why they are not on the Bollywood screen! As their demeanour unfolds, Trichur Brothers, as Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan are termed in the music circles of Chennai and elsewhere, reveal their classical mastery and much more.
Their repertoire has a magnetic appeal that turns their first-time audience into ardent fans. Their stage presence, their diction, their delightful delineation of the ragas, their keen perception in presenting a song with its emotive element intact without sacrificing the grammar of classical rendition or vice-versa, their creative output and above all a harmonious balance and blend of their singularly strong tonal qualities, endears them at once to the listener.
Their forte lies in merging themselves in a single identity without marring their individuality. How do they feel about being known as a duo? “It was a sort of re-christening by the Kanchi pontiff Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami some years ago and it remains so ever since. The question of individual status as far as music and performing together went, never struck us. We learnt together as children and grew up as duo musicians. We were never compelled nor did we ever compete. It all happened so naturally, that it was never an issue,” clarifies Ramkumar, the younger of the two. To a casual observer, it is difficult to distinguish who is the elder of the two.
In august company
With mridangam maestro Trichur Mohan as father and an equally music-literate mother, the brothers took to music like fish to water. Their first music lessons began in their hometown Trichur which happens to be the thoroughfare to the famous Guruvayoor temple. “My grandfather was a patron of arts. During our childhood, we had a train of great maestros gracing our house as guests on their way to Gurvayoor. Being too young, we had no clue about the privilege of housing such masters of music. Imagine Chembai, Semmangudi, MS amma staying at our place; we casually played around them as kids. If it were now, we would have been flat on the floor touching their feet!” says Srikrishna half in mirth and half wistful.
Madurai Balamani was their first guru and later they had intensive training under late Neyyantikara Mohan Chandran for a decade. “Our guru was a linguist, proficient in 10 languages and its nuances. He would accord top priority to the diction of the song in the language it was penned. We were trained to imbibe what every word and term conveyed so that we would produce it with the right feeling or bhava. Our gurus never taught us from a syllabus. The entire system of teaching and learning had the sanctity of the Vedas. Our guru Chengalput Ranganathan would often say that a small difference in diction would invite a Tsunami! An exposure to Guruvayoor temple is an exposure to the best music and dance kutcheris . We were in the right environs,” Ramkumar briefs on their musical background.
What made them shift to Chennai six years ago? “Our mother hails from Chennai, so we are not total strangers though we lived in Trichur for most part. Dad had already established himself as a mridangam artiste in the Chennai concert circuit. So it was but natural that we too move to this place which has innumerable platforms to showcase one's talent. It was not a cakewalk though. You only need to draw your audience to the first four kutcheris . Once this uphill task is surmounted, things just fall in place,” they are candid in their analysis.
Right now, with guru P.S. Narayanaswamy, the brothers don't miss Trichur. . Electronically savvy, Srikrishna and Ramkumar are chartered accountants working with multinational firms. “We are on Facebook where we get a feedback on our performances. We are also on the skype, teaching a few students abroad. Abroad, there is a cultural disconnect, but now it is brimming with cultural festivals.
We were surprised during one of our Canadian tours to see young audience stay put and highly interested in our two hour concert, for which they had to travel many hours. . In Chennai, we have dad's school ‘Nadalaya Pravaah' but we teach a limited number of students as we have hardly any time away from work and music practice for four hours a day. We Improvisation should be spontaneous and we were taught not to lose sight of the aesthetics in our quest to show our creative output. Bhava is the soul of any composition and it should be borne in mind at all costs,” they opine.
These two brilliant stars have already dazzled the Carnatic sky and are poised to turn into twin pole star.