Rising Star Music

Ideology identical

Shwetha and Deeptha Vasudevan  

Walking into Shwetha and Deeptha Vasudevan’s R.A. Puram residence in Chennai, I’m greeted by two near-identical faces. They tell me their names with a smile, chuckling as Shwetha comments, “Don’t worry if you get confused. That happens a lot.”

They have been identical — since the day they can remember — in dressing, playing , and in music. Raised by mother Maya Vasudevan, a flute artiste and disciple of maestro N. Ramani , the twins grew up in a household brimming with the sound of Ramani’s flute and the voice of Sudha Ragunathan. Incidentally, they are granddaughters of AIR-graded artiste Amur Sakunthala Rengachari. So sangitam runs in their blood, as Deeptha puts it.

Early training

“We began our formal training with Smt. Choodamani, Sudha Ragunathan’s mother, when we were seven,” Shwetha recalls. A year later, for the first time, they went up the stage at Ramani’s Academy of Flute .

“Music was a constant presence at home. Amma would teach us all day, humming tunes while cooking, quizzing us on different musical concepts,” Deeptha smiles. The engagement with the flute gave the girls a deeper understanding of ragas, something that reflects in their vocal kutcheri presentation.

The two evolved even as they moved from one teacher to another — Sulochana Pattabhiraman, Rukmini Ramani and Geetha Raja — until coming under the tutelage of their current preceptors, Padma Hariharan and P. Vasanth Kumar. The progress in music happily overlapped with their academic achievements.

While Shwetha turned to law, Deeptha is pursuing medicine. It was a challenge, to manage their time to accommodate their creative passion. “We never felt the stress though,” says Shwetha, attributing it to their mother’s positive outlook and the conducive environment she fostered at home.

“For us, music was an outlet. With mother encouraging us to pursue whatever career we desired, it was left to us to create a space for music,” Deeptha adds.

Living apart for the first time, the girls practised over phone. This in a way prepared them for their intense careers ahead — giving them an edge as they call it. But they do share something special.

“We complement each other,” Deeptha shrugs as Shwetha smiles in agreement. It is a partnership that has served them well, even resulting in the composition of a few ragam-tanam-pallavis and duo kutcheris every Season even as Deeptha prepares for her AIIMS board exams next month.

“We invite our colleagues to our performances. It is something we enjoy doing and we want new audiences to discover the beauty of this art,” Shwetha explains. “Our professions go hand in hand with our art forms,” says Deeptha while Shwetha nods in agreement. “We are happy to widen the reach of our art. A little will go a long way,” they say in unison.

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Printable version | Sep 12, 2021 9:01:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/deeptha-and-shwetha-on-balancing-academics-and-music/article20478328.ece

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