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Finding life in music

Lakshay Mohan Gupta (sitar) and Aayush Mohan Gupta (sarod) at a performance Photo Sushil Kumar Verma.

Lakshay Mohan Gupta (sitar) and Aayush Mohan Gupta (sarod) at a performance Photo Sushil Kumar Verma.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

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Artists Lakshay Mohan and Aayush Mohan attribute their musical success to their father and gurus

The young Lakshay Mohan and Aayush Mohan, two brothers playing sitar and sarod, hailing from the Maihar Gharana are well-known amongst the music fraternity and art connoisseurs. music fraternity and audience. An impressive list of gurus and mentors have given them a solid foundation in their music. They include Padma Bhushan Sharan Rani, Pandit Uma Shankar Mishra Pandit Balwant Rai Verma (the senior most disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar) and sarod maestro Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar.Lakshay and Aayush recently performed at HCL concert series titled ‘Festival of Strings’. Starting with a bunch of evening ragas they played Hem Bihag (a composition of Ustad Allauddin Khan), moving to the popular raga Charukeshi. This was followed by the elegant piece Ragamala with Tilak Shyam as the base and Yaman Manjh, Rajya Kalyan, and Pancham Sitara stringed in it.

In a casual interaction, the brothers reflect on their father’s contribution, relationship with their gurus, fusion music, and music as a profession. Edited excerpts:

How did you commence on your musical journey?

Aayush: We never decided to become professional musicians at first. Since a very young age we were learning sitar and playing it, so it was a gradual organic process. Our father himself used to play sitar back in his college days and maybe he wished to see us fulfil his dream of taking his journey forward.

Although our father is a businessman, he always pushed us to learn and hear classical music since we were toddlers. This early exposure to music made a deep rooted impact on us. It is truly because of our father that we were fortunate enough to make the life-altering choice of taking up music.

When did the two of you take up playing separate instruments and specialise in them?

Lakshay: Our Guru Pandit Balwant Rai ji was the one under whom we both started training in sitar. He said that Aayush should learn sarod and I should keep up with sitar. Now it is a well-known fact amongst the art connoisseurs that both sitar and sarod are the flagship instruments of our Maihar Gharana and both instruments complement each other tremendously. Thus we came under the tutelage of Sharan Rani ji.

What advice from your gurus still rings in your ears?

Aayush: Initially when we were learning from our gurus, both of us had this notion that unless one has white hair or a bald head, one cannot become a good musician. Breaking our myopic approach towards music both Balwant Rai ji and Sharan Rani ji said that, ‘If you are good enough, you are old enough.’ They believed that if one practises, has the skills, dedication, and has an inclination towards music then age does not matter. It is the devotion to music which counts and not the age.

What are challenges of taking up classical music as a career?

Lakshay: Well, just like any other field you have to be considerably good to even think of taking it up professionally. Then you have to set your objectives right. Music is a very demanding art and cannot be learnt in few classes. It is a way of life. It is not separate from one’s normal life.

The financial viability of the art or profession is similar to any other. Just like any other art you have to keep training, keep your life centred around it, and if one is lucky one can actually make it financially viable.

Having said this, I would like to add that money is not the motive why one wishes to be an artist. It is for the sake of art. It is the start and end of everything according to us.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2019 2:20:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/finding-life-in-music/article8585732.ece

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