Weekday Lounge Exclusive | Stringing harmony

Weekday Lounge Exclusive | Stringing harmony
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First Published: Wed, Jul 30 2008. 01 02 AM IST

Mormukut (right) and Manoj Kedia performing at the Kaviraj Sri Ashutosh Bhattacharya Memorial Sangeet Sandhya in Varanasi.
Mormukut (right) and Manoj Kedia performing at the Kaviraj Sri Ashutosh Bhattacharya Memorial Sangeet Sandhya in Varanasi.
Updated: Wed, Jul 30 2008. 01 02 AM IST
If tabla player Shambhu Dayal Kedia is to be believed, then the only way to make sure artists don’t go astray and lose focus from their music is to keep them away from metropolitan cities such as Mumbai. This is why his two eldest sons, Mormukut, 44, and Manoj, 42, have been brought up in the remote village of Giridi in Jharkhand, with occasional visits to their gurus in New Delhi, Mumbai and Ranchi.
This strict discipline may be the reason why the brothers’ talent and playing skills are compared with those of legendary sitar-sarod duo Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
Their father, inspired by a performance of Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar, handed Mormukut the sitar and Manoj the sarod, when they were barely nine and seven years old. The two started performing together three years later. “Except for radio programmes, where we have to perform individually, we do not accept solo performances,” says Mormukut. He realizes that this is an added attraction in their performance, “since people enjoy the jugalbandi, the sawal jawab aspect of a duet. There aren’t many duos in the field these days”.
Mormukut (right) and Manoj Kedia performing at the Kaviraj Sri Ashutosh Bhattacharya Memorial Sangeet Sandhya in Varanasi.
The Kedia Bandhu, as they are more popularly known, truly balance each other on-stage as well as off-stage (click on the video to view an excerpt of their performance in Varanasi). Mormukut, with his soft voice and measured speech is the typical responsible elder brother, while Manoj, his brother’s equal on stage, is , off stage, more easy-going, prone to crack the odd joke. Renowned sarod player Pt Sunil Mukherjee, who is currently their teacher says, “There are times when one would want to play a certain raga, while the other wants to play another, but they would always reach some sort of a compromise.” As for who gets his way most of the times, “well, actually it’s the younger one who wins. The elder one really lets him (Manoj) get his way,” says Mukherjee with a chuckle.
The brothers’ popularity lies in the fact that they stick to the speciality of their Senia Maihar Gharana, which is famous for its alaap. Especially since they have had an all-round learning experience from stalwarts such as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan to the reclusive Annapurna Devi (daughter of Ustad Allauddin Khan, sister of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and first wife of Pt Ravi Shankar) who is known for being extremely selective about her students. “When we went to mataji (referring to Annapurna Devi) in 1979, she told us to stack away all that we had learnt and start from the beginning,” Mormukut says. Their first guru, who continues to guide them, is their father Shambhu.
Surprisingly, the brothers have never had a fight, thus far. “Not even a major squabble,” Mormukut says. “We have always been together and our music has been the unifying factor,” he adds. This congeniality reflects in their music, too. According to Vinod Kapoor, the founder of the famous VSK Baithaks in Delhi, “It’s like one soul and two expressions. Both of them inspire each other in the most harmonious and elegant manner.” It’s not only their music that stands witness to this harmony, ask them a question, and more often than not their answers will be exactly the same.
The Kedia Bandhu with tabla legend late Pt Kishan Maharaj.
For instance, both mention their performance with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain as one of their most memorable.
“We don’t play in competition with each other, but in combination with each other,” Mormukut says. “Whether it’s Mormukut Kedia who is doing well, or it is Manoj Kedia, at the end of the day, it’s the Kedia Brothers who are performing well,” his younger brother adds.
The Kedia Bandhu will perform at the Vishnu Digambar Jayanti Sangeet Samaroh at Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi, on 1 August.
Here is complete schedule of the Vishnu Digambar Jayanti Sangeet Samaroh:
Friday, 1 August, 6.30pm
1. Kedia Bandhu Sitar-Sarod (Duet)
Ustad Rashid Mustafa Tabla
2. Pt Ulhas Kashalkar Vocal
Bharat Kamat Tabla
Arawind Thatte Harmonium
Saturday, 1 August, 6.30pm
1. Bhajans by students of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya
2. Manjusha Patil Vocal
Prasun Chatterjee Tabla
Vinay Mishra Harmonium
3. Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma Santoor
Pt Anindo Chatterjee Tabla
Sunday, 3 August, 10am
1. Bhajans by students of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya
2. Pt Anindo Chatterjee and Anubrata Chatterjee Tabla (duet)
Shri Murad Ali Sarangi
3. Pt Debu Chaudhuri Sitar
Mohd Akram Khan Tabla
6.30pm
1. Bhajans by students of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya
2. Shashank Subramanyam Karnatak flute
P. Satish Kumar Mridangam
3. Pt Jasraj Vocal
Mohd Akram Khan Tabla
Ustad Mehmood Dholpuri Harmonium
Shashank Subramanyam Flute
Seating is on a first come, first serve basis.
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First Published: Wed, Jul 30 2008. 01 02 AM IST
More Topics: Music | Sitar | Sarod | Kedia Bandhu | Video Story |