Talented duo take a rich legacy forward

Pandit Ravi Shankar is a name that reverberates in every ear as one of the best known exponents of sitar, and the one to have laid the very foundations of modern classical music in India. The sitar maestro made an everlasting impact at both national and international levels, leaving behind a number of learned devotees and disciples, who are now successfully carrying forward his legacy, thus making more and more people aware of his wisdom and divine music.

Amongst many others, Lakshay Mohan Gupta and Ayush Mohan Gupta are two of his grand-disciples, popularly known as the ‘musical grand children’.

Based in the city, they recently made a grand foray as the first Indians to perform at the Grammy Museum, USA in collaboration with acclaimed cellist Barry Phillips. The event was a hearty tribute and celebration of Pt. Ravi Shankar’s 95th birth anniversary, along with being a one-of-its kind occasion wherein the soulful notes of Indian classical music were relished and acknowledged by a western audience.

In a candid conversation with Metrolife, the two spoke about their personal fondness towards classical music and how the genre needs to be a part of the nation’s youth. “Even though we don’t belong to a family of musicians, music and culture has always been a very big part of our lives. With the passage of time, we developed a
certain kind of passion and devotion for this music, having received guidance from Pandit Balwant Rai Verma, the very first disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar,” says Ayush.

One needs to understand the depth of the genre, which is mostly devoid of lyrics and is all about the individual notes of the musical instrument. Unlike any other form of music which is always pre-composed, classical music will always keep on rejuvenating. “The technical intricacies of the music are its fascinating aspect which makes us go deeper and deeper into the world of sitar and sarod. No matter how much we rehearse, the performance that we give on stage will be as much a surprise for us, as it is for the audience. The music gifts us with something new, every time we play it!” the two enthused.

Where on one hand, music is known to lead enthusiasts into a different kind of high, classical music is akin to be all the more ‘powerful and addictive’. Speaking of its influence and the overall impact on the listeners, Lakshay remarks, “Initially, people have a very introspective mindset about this genre. One needs to develop the patience to adhere to instruments like tabla, sitar, harmonium and sarod. For us, it’s not just about playing these instruments; it’s our way of life.”

Not surprising then that people in the west received the music with equal enthusiasm and joy. A world which is overpowered by Electronic Dance Music, Trance and Dubstep-kind of music, welcomed Indian classical music with all its randomness and longevity.

“By the end of the concert, Mr Phillips was left feeling jealous of us, seeing that we have so much space to experiment with our ragas, taals and all other compositions. They can only re-work on their existing strings and notes...” Lakshay tells Metrolife.

In the end, the only thing that one feels sad about is that the country’s youth is extremely distant from the divinities of music which is now appreciated and acknowledged overseas, the talented duo feel.

“One needs time to comprehend the underlying notes and depths of classical music. Having prior opinions about something prevents you from doing justice to it. Once you begin adapting the music without any expectations, we assure you that classical music will leave you with an entirely different approach towards life,” the duo bring the conversation to an end on an inspirational note.  

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