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Double impact

SAVITHA GAUTAM

Two is company. Especially for some on whom the Margazhi spotlight has fallen over the years, be it in the field of music or dance. The Dhananjayans, the Reddys and Narasimhachari-Vasanthalakshmi have paved the way for many others to follow. The Margazhi Vizha has, over the years, thrown up some very talented pairs. Here are a few who have made a mark:


Sriram Parasuram and Anuradha Sriram: “I remember Sriram singing more than playing the violin,” recalls Anuradha. “The first time we sang together was in the U.S in 1993. It was a natya sangeeth concert.” Discovering that their pitch and tonality matched their passion for music led the couple deciding to perform together. “Sriram says, “The advantage is that there’s an element of freshness and you get to see the same thing from a different perspective.” As Anuradha puts it, “I think our USP is that we are adept with both Carnatic and Hindustani.” Adds Sriram, “I feel for a couple to gel musically, they have to enjoy the process thoroughly and have mutual respect.” Doing jugalbandis for over a decade now (from 1994), Sriram and Anuradha are truly in tune with each other musically and otherwise.

Binny and Krishnakumar: “Music brought us together”, says Binny. “After we got married, we would sing together at home for the love of it. But when Krishnakumar discovered that my sruti could match his, we decided to sing together.” Says Krishnakumar, “When we began as a performing couple, we never thought people would like it. We were proved wrong.” Another balancing factor is their admiration for each another. Says Binny, “I think it is important to appreciate each another’s art.” Ego clashes? “None really. If we have differences of opinion, we sort out in a mature fashion,” Krishnakumar replies. Their first concert together was in 2001 at the Soorya Festival in Thiruvananthapuram. There has been no looking back since then.

Jayasri and Jeyaraj: The first performance together for these veena artistes was in Kolkata in 1991, the year they got married. Remembers Jayashri, “We were both learning veena from Anantharamiah Iyer (he belongs to the sishya parampara of Muthuswamy Dikshitar) and in fact, it was he who suggested that we perform together for the Dikshitar Utsavam held annually in Kolkata.” Adds Jayaraj, “Our families have been friends for three generations. We learnt from the same guru and admired each other’s playing. Initially, it was a bit difficult as we had to maintain our individuality while creating harmony together. But we got over that soon. We inspire each other and are competitive in a positive sense. It helps us perform better.” A sentiment echoed by his wife.

Pantula Rama and MSN Murthy: This couple has the rare distinction of being vocalists, violinists and viola players. Even more interesting is the fact they accompanying each other in kutcheris — when one turns vocalist, the other plays the violin and vice versa. “Actually, we used to play together even before we got married. Though we belonged to different schools of music, our values are the same. So our music melded beautifully.” rues Pantula Rama. “The transition post-marriage was smooth as we were tuned in musically.” In Murthy’s opinion, “We complement each other well. We exchange ideas and have healthy discussions. Most important, we give each other enough space as performers. That helps a lot.”

Anuradha and Sridhar: The Bangalore-based dancers were as school and dance class (gurus Radha Sridhar, Krishnaveni Lakshmanan and Kalakshetra) mates before becoming soul mates. Says Sridhar, “We met at Kalakshetra after a gap of 10 years. At that point, I was a successful actor as well. But I had decided to give up acting to pursue dance full time. So when I proposed to her, she agreed. My next question to her was ‘Is it because I am an actor?’ Her answer was, ‘No, because you are a dancer’.” They tied the knot in 1991. Recalls Anuradha, “We spent the first year of our married life just practising Bharatanatyam together. Our first performance in Chennai was in 1994.” How do they work together? Answers Sridhar, “I take care of choreography and choice of pieces, with inputs from Anu, while she takes care of costumes.” Adds Anu, “Well, I also spend more time with our daughter and take care of our home.” That’s how they achieve their balance.

N. Srikanth and Aswathy: Theirs began as a guru shishya relationship before culminating in marriage. Srikanth, who is from the Padma Subrahmanyam school, remembers, “Aswathy and I were solo performers, but performed together for the first time in 2001. People liked what they saw on stage soon preferred us to see duets from us.” For Aswathy, “It was initially a bit difficult as I belonged to the Vazhuvoor School while he has a strong Pandanallur foundation.” But, the little differences were ironed out and “we are in sync today.” Says Srikanth, “She is a perfect foil for me. While I am flamboyant, she is subdued. So, there’s a perfect balance of the male-female energy.” Srikanth admits that he’s the decision-maker when it comes to choreography and choice of the pieces, ‘though I take her opinion. But if she vehemently says something will not work, I go with her opinion, as she is right most of the time.” As Aswathy puts it, “What matters is the chemistry on stage.” That’s where this couple scores.

Narendra Kumar and Anusha: A show for ABHAI brought them together. “At least that’s the first time we noticed each other, though were both students at Bharata Kalanjali,” laughs Anusha. “I admired his choreographic skills and was too happy when he asked me to participate in ‘Kalinga Narthana’ thillana.” Narendra laughs when he remembers how he choreographed a Meera bhajan for the two of them. “Now, I do the scripting and concept, while he concentrates on choreography,” says Anusha. “The couple who ‘find joy in dancing together’ are in totally sync, on and off the stage.

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