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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Making classical 'cool'

Usmeet Kaur , Hindustan Times   October 26, 2013
First Published: 12:19 IST(26/10/2013) | Last Updated: 12:25 IST(26/10/2013)

A lot of youngsters do not find classical music 'cool', but she strongly feels otherwise. Meet the young and vivacious Ranjani Ramachandran, a Hindustani classical vocalist who says she knows many young artistes who promote classical music and a passionate audience - also young - that listens to them seriously.

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Ranjani is in the city for the three-day 36th Annual Chandigarh Sangeet Sammelan organised by the Indian National Theatre. The sammelan also saw the flautist sisters Debopriya and Suchismita Chatterjee mesmerising the audience on the first day, Friday.

Ranjani, who is trained in the Gwalior and Jaipur gharanas, has much to her credit  and was selected as a resident scholar at ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata under the aegis of Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar in 2001. 

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/10/Lady.jpg          http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/10/Flute.jpg

(CLASSICAL LOVE: Ranjani Ramachandran)         (FLUTE POWER: Debopriya and Suchismita Chatterjee)
Photos: Gurpreet Singh/HT

She has also been honoured with the central government scholarship for Hindustani classical music by the government of India, which she pursued from 1998 to 2000, and has many more scholarships to her credit. Talking about the topic that interests her most, classical music and its future in our country, she shares, "There is an onslaught of Bollywood music in India, but there is no dearth of audience for classical music either. To appreciate classical music, one needs to understand its nuances." 

"I take online music classes and have many youngsters from India and abroad who are eager to learn classical music from me," signs off Ranjani, who has recently submitted her doctoral thesis on music.

When we talk to the flautist sisters, they share how people raise their eyebrows, seeing girls play the flute. Sharing how they got into the profession, which is otherwise considered the domain of males, they say, "Our parents were vocalists and therefore we hail from a family of musicians. It was our father's dream to see us do something unconventional.

Unfortunately, our country has set parameters for girls - like a girl should play the Sitar or dance, but when you play the flute, people ask questions."

Digging further into the topic, the duo, who have given background score for many popular television soaps such as Afsar Bitiya, Balika Vadhu, Punar Vivah and Crime Patrol, go on, "Flute was usually associated with Lord Krishan and not Radha - may be that made flute a male dominating instrument. A flute is not easy to play and calls for lung power, thus people assume it is not a girl's cup of tea."

The sisters, who have been disciples of flautist Padma Vibhushan Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, say, "Guruji's tag has always worked as an advantage for us. Wherever we performed, India or globally, people have taken us seriously." 

On how the flute is a unique instrument, they say, "It is one of the instruments, which unlike others, has an electronic feel and therefore, it has its own strong place and can fit well with all types of music - be it classical, folk or western."

The sammelan is being held at Bal Bhavan from October 25-27.

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