Bombay Sisters

 

 

Bombay Sisters
(Saroja & Lalitha)

 

 

Born at Trisoor, Kerala to Smt. Mukthambal and Sri. N. Chidambaram Iyer, the sisters were brought up in Bombay, where their father was working as Electrical Engineer in the Western Railway.

Smt. Saroja and Smt. Lalitha had their education in the S.I.E.S. Matunga, passed their intermediate privately from Bhopal, M.P. and completed their graduation from the Delhi University by correspondence.

During this period the sisters had their early initiation in Carnatic Music, first from their elder sister, Smt. Sethu Mahadevan and later from Sr. H.A.S. Mani (popularly known as Chellamani Baghavathar). At this period the sisters participated in many competitions and won many prizes and laurels. This induced them to apply for the Government of India Cultural Scholarship for higher studies. As luck would have it, both the sisters got the scholarship, one after the other, which in turn brought them to Madras for higher studies in Carnatic Music from the then Central College of Carnatic Music, Adyar, under the direct tutelage of late Sri. Musiri Subramania Iyer, who was then the Principal of the College. After passing out of the College with the title "SANGEETHA VIDWAN", they continued their training in Carnatic Music from Sri. T.K. Govinda Rao, who remains the primary disciple of Sri. Musiri Iyer. Till this day the training from Sri. Govinda Rao continues.

CAREER:

The sisters started their concert career from 1963, and have been progressing steadily and steeply, step by step by giving performances in all the sabhas in our country, all music festivals, A.I.R. National Programmes, and Sangeetha Sammelans, in Doordarshan and private satellite channels. The sisters are classified as "TOP GRADE" Artists by A.I.R.

SPECIAL CONCERTS:

Besides Sangeeth Sammelans organised by A.I.R. in various cities and by I.T.C. the sisters had the honour of being invited by Government of India to give special concerts on the following occasions:

  • Inauguration of F.M. Broadcast in Madras
  • Inauguration of NATIONAL CHANNEL of A.I.R. in New Delhi by Sri Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister
  • Only south indian artists to participate in the 500th Birth Centenary Celebrations of Saint SURDAS, organised by A.I.R. at Vigyan Bhavan.
  • Specially invited to render a concert exclusively on THIRUPUGAZH at the Saint ARUNAGIRI
  • NATHAR festival organised by A.I.R. at Mavlankar Auditorium, New Delhi.
  • Gave special concert for WORLD WOMEN’S DAY organised by National SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI at Sapru House.
  • At the invitation of the Government of Tamilnadu and Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram, participated in the 8th World Tamil Conference, Tanjavoor.
  • Given special concerts on various occasions in various parts of the country at the invitation of A.I.R. before invited audience.

TOURS ABROAD:

  • 1983 Concert tour of Dubai, Bahrain and Abudhabi,
  • 1989 Again at Abudhabi, Bahrain and Dubai,
  • 1989 Carnatic Music association of North America (CAMANA) invited the artists for a concert tour of America and Canada
  • 1991 Bharathiya Vidhya Bhavan London invited the Sisters for concerts at Bhavan’s Auditorium and a workship for their students. The sisters also gave a concert at Manchester.
  • 1994 Concert tour of Singapore and Malaysia
  • 1995 Indo-American Cultural & Religious Foundation New Jersey invited the sisters for a concert tour across America & Canada for three months.
  • 1998 July Australia by ABHAYAKARAM

L.P. E.P. RECORDS, CASSETTES, COMPACT DISCS:

Bombay Sisters have recorded for H.M.V. and SANGEETHA in L.P. and E.P. Records of Classical music before the advent of Audio Cassettes. The Sisters have achieved the distinction of having given the maximum Audio Cassettes recorded for various companies on variety of subjects in Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. Their Audio Cassettes include subjects on Classical Carnatic Music, Live Concerts, Devotional songs in Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam, Pancharatna Kritis of Saint Thyagaraja, sung at various Kshetras. Most of their Audio Cassettes have been converted to Compact Discs.

The sisters contribution to Tamil classicals and Devotionals are note worthy. Because besides recording a number of Tamil Devotional like: THIRUPUGAZH, THIRUPPAVAI, THIRUVEMBAVAI, DIVYAPRABANDHAM, THIRUMURUGATRUPADAI, VARIOUS ANDHDDHI on different Deities Suprabhadhams, Paasurangal, later Vaggeyakarars, like Oothukadu Venkatasubbiar, Arunachala Kavirayar, Papanasam Sivan, Subbramanya Bharathi Kavignar Kannadasan, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, their singular contribution is the translation of the sanskrit devotionals like LALITHA SAHASRANAMAM, MUKUNDA MAALAI, VISHNU SAHASRANAMAM, VENKATESA SUPRABHATHAM, BHAJAGOVINDAM, NAVAGRAHA SLOKAS, etc., for the benefit of Tamil audience and listeners.

The SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI New Delhi invited them to record research subject of traditional and folk marriage songs for their Archaives, which was later recorded in Audio cassettes for the benefit of Tamil Scholars and music lovers.

HANUMAN CHALISA, AND DEVI MAHATHMIUM (both three volumes each) are some of their important recordings for posterity. The Tamil Version of Lalitha Sahasranamam recorded by Super ‘T’ Cassettes registered an unprecedented record sales for which Super ‘T’ Cassettes presented ‘GOLD DISC’ to the sisters, an achievement never preceded or succeeded by any classical carnatic musician so far. The Tamil Isai Sangham, Karaikudi, at their Silver Jubilee Celebrations, presented the title ISAI KADAL in recognition of the services of the sisters to Tamil Culture and for their expertise. The TAMIL SANGHAM, NEW YORK awarded the title "TAMIL KALAIVANI" to Bombay Sisters in recognition of their lifetime achievement in propagating and enriching Tamil Traditional Music during the Sisters tour of America in 1995.

PHILANTHROPHIC GESTURES:

On the instruction of His Holiness former Jeer of Ahobila Mutt, Srirangam, the Sisters recorded a Cassette of Songs in praise of the presiding Deity of Sri Rangam, Lord Ranganatha, called ‘VYJAYANTHI’ and donated the proceeds of the sale of this cassettes to the construction of ‘MOTTAI GOPURAM’ AT Srirangam. The Sisters recorded two cassettes on BRHAMASWAROOPINI for the Brhmaswaroopini Trust and donated to sale proceeds to the same Trust.

The sisters donated a sum of Rs. 1,00,000 / to the Gnanamandir Trust for the publication of the book "COMPOSITIONS OF THYAGARAJ", compiled and edited by Sri. T.K. Govinda Rao.

The Sisters recorded a cassette titled ‘JAYA JAYA SANKARA HARA HARA SANKARA’ to mark the birth centenary celebrations of KAMAKOTI Jagadguru PARAMACHARYAR, Sri Chandra Sekhara Swamigal and humbly placed the sale proceeds to the kamakoti Peetam.

SERVICES TO THE CAUSE OF PROMOTING YOUNG TALENTS:

The Sisters, having experienced during their early period of their career, the hardships faced by upcoming musicians to get proper exposure, (particularly during the pre era of Corporate Sponsorship for Arts), took a vow that if they reached a position when they are able to contribute to the cause of promoting young talents, they would do so from their earnings. This was the advice of their parent, and to fulfil their desire, Smt. Saroja & Smt. Lalitha founded a Trust, named after their parents "MUKTHAMBARAM TRUST" to foster, nourish and give proper exposure to young, deserving and unexposed or under exposed talents in the field of classical carnatic music, enabling the youth to carry forward the torch of our traditional culture into the 20th century. They are proud that their dream has come true, in the sense, most of the present set of youngsters, who are establishing themselves in the field, have in their initial stage had the support of Mukthambaram Trust. This sponsorship extends to all worthy organisations all over the country.

AWARDS:

  • ISAI MAMANIGAL – by Ulaga Tamil Isai Mandram in 1971
  • MADHURAGANA MANORANJANI – by His Holiness Jeer of Ahobila mutt in 1984
  • SUSWARA SUGALAYA SANGEETHA – by Purandaradasa Thyagaraja Utsava committee in 1985
  • GANAKALA CHAKRAVARTHI – by Calcutta Fine Arts in 1990
  • GANDHARVA GANA JYOTHI – by Sadguru Sandananda Swamigal, Puducottai, in 1991
  • SANGEETHA CHOODAMANI – by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Madras in 1991.
  • KALAIMAMANI – by Govt. of Tamilnadu & Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram in 1992.
  • DEIVEEGA GANA ISAI THENDRAL – by Ragavendra Divine Society, Salem in 1991.
  • SANGEETHA KALA NIPUNA – by Mylapore Fine Arts Club, Madras in 1994.
  • TAMILKKALAIVANI – by Tamil Sangam, Newyork in 1995.
  • SANGEETHA KALA SAGARAM – by His Holiness Sri Sankaracharya Swamigal of Kamakoti Peetam, Kanchipuram, in 1996.
  • SANGITA RATNAKARA SRI CHOWDAIHA MEMORIAL AWARD – by Academy of Music, Bangalore in 1996.
  • SANGEETHA KALA SIROMANI – by Nungambakkam Cultural Academy, Chennai, in 1996.
  • THENISAI KUYILGAL – by Pollachi Tamil Sangam in 1997.
  • SANGITA KALA SAGARAM – by Kalasagaram at Secunderabad in 1997
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