“We are happy and satisfied. We never expected that we will reach this level. In fact, we did not have the idea of making music a profession,” say noted vocalists Bombay Sisters Saroja and Lalitha.
Having sung together for almost five decades, Saroja and Lalitha have a deep sense of love and commitment to each other.
Speaking to News Today, Saroja, says, “Before our marriage, we could practise any time. Later, we had to adjust and look after our families. But both our spouses are accommodating. When my husband Rajaram was the chief secretary of Lalit Kala Akademi, he would prepare coffee and bring it to us. There was no room for ego. Even when Lalitha’s husband, advocate Chandran, underwent a surgery in December 1990, he stated that we should not give up on any show because of this.”
Ask them their favourite moment in their career, the sisters say, “We were given Sangeeth Natak Akademi award by former President A P J Abdul Kalam. During the event, we got a half-an-hour slot to perform. Since Kalam used to write songs, we picked up one of his songs. During the kutcheri, when we announced that we were going to sing a song written by APJ, his face lit up and he came forward to listen carefully. It was a memorable moment for us.”
“Nearly two years later, when our alma mater – South Indian Education Society High School (SIES), Matunga, in Mumbai, was celebrating its 75th anniversary, we were honoured for our contributions in the Carnatic field. It was Kalam who presented the award, and to our surprise, he recognised us,” they chorus.
Asked why they have not changed their name from Bombay Sisters to Madras Sisters, they say, “When we came to this place, we were living in Mylapore. Two houses away, one of our neighbours, who thought we sang well, told our father to take us to Ambattur Mouna Swamigal of Buvaneshwari Math for Navarathri. After our performance, Swamigal wrote on a paper, ‘Bombai Sahodarigal, Ashirwatham panren’ and told us to be known by this name. It was a great blessing for us.”
All the Suddha Madhyama ragas are favourite with Saroja and the Prati Madhyama ragas are Lalitha’s favourite.