They are the disciples of Hindustani classical maestros Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi, but the Kedia brothers, Mormukut and Manoj, known for their jugalbandi on the sitar and sarod, say it is a daily struggle between music practice and work at their clothes shop here.
The two, who are in their 40s, regret the lack of support as, even after showing extraordinary talent, not only the Jharkhand government but the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) too has remained indifferent towards them.
"Who wants to sell clothes? We hardly get time for riyaz (practice). After waking up early in the morning, we do riyaz for two hours and in the night after closing the shop we do riyaz for another two hours. But because of all this, we cannot give time to our families," Manoj, the younger of the two, told IANS.
The duo have been struggling to continue their cultural pursuit, often forcing them to eke out a living by spending long hours at their clothes shop in Bara Chowk of Giridih.
The sons of tabla player Shambhu Dayal Kedia belong to the Senia Maihar Gharana and they started learning the sitar and sarod at an early age - Mormukut at nine and Manoj at seven, respectively, under the guidance of Praja Nandy, Acharya Raja Ram Shukla and their father.
Impressed with their talent, Padma Vibhushan Ustad Ali Akbar Ali Khan formally made them his disciples in 1975. They also took 'taleem' from Annapurna Devi, daughter of the legendry Ustad Allaudin Khan Saheb of Maihar.
They have performed with legends like Pandit Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Samta Prasad and Pandit Swapan Choudhury. The two have often been compared by critics with the duo of Ustab Ali Akbar Khan and sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar.
Mormukut told IANS that they were currently under the guidance of Pandit Sunil Mukherjee, a sarod maestro from Delhi.
"Whatever we have achieved so far, be it performing with music legends abroad or in India, it's just because of the blessing of our gurus. The minimal government support or recognition that we have got has not contributed much," he said.
"Since the creation of Jharkhand, the state government has felicitated several artists. The ICCR has sponsored several artists for foreign tours, but they never sponsored us despite the fact that we are the only sitar-sarod duet players in their panel," said the sitarist.
"Wherever we have performed, people were left amazed after listening to us. They said their perception of Jharkhand being a culturally backward state changed."
He said they had performed in all major cities of India and abroad, including the US, China and Germany.
Mormukut topped in Rashtriya Yuva Mahotsav in 1996 and was awarded the National Award while Manoj is a faculty topper of Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad, with three gold medals.
The torchbearers of the legacy of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi hope help would come their way soon, allowing them to keep their art alive.
(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)