Indian classical and Bollywood vocalist Shilpa Rao and her jazz pianist brother, Anurag Naidu, are each other’s biggest supporters

“God, you really don’t know anything,” interrupts Shilpa Rao, 36, as her brother Anurag Naidu, 31, tries to explain why the two of them have different last names. “Rao is our Andhra surname and Naidu specifies the community. All four of us (the parents and siblings) have always had different last names, so it’s mind-boggling for the passport office,” is Shilpa’s on-point explanation.

“But her name wasn’t Shilpa! It was Apeksha in school! Tell her!” nudges Anurag, and sets the tone.

Daddy dearest

Their father, armed with an MA in classical music, was a stickler for practising regularly.

“We were a unique family: our parents would rather buy a piano than a house. And because we are all wacky, we fit together,” Shilpa says.

I’ve got your back

Shilpa was the protective older sibling – she took Anurag to his first Western classical music teacher in Mumbai. “The switch from Indian to Western classical happened because of her,” says Anurag.

But it was Anurag who inspired Shilpa. He was practising from the time he was three years old!

“Our parents would rather buy a piano than a house” -Shilpa Rao

Match the melody

Not ones to express how they feel, the care comes through their actions: Shilpa bought Anurag his first piano, besides teaching him the Mumbai local travel basics!

Lockdown diaries

Quarantined together, Anurag has discovered steamed fish made by Shilpa to be really good.

Shilpa, six-and-a-half, and Anurag, 2, at their house in Jamshedpur in 1990 ()

Ask an impressed Anurag if he’s picked up the recipe, and Shilpa laughs. “He has only picked up the food and eaten it. ”

Delhi’s former karaoke brother-sister duo, Tanya and Karan Nambiar, on working together and having each other’s back

Brother-sister duo Karan and Tanya Nambiar hosted karaoke sessions together for nearly seven years (Shalini Nambiar)

If you’ve attended a karaoke night in Delhi in the last decade, you would have seen brother-sister duo Tanya and Karan Nambiar in action. Or, if they are to be believed, you have witnessed them fight. For that comes naturally when you work with family, no?

“Karan understands me better than my husband!” -Tanya Nambiar

That #KaraokeLife

“Half of Delhi-NCR has seen us fight during our karaoke nights. People would walk up to us and ask if we had fought. It was difficult to separate the personal and professional,” laughs Tanya, now 33, a musician, voice-over artist and co-founder of El Diablo sauces.

“We survived living and working together – I think those seven years of hosting karaoke cemented our bond. We proved all those wrong who said one shouldn’t work with family,” quips Karan, 31, now a voice-over artist and partner at Captain Grub and Big City Pizza.

Knowing each other’s strengths professionally and personally worked for them – Karan worked the console, while Tanya handled the crowd.

“When we had technical issues, he would never lose his cool. I would be flipping out. And then we would fight over things like the mic not working,” recalls Tanya. On some nights, their mother would send them off, saying, “Don’t fight today, okay?”

Picture perfect

Growing up, physical fights were abundant, but they were taught to have each other’s back. Much to their parents’ delight, they were in the same school and band.

“We shared the same mic as we both had similar vocal texture. It was the perfect Kodak moment for our parents,” laughs Tanya. And it was Karan who tried music (with his band Guillotine) and food (Captain Grub), before Tanya tested the waters herself.

Tanya, 3, and Karan, 1, at their Delhi home in 1990 ()

But that’s where their similarities end. Karan is a risk-taker like their mom, while Tanya is practical and cautious, like their father. “I feel that Karan understands me better than my husband! I tend to overthink and jump 15 steps and overeact. Karan calms me down because he’s positive and realistic. We’re like Dee Dee and Dexter!” Tanya laughs.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder

No longer living in the same house, Tanya has become even more motherly and protective of Karan. “I still think of him as a baby, which annoys him at times,” she laughs, claiming she can be controlling.

“She’s never interfering,” interrupts Karan. “If I crash a car, she’ll cover up, although she can’t drive herself!” She’s always checking on him when he’s travelling, also because he nods off at airports and is forgetful! “Well, he can’t forget Rakhi this year now,” Tanya laughs.

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From HT Brunch, August 2, 2020

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