A folked-up concert

Updated: Apr 30, 2020, 10:00 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Listen to Bollywood stars come together for a digital gig to support folk artistes

Folk musicians in Rajasthan have lost livelihood due to tourism being stalled
Folk musicians in Rajasthan have lost livelihood due to tourism being stalled

It is a truth universally acknowledged that folk musicians from Rajasthan have been hot property worldwide over the past few years. Many have been jet-setting off to places like the US, performing gigs with the likes of Royston Abel and Salim-Sulaiman. Even if you visit one of the touristy places in the state, you'll find local artistes performing outside hotels for their daily bread. But, that source of livelihood has come to a screeching halt. The hotels are shut. The tourists are gone. And no one knows when stage performances will be possible again. So, folk musicians across the country, and not just in Rajasthan, have headed back to their villages hoping to weather this financial storm.

It's for them that music company Believe Entertainment has joined hands with NGO Anahad Foundation to organise an ongoing digital festival called Let's Folk Together. It features around 20 Bollywood and independent musicians including Shankar Mahadevan, Amit Trivedi, Vishal Dadlani, Raghu Dixit and Mame Khan performing 15-minute sets aimed at lending folk musicians a helping hand. We speak to Salim Merchant, who's also part of the line-up, about what he's planned for his routine and he tells us, "My brother [Sulaiman] and I will play Yeh honsla from the movie Dor, Aashayein from Iqbal and Ali maula from Kurbaan."

Salim Merchant
Salim Merchant

But Merchant also tells us that he'd prefer that the spotlight is on folk artistes themselves instead of on mainstream artistes. "You know, I have been organising these private folk concerts where the musicians log in straight from their villages and perform. It's amazing to see how they shoot everything on iPhones and have become comfortable with emails and WeTransfers. They even wear masks to dress appropriately for the present pandemic, and the whole thing is teaching them how to adapt to the changing times," he says, pointing out how right now, necessity is the mother of invention for everyone.

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