That's all folk
A concert this evening will showcase the rich diversity of Indian folk traditions, from Bhojpuri, Punjabi, to Marwari tunes
Fun fact. Jhumka gira re, the wildly popular Bollywood classic, isn’t originally the coquettish song as Asha Bhonsle sings it to be in the 1966 movie, Mera Saaya. On the contrary, it’s an age-old Bhojpuri tune about a woman who gets mercilessly beaten up by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and husband for losing a piece of jewellery at a market in Bareilly. Maybe you didn’t know that. But that’s not your fault. It’s just that in the urban confines of Mumbai, we tend to be disconnected from the wealth of folk music that emanates from every corner of this vast country. “People in small towns, even the youngsters, take more pride in it. I mean, I once met a doctor in Indore who taught me a bhajan,” says Pranita NP, who will perform at a concert called Sounds of India along with Banat Kaur Bagga and Yugm, where they will present traditional Marwari, Bhojpuri and Punjabi tunes, apart from Urdu ghazals.
But the interesting thing is that while they keep the musical compositions intact, the musicians will play around with the words to fit them into a more progressive, 21st-century context. “A lot of these songs have embedded racist and sexist themes, unfortunately. I like to stay away from that,” Bagga says.
Banat Kaur Bagga
Be that as it may, there are also age-old emotions of love and despair that are expressed in the tracks. For instance, Bhojpur was a part of the ancient Silk Route. “So there are endless songs that talk about how a woman is longing for her husband, who’s gone away to trade goods,” Pranita says, adding that despite the sexism and racism spoken about in the preceding paragraph, there are far-sighted progressive messages too.
“There’s one song where a woman is talking about taking her in-laws to court for assaulting her, and another, where an old woman is complaining about being married off to a young boy. She wants a partner her age, who can be her intellectual equal,” Pranita explains.
There was thus depth in what the ancient songwriters were saying, even if their perceptions were sometimes blinkered by prevailing prejudices. So keep an open mind when you’re attending this concert. And lend an ear to the sounds that emanate from the Indian hinterland, even as you sit in the venue that’s in the urban jungle called Andheri West.
ON Today, 7.30 pm
AT Harkat Studios, JP Road, Andheri West.
Cost Rs 300
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