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Sunil Kumar Gurjar opens up about Rajasthani folk music and poetry

Updated on: 02 December,2023 12:09 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Devashish Kamble |

A poet-turned-songwriter from Rajasthan brings his unfiltered, grassroots style of music to the big city

Sunil Kumar Gurjar opens up about Rajasthani folk music and poetry

Rahgir performs in traditional folk attire during his journey through Rajasthan

Growing up, understanding poetry and deciphering what the poet was trying to convey through intricately woven words was a rollercoaster ride for this writer. As we grow older and wiser, the same complexity becomes a benchmark to gauge a composition’s quality. Sunil Kumar Gurjar AKA Rahgir, a singer-songwriter from Sikar, Rajasthan, tells us he couldn’t disagree more. The poet, who is in the city for a solo performance today shares, “Music for the masses need not translate to lazy music. If a song makes you scan the dictionary to make sense of every line, how will you truly enjoy the experience of listening? Sometimes the songs with the simplest words can evoke the deepest emotions in you.”

A moment from the music video of Rahgira mila Kabir se. Pic Courtesy/YoutubeA moment from the music video of Rahgira mila Kabir se. Pic Courtesy/Youtube

Rahgir’s repertoire of about 50 songs that includes hits like Kaccha ghada and Mere gaon aaoge, speaks volumes about the influence of Rajasthani folklore and poetry on his works. Like many folk musicians, the artiste quotes Kabir, the poet-saint in his songs, but with an interesting caveat. The composition Rahgira mila Kabir se is a conversation between the musician and Kabir, where he asks the saint to rethink his poems. Referring to Kabir’s lines that translate to “Do not strive to be great like a date palm tree, as it neither gives shade to travellers nor allows its fruit to be plucked with ease,” Rahgir responds, “The tree was once shorter, its foliage providing shade to many. Perhaps they plucked all its fruits and didn’t bother watering it, and the tree grew taller in disdain.”

Sunil Kumar GurjarSunil Kumar Gurjar

When asked if his recent tryst with Instagram fame will change this bold and candid style of writing, the artiste notes, “Fame was never the ultimate goal. I have been backpacking across the country armed with a guitar and a few friends even before people knew me. That’s how I got my name, Rahgir [traveller in Hindi]. With a wider reach, I do receive some brickbats every now and then for my frank perspectives, but I will continue writing the way I do. I want to stay true to myself.”

Rahgir signs off with his reminiscences of his brief visits to Mumbai, adding, “Mumbai has always welcomed me with open arms. I would busk on the streets of Juhu and Carter Road in 2017. It has been a while since then, but I still remember how folks would always stop by and leave some words of encouragement for me. That was, and continues to be, the biggest reward for me as an artiste.”

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