Are You Folking With Me?

Banno <g data-gr-id="81">tera</g> swagger, <g data-gr-id="82">laage</g> sexy!!
The first time I heard the song (Tanu Weds Manu Returns) I was at a wedding (no surprises there!) late last year. Wait, did a few eyebrows just go up? Well, perks of being friends with the writer-composer who came up with this little gem. It was the big fat Bengali wedding of a very dear friend and a whole lot of us college mates had trooped down in our finery to partake of the feast. It was like a <g data-gr-id="100">mini reunion</g>, and you know how those things can get – noisy, boisterous, crazy! The groom, our friend, had just finished pouring shots down our <g data-gr-id="174">throats,</g> when Vayu took me aside quietly. He’s always been choosy about his music, willing to share his music only with people he genuinely wants an opinion from. And, for me, it’s been a bit of an honour to be one of those. So, when he fished out his phone and told me he was going to play me a song that’s up for release, I could barely contain my excitement! It was only a scratch recording, the audio not of the best quality. The opening verse had a lot of wordplay I couldn’t quite <g data-gr-id="177">catch,</g> because my knowledge of Hindi/Punjabi isn’t particularly great. I must’ve looked a little underwhelmed because I remember him saying, “Mal, wait for the hook”, and the moment it came up, I gave out a little yelp and exclaimed, “I know this! This is the Vicco song”! And, Vayu burst out laughing.

Of course it was. One of the Viccovajradanti TVC’s from the good old Doordarshan days had used this song. As had a Sunny Deol-ManishaKoirala film called Dushmani (1998), where Neena Gupta sings it during Koirala’s character’s wedding. And, when I hummed it to Maa, she said she’d heard it being sung at many wedding functions. Who’d have thought that a popular ladies’ sangeet-type song could have such swag and be turned into something sexy? I doff my hat to Vayu and his partner <g data-gr-id="114">Tanishk</g> for giving a humble, rustic song such a twist. But, come to think of it, this isn’t the first time Bollywood has been inspired by regional folk and made it its own, right? So, here are my favourite folk-inspired songs from Hindi films, perfect for your Sunday playlist!

Ni Sultana Re (Pyar Ka Mausam, 1969)
This is the song that introduced me to the infallible charm of Shashi Kapoor. I remember it was one of those Sunday morning episodes of Rangoli while I was still of single <g data-gr-id="106">digit-age</g>. Mohd. Rafi’s mellifluous voice felt like saccharine to the ears and coupled with Kapoor’s smile, it was lethal! But, it wasn’t until much later that I found out it’s inspired from a Bengali folk song. It was, incidentally, another Doordarshan programme where a popular folk <g data-gr-id="107">artiste</g> sang a song about a village called Churuliya in Burdwan district of West Bengal and its people missing the great poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. The lines went “Dukhu <g data-gr-id="109">Miyan</g> re, o DukhuMiyan/To mar <g data-gr-id="110">laige</g> <g data-gr-id="111">kaand</g> <g data-gr-id="112">cheamar</g> <g data-gr-id="113">dukhi</g> Churuliya”. Dukhu Miyan was Nazrul’s nickname, and Churuliya his birthplace.

Chalein Hum Do Jan Sair Ko <g data-gr-id="83">Chalein</g> (Yugpurush, 1998)
Not many of you would remember this film. I wouldn’t either if it weren’t for this particular song. It’s a melodious ditty that talks about friendship and is <g data-gr-id="88">picturised</g> on Nana Patekar and Jackie Shroff. And, has been inspired from a very popular Bengali folk song. Those of you who’ve seen Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali would surely remember Indira <g data-gr-id="89">Thakuran</g>, the shriveled, old lady. Remember the song she sings while lighting the lamp after the sun sets? “Hori din <g data-gr-id="91">tohgalo</g> <g data-gr-id="92">shon</g> <g data-gr-id="93">dhya</g> <g data-gr-id="96">holo</g> <g data-gr-id="94">paar</g> koro <g data-gr-id="95">amare</g>” (Dear lord, the day is over, <g data-gr-id="152">night</g> is here, take me to the other side, will you?). Well, that’s where composer Rajesh Roshan sought inspiration from!

Galyat Sankli Sonyachi (Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin, 1991)
I’m quite sure that each of us, at some point, has danced to this peppy song whose opening line literally translates to <g data-gr-id="137">“golden</g> chain around the neck, who is this girl”. Either at a <g data-gr-id="135">wedding,</g> or at a cultural event, or on a cruise in Goa! It’s an extremely popular Koli song, and props to Mahesh Bhatt for staying true to the roots and shooting the song in a Koli (fisherfolk from the west coast of the country) setting!

<g data-gr-id="84">Soona</g> Mann Ka Aangan (Parineeta, 2005)
I must admit first up that this song isn’t technically inspired from a folk song. It derives from one of Tagore’s classics, but it’ll be a little wrong on my part to label Tagore’s music as folk. Although, Tagore is so intrinsic to the Bengali community and such an important part of our culture, that it his creations are as popular as folk songs. This particular Rabindra sangeet is “<g data-gr-id="102">Phooley</g> <g data-gr-id="103">phooley</g> <g data-gr-id="147"><g data-gr-id="104">doley</g> <g data-gr-id="105">doley</g></g>”, and the film’s composer, Shantanu Moitra, did a fine job of translating it almost literally and getting Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghosal to render it beautifully. Took nothing away from the Bengali original. Tagore would’ve been proud!  

Jugni (Cocktail, 2012)
Now, I’m a huge fan of the Pakistani Coke Studio. Their music smells of earth, is organic, and brilliantly produced! They take pride in their folk <g data-gr-id="128"><g data-gr-id="97">artistes</g>,</g> and have an uncanny knack of blending their music with more mainstream styles. Over the <g data-gr-id="127">years</g> I’ve come across some great <g data-gr-id="98">artistes</g> on their episodes – Zeb&Haniya, Fariha Pervez, Javed Bashir, and so on. One of the episodes saw an actress-rockstarMeesha Shafi collaborating with a folk <g data-gr-id="99">artiste</g>, Arif Lohar.

It was a terrific song called <g data-gr-id="85">Jugni</g> and it was <g data-gr-id="119">matter</g> of seconds before I fell in love with it. As did the rest of the Indian subcontinent. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed with its Indian version. As they say, sometimes great things shouldn’t be tampered with, or something like that! But, do listen to the original when you can. I guarantee you’ll smell the <g data-gr-id="86">mitti</g> ki <g data-gr-id="87">khushboo</g>! 

The author is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guy
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