Folk Tales

Initiatives are being made by musicians and organisations to revive the folk culture in the country.

Nearly 15 years ago, Raghu Dixit formed a band called Antaragni while living in Bangalore. Until they disbanded in 2004, Antaragni played an interesting mix of folk, Indian classical, and various forms of Western music including rock and pop. The band gained the man with a Masters degree in Microbiology a credible amount of recognition, and there was no doubting his musical skills. It was, however, when he formed The Raghu Dixit Project with a primary focus on folk-rock, although in multiple languages that Dixit became one of the country's foremost contemporary folk musicians.

At a time when new genres are being introduced to music lovers in India by the dozens, the more traditional ones, so to speak, aren't being given quite as much importance. Folk music, for instance, although still played by a number of musicians, is only being heard by the masses through musicians such as Dixit and Angaraag Mahanta, better known as Papon, in its contemporary form. Consequently, the British Council has launched an extensive three-year programme, Folk Nations, to take the focus back to this form of music. The initiative will involve musicians from South Asia and the UK. "There are a number of countries involved with great folk traditions and a fantastic heritage that is not appreciated enough," says Tasneem Vahanvaty, head of business development with the British Council in Mumbai.

The most recent of the events held under this umbrella was a showcase of close to 10 folk acts at Blue Frog, Lower Parel, on Friday. Among these were Dixit and Papon, of course, but also acts that a majority of the audience were not likely to have heard before, including the Tetseo Sisters from Nagaland, Manipuri singer Akhu Chingangbam, and Saurav Moni and Tajdar Junaid from Kolkata. This particular line-up reflects the entire programme's intention of balancing out the contemporary acts with the traditional and the well-known with the lesser-known.

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