Folklores and folktales are deemed to be the comestibles for the scripts of Bollywood flicks, since times memorial! But the thing that has a deeper connect with films, is the desi traditional folk music tadka, that has time and again been witnessed in the, as we call it, Filmy music. Envision Dilip Kumar lip syncing “Nain lad gai hai, toh manwa kasak hoive kari”. And now imagine Ranbir Kapoor singing “Balam Pichkari Joh Tune Mujhe maari, toh seedhi saadhi chori sharabi hogai”. Both are from different eras all together, yet what shines bright sans flickering is the Folk connect they establish amidst the audiences.

Traditional folk music, or ‘Lok Geeti’ have, over the years, been an integral part of Bollywood music, but the frequency, off late, is debatable. During the 60s and 70s, there were  innumerable folk songs used in the films, which had relevance to the story line and characters. But gradually with the evolution of contemporary cinema, the scope and usage of traditional music got limited. Yet if the story demands, and there is an apt setting, the folk derived songs, have a bounty of mass appeal and are without much ado incorporated in the movies.

Still from Balam Pichkari and Jugni Songs
Still from Balam Pichkari and Jugni Songs

Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Shankar-Jaikishan, S.D Burman, O.P Nayyar were, to name a few musical maestros, who tapped the genre and brought it into limelight. Sequentially, ‘Lok-geeti’ got hogged by situational based-character driven-modernized lyrics. And now with the “ultra-modern” lyrics and usage of slangs and puns in songs, the Folk connect, has a diminishing bondage with the films.

One of the rudimentary glitches, with the usage of rustic folk music in mainstream cinema, is the problem with the dialects. They are in languages not everyone knows or understands. Hence improvisation and translation to languages which are mass-accepted and have mass appeal, becomes elementary. Yet overcoming such debacles, are  the well-gifted lyricists who put the old folk-wine in new bottles, and pen down, modern yet folksy-in-essence songs that are revamped effectively.

Reviving the culture are Music Directors like A.R Rahaman, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Ismail Darbar, Piyush Mishra, Sneha Khanwalkar , Ram Sampath, and many more, who revisit the superabundant arena, and bring for the audiences, deep-rooted, folk music from different nook and crannies, all across the globe.

Tracks like “Genda Phool” (Delhi 6), “Dhol Baaje” (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), “Chaiyya Chaiyya” (Dil Se), “Bhumro” (Mission Kashmir), “Raana Ji” (Gulaal), brought back the folk songs into mainstream Bollywood music. And now “Balam Pichkari” (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani), “Ambarsariya” ( Fukrey), “Bijli Aaye Ya nah Aaye” (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) and songs from Gangs of Wasseypur, are topping charts and making waves amongst music lovers.

The quiddity of ‘Lok-Geet’ is retained and the traditional touches to the songs surmount to the entertainment factor in Bollywood films. With shows like Coke Studio and other continuous attempts to invigorate the old rustic folk music, one thing that can be surely assured is that the tradition is here to stay, always. This in turn, is rekindling the bondage Folk Songs have with the Filmy Music. One cannot simply take the folk roots away from the Indian Cinema especially Bollywood.

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