Coke Studio, the MTV show that has made folk cool, late last year brought Moner Manush, the iconic Lalan Fakir composition, to national attention when it got Anupam Roy to recreate it with foottapping beats and a resonant bass line.
Parts of the song were translated to Hindi by Javed Akhtar, which were sung by Babul Supriyo, while Satyaki Banerjee voiced the original version to the dotara. Baul — the minstrel music of West Bengal and a rustic Poush Mela essential — has got a hi-tech revival across plush lounges and cultural hotspots of the country as musicians and bands realise the connecting power of its simple lyrics and liberated life philosophy that defies conventions. Particularly, in these times of growing intolerance.
“Why do you keep looking for the Man of the Heart/ in the forests, in solitude? Turn your attention this time/To the grace and beauty within your soul.” So begins one of the songs encapsulating the dominant feelings of our own times.
It may have been triggered by the box-office success of Gautam Ghoshʼs 2010 biopic Moner Manush, on the life of the legendary mystic.Or even earlier, to the wanderings of the Bauls and fakirs beyond their akharas in hamlets like
Gorobhanga, Kenduli and Joydeb.
But tday age-old Baul songs like Tomay hrid majhare rakhibo, Somoy gele sadhon hoben, Dhoinnyo dhoinnyo, Sundori komola, Shaaper bish, Ami opar hoye, Kala re, Khachar bhetor, Tui je amar and many more have metamorphosed into numbers hummed by Gen Z with the same élan as the latest rock or hip hop hits. “The celebration of the liberated soul in the folk philosophy as propounded by Lalon Shai and his disciples which influenced even Tagore’s views on emancipation is finding favour in today’s progressive society,” says Sanhita Das of Folk Foundation.
“The folk movement has indeed been invigorated world over and its music and With inputs from Sameek Bhattacharya way of life is inspiring a large segment of our popular culture,” she adds.