Saturday, July 11, 2015

Maraa a media and arts collective Bangalore - Introducing Kalpana Patowary Songs of separation and longing.

“I want my folk music to travel outside our villages. Yes it’s safe there in its original form, but is of no use unless we make the world hear our very soulful and meditative music.”

As the city expands, the lines between outsider and local blur.  The city is comprised of innumerable migrant workers, who scattered across corporate offices and construction sites, engaged in a variety of activity that sustains the city. What is the experience of migration, how does it smell, taste and sound? Often, memories are kept alive through music, the longing for home, the distance from home, arrivals and departures are punctuated by the song.

Maraa, a media and arts collective based in Bangalore, has been triggering questions around migration and urbanization, by acknowledging the influx of workers from different parts of the country to Bangalore, since 2009. As the city consciously tries to invisibles workers, under the guise of speedy progress and rapid development, maraa’s work has created passages to meet the worker in his different states of mind through artistic interventions that coerce audiences to confront the presence of the worker. After all, Bangalore is evidently a migrant city, given its diversity and cosmopolitanism. The IT sector is largely migrant, and so are workers who build the metro. We intend to create a third space for conversation with the migrant, the outsider, the traveller through music.

In this context, we present a series of performances by Kalpana Patowary.  Often hailed as the Bhojpuri queen, Kalpana Patowary’s body of work is vast, exploring the intersections between Bhojpuri music and other folk traditions, including blues and jazz.

Despite mainstream success, within the Bollywood film industry, her interest is in studying various lesser-known folk forms. Her recent album, ‘The legacy of Bhikhari Thakur’ is the first recording of the work of Bhikhari Thakur. Bhikhari Thakur was an Indian playwright, folk singer and activist who developed the folk theatre form of ‘Bidesia’. Bidesia, refers to migration- in the context of Bhikhari Thakur’s work, this refers not only to the geographical dislocation, but also to a larger sense of cultural alienation, experienced by the migrant. The album comprising of nine songs, brings to life Bhikhari’s Thakur’s work, reiterating its relevance in a contemporary context that is marked by the flows of migration.

Other than Bidesia, Kalpana has also been studying other folk forms from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, including Birha, Purvi, Pachra, Kajri, Sohar, Vivah-geet, Chaita and Nautanki. Her intent is to experiment with various styles, including jazz and blues, reinterpreting these forms musically, and taking them to diverse audiences.

As part of season 4 of MTV@coke studio she presented ‘Khadi Birha’ (folk songs sung by the Ahir’s in Bihar and Nepal) that narrate experiences of migration, during the colonial period, when a huge population of Bhojpuri people left Indian shores to work in sugarcane, cocoa, jute and other plantations in Caribbean countries. Through this body of songs, Kalpana explored the diasporic tradition that connects India to the Caribbean.

Her experimentation with various folk forms, led to the release of a world music album, titled “The Sacred Scriptures of Monikut” about the reformer, wandering philosopher, saint and poet, Mahapurush Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Mahapurush Srimanta Madhavdeva from Assam. The album featured collaborationswith Trilok Gurtu, an indian percussionist, Guru Rewben Mashangva – considered the father of Naga folk blues, PAPON Angarag Mahanta, a singer from assam and Zubeen Garg, a singer and producer from Assam.

Currently, she is in the process of putting together an anthology of Birha- tracing its development across UP and Bihar.

Kalpana’s songs have traveled vast distances, capturing new imaginations and interpretations of migration, through musical innovation and experimentation.

Performance Schedule:

Kalpana Patowary Live at Windmills Craftworks
Date: 24th and 25th July
Venue: Windmills Craftworks,
Time: No. 331, 5B Road, EPIP Zone, Next L&T Infotech, Whitefield, 
For details, contact: 9880159484 / 9880755875

Purabiyan Taan:
Public performance
Date: 26th July
Time: 5 pm- 7 pm
Venue: Ravindra Kalak Shetra, Behind Town Hall
For more details, contact: 9880159484/ 9880755875

In conversation: Kalpana Patowary at Aziz Premji University
Date: 27th July
Time: 5 pm
Venue: PES Institute of Technology Campus, Pixel Park, B Block, Electronics City,, Beside Nice Road, Hosur Road
For more details, contact: 9880159484/ 9880755875

**Performance for the 28th to be confirmed.


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