Folk music in India has roots as deep as its culture and civilisation. Every country has folk songs passed from generation to generation, creating a sense of bonding and brotherhood in that particular community. With a history like India’s, it is natural to have a mine of folk music that narrates tales of the old days, community, nature, humanity and more. Times have changed, and so has the music. However, there are several beautiful folk songs that remain buried underneath an exploding plethora of new genre music. Some old numbers even remain inspirations for new creations, while some songs still retain their magic, and have been converted into soul-soothing, foot-tapping tunes with newer instruments but have the same essence, and yet elude our generation. We list here some uber amazing renditions of folk songs to (re)introduce you to the cultural genre.
Kali Teri Gutt by Diljit Dosanjh for MTV Unplugged
Originally sung by Asa Singh Mastana, this song has been performed by numerous singers, including Usha Uthup and Hari & Sukhmani. However, Diljit's heart melting voice gives the song a softness to this peppy number that uplifts the song completely.
The song is about a woman's beauty, talking about her 'paranda' and 'gutt' which translates to ribbon that is tied in the braid of a woman's hair in Punjab.
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Ranjhaniyu by Parle Patel, Pritee Varsani
Much has not been explored in the area of Gujarati folk culture and music, as there are several misconceptions among the public about the state. However, Parle Patel who happens to be one of the most influential Asian vloggers in the UK, has initiated a new movement of making some fantastic foot tapping numbers, re inventing old folk songs with new instruments and beats. ‘Ranjhaniyu’ is a traditional song about the beauty of Lord Krishna and how the temple of Shyamdaji is always full of vibrant energy and sounds. While this is one of the devotional songs, the modern twist by Patel sounds like a treat when paired with Pritee Varsani’s raw, bassy vocals.
Rudine Rangeeli by Karsan Sagathia for Coke Studio
Another native Gujarati song that praises Lord Krishna, and his flute to be specific, Rudine Rangeeli is one of the oldest folk songs of Gujarat. Played in Navratri festival across the globe, Rudine Rangeeli was re created by Salim-Suleiman duo for Coke Studio. The powerful and crude vocals by Karsan Sagathia with traditional as well as modern instruments are followed by the soothing, velvety smooth vocals by Salim himself. This song is perfect to start with if one wants to be introduced to the Gujarati (and perhaps even Rajasthani) folk music.
O Rhosi by Tetseo sisters
The Tetseo Sisters have been sharing a bit of their culture with the rest of the world for close to two decades now, through Lis, the traditional songs of Nagaland. Lis are generally inspired from real life and are an important part of Nagaland’s culture. Even though nobody understands Chokri – the language in which it is sung, O Rhosi speaks of blooming flowers of the season. It is a fresh tune that reverberates in the nature with the four sisters singing the number with number of drums, piano, soundboxes and other instruments in the background.
Laung Gawacha by Quratulain Baloch & Haroon Shahid for Coke Studio (Pakistan)
This has been originally written by Khwaja Pervaiz who was a songwriter for Punjabi films and the song has gone through many versions. EDM producer Nucleya has released his version of the folk song, featuring Avneet Khurmi, which became a massive hit among the masses. However, Quratulain Baloch has her own charm which is seen in this number. Part of the song is Baliye which is sung by Haroon that is fast in pace, and fits perfectly in contrast with Baloch’s version of Laung Gawacha. Warning: This song is a legit earworm.
Kesariya Balam by Mame Khan for Rock & Roots Project
Easily one of the most popular Rajasthani folk songs, Kesariya Balam was originally sung by Padam Shri awardee folk singer Allah Jilai Bai in the Durbar of Maharaja Ganga Singh ji. However, this version by Mame Khan - who is presently one of the most popular Indian folk singers - manages to instill the same feeling of pride and love with which this song (for welcoming Rajput warriors) was first written.
Chaap Tilak by Abida Parveen & Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for Coke Studio (Pakistan)
Originally written by 14th-century Sufi saint and poet Amir Khusro, the song has been performed so many times by talented artists over the years, that it is difficult to pick one version of it. Lata Mangeshkar’s version of this for the movie Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki has rather been unforgettable. In this Coke Studio rendition, Abida Parveen and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan have performed this song in a way that encapsulates its adulatory tones and soothes the listener.
Rumaal Maati Baani
In literal terms, Maati Baani means the language of the earth. Consisting of the husband-wife duo of Hindustani vocalist Nirali Kartik and composer/music producer Kartik Shah has created a unique niche for itself. Their music is a soulful combination of Indian folk music, classical music with funk and blues music.
Rumaal is one of the most earthy and yet almost dreamy version of ‘Resham ka rumaal’ a version of which has been sung by the legendary Ila Arun and became an overnight hit. Sung by Nirali Kartik in her inimitable voice, Rumaal is a collaboration with Rajasthani artist Bhutta Khan and is a must listen.