‘Chiltey Roud’ once again proves the urban craving for folk music

Lubaba Mahjabin Prima | Saturday, 21 May 2022

If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song. Folk songs have always had the effect of ripping our hearts out and allowing the raw emotions to erupt. It's interesting to find that even in 21st-century urban life, the appeal of folk songs remains unhindered.

In the latest song of Coke Studio Bangla, Chiltey Roud, the performance of Ripon Kumar Sarkar (Boga) has received widespread acclaim. His part is a modern rendition of "O Ki Ekbar Ashiya," a Bhawaiyan song by Abasuddin Ahmed.

The longing and plead of a loved one for the presence of the other tears apart our souls, and even in busy urban streets or amidst their maddening crowds, we feel terribly alone and broken.

Bangla folk reminds us of crop fields once trodden by our ancestors, peasants and village folks cast down by the cruelty of life.

It tells us the tales of the paths travelled by fakirs and sadhus who forsook domesticity in pursuit of a bigger unity. Folk, by their essence, make us feel in alliance with nature and remind us of the cathartic insignificance of life.

It would be, however, wrong to assume that the sphere of appeal is limited by culture and boundaries. Bob Dylan's timeless appeal and his everlasting youth can be linked to his classic renditions of country music.

The central themes around working-class people's lives connect just perfectly even now. Folk reminds us that even without a shirt on the back or a penny to name, the journey in search of the unknown should remain unhinged.

A repetitive theme of folk music is the search for a home, a place where one feels truly accepted and connected.

Makhzum Khan Shadid, a student of the Military Institute of Science and Technology and an avid listener of folk music says, "Folk tells me that I'm unimportant and so is the pretence of everyday burden." He recalls that once when he felt exhausted in the pretentious modern society, he went to Lalon Academy at Kushtia.

Folk music in Bengal has been mostly practised by artists who never pursued traditional academic learning. Rather, they gained mastery usually through mentoring by senior artists, spiritual practices and community engagement.

Meghmallar Bose, a student of Dhaka University who often visits folk artists, explains that he could never pinpoint the exact mechanism of folk music being so unique. It's rather the peace that it provides which brings him back to the art form every time.

Hence it's no wonder that verses about rivers and fields are still relevant in our lives trapped in concrete and technology, that songs once sung by boatmen and farmers are equally adored by modern city dwellers.

Folk music searches for home and yet, the art itself is a sanctuary for the ever homeless soul of man.

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