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Amrita Prasad
Friday, 8 February 2019

Nandesh Umap and group will present folk music at Ruhaniyat on Sunday

His name is synonymous with Indian folk music today. And that’s because Nandesh Umap, playback singer, theatre artist, composer and songwriter, refuses to bask in the fame of his father, legendary folk artist late Lokshahir Vitthal Umap.
While growing up, Nandesh had watched the dedication of his father towards the rich Indian folk music. He began to perform at the tender age of 8 with Vitthalji and continues to perform extensively in India and abroad. The artist will be in the city on Sunday to perform at the 18th edition of Ruhaniyat, an Indian sufi and mystical music festival organised by Banyan Tree where he, along with his group, will present the act titled ‘Invoking the Feminine Energy with Gondhal, Jagar, Bharud.’

Giving us a peek into these folk music forms, Nandesh says that Gondhal, Bharud and Jagran are Maharashtrian folk arts and folk literature has been kept alive by Maharashtrian saints. “Gondhal is a ritualistic folk art in which the performers, known as Gondhali, invoke the deities for prosperity and health. The art form is performed at home when there are auspicious occasions like weddings and thread ceremonies. For this, instruments like sambal, tuntuna, taal and manjira are used. Bharud too is one of the important folk arts of Maharashtra, which is still alive. The art actually tells the common man to stay away from vices and worldly enchantments,” he informs.

“The artists play the tuntuna, a stringed instrument, during Jagran performances. The Jagrans are performed throughout the night and the artists keep singing bhajans and reciting stories revolving around gods and goddesses,” he adds. 

Nandesh appreciates Ruhaniyat for bringing such unique musicians and genres from around the world for the event. “The melange of different music styles and genres presented as fusion is amazing. The musical event is also providing a platform for these art forms to reach people of all age groups. And, getting Gondhal, Bharud and Jagran along with Western musicians and instruments is a phenomenal idea. We performed the same act in Mumbai last year and Hyderabad and Bengaluru this year, and people have loved the act. The audience in Pune is aware of music and are very critical too, but we are really looking forward to performing here,” he says.

Nandesh has recently launched his first solo Marathi ghazal album Ti Yaad Sajanachi which was written by his father. He composed and sang the ghazals to pay tribute to his father who passed away a couple of years ago. 
When asked how popular Indian folk music is in India and the West and his attempts at popularising it, he says that when he performed (folk music) in London last year, he got a really good response from the audience. “I felt very happy about it because you’ll see a lot of Hindustani classical musicians and Kathak dancers performing in different parts of the world, but there are very few Indian folk artists performing on a global stage. Hence the ratio of Indian folk music/art being performed outside Indian is very low when compared to Indian classical music/dance,” he adds. 

Nandesh has given interviews on radio channels in Mauritius, conducted workshops on folk music in London, and also taught children about our folk art and music there. “I want to keep this tradition of Marathi folk music alive and I am finding different ways of doing it. Today, with tools like YouTube, and social media, people have easy access to folk music to listen and learn about them,” quips he. 

He has a very close association with theatre and in fact, it is said that he got his first big break through theatre in 1999. He played a dual role of singer cum narrator in the Marathi play Ranangan, for which he was felicitated by Naseeruddin Shah and late Dina Pathak. “Ranangan was where I sang, danced, cried and did everything possible as an artist on stage. For me, that was my biggest break two decades ago. It was really big for me because there were quite a few famous personalities who had auditioned for the play, but I managed to get the part,” he reminisces.
The artist has a couple of movies releasing soon wherein he has written, composed music and also sang. 

You can attend Banyan Tree’s Ruhaniyat on February 10 at Empress Botanical Garden, Camp from 6 pm onwards. Tickets available on www.bookmyshow.com

Artist line-up at Ruhaniyat:
When Hearts Connect:  An Indo-Russian Production  featuring Kachra Khan, Sawan Khan, Tibetan Monks and Two Siberians
The Dancing Dervish of Egypt: Tanoura
One Step at a Time To the Divine: Sopanam — Kavalam Vinodh and B. Krishnadas
Invoking the Feminine Energy with Gondhal, Jagar, Bharud: Nandesh Umap & Group
Qawwali: Warsi Brothers & Group

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