Folk fiesta: Jodhpur’s iconic Mehrangarh Fort is set to buzz again | The Financial Express

Folk fiesta: Jodhpur’s iconic Mehrangarh Fort is set to buzz again

Indie music and a collaboration between Irish and Rajasthani artistes are just some things to look forward to at Jodhpur RIFF this year

Folk fiesta: Jodhpur’s iconic Mehrangarh Fort is set to buzz again
This year’s edition will also see some firsts. “We have our first indie (independent) artiste slot at Jodhpur RIFF this year, where we are presenting Bawari Basanti and Harpreet Singh,” Bhatia adds.

By Shubhangi Shah

After two long years of the Covid-induced hiatus, the premises of Jodhpur’s iconic Mehrangarh Fort is set to buzz again with a mellifluous blend of Rajasthani, Indian and international folk music. The Rajasthan International Folk Festival, or RIFF, is returning with its 13th edition from October 6-10, during which the audiences will witness enthralling performances by as many as 250 artistes.

If you ask the festival director Divya Bhatia, the feeling is “great to be able to bring back so many musicians together. We, the artistes, audiences, and our team are all looking forward to it”.

Just like the prior editions, this year, too, witness an interesting line-up of artistes such as folk stalwart Sumitra Devi, music by Rajasthan’s celebrated Langa and Manganiyar communities, ‘Citadel of the Sun’—a collaboration between artistes of Rajasthan and Ireland, and those by participants from Israel, Mexico, etc. The RIFF ‘rustle’ or the ‘grand jam’ will be led by Bombay Brass’ Rhys Sebastian and drummer Jehangir Jehangir saxophonist.

This year’s edition will also see some firsts. “We have our first indie (independent) artiste slot at Jodhpur RIFF this year, where we are presenting Bawari Basanti and Harpreet Singh,” Bhatia adds.

“We will premiere our full-length collaboration between Irish and Rajasthani musicians supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and the British Council, and begin production on a new Welsh-Khasi-Rajasthani collaboration. Yurdal Tokcan, arguably one of the finest oud players in the world, is doing a solo set. And Jodhpur RIFF presents SAZ, a folk group of young master musicians supported by the festival,” he adds.

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Music from Meghalaya, ‘A Khasi Dawn’ is among this year’s highlights. One will also witness Shabad and Nirguni bhajans and Kabir Vani in Madhya Pradesh’s Malwi folk style, during the five-day festival.

Speaking on the indie artistes’ line-up, the festival director says, “While we have presented indie artistes in previous editions too, this is the first time we have created a designated slot for them. It is very much a part of our ethos and how we see the festival growing in the coming years.” On showcasing independent musicians Bawari Basanti and Harpreet Singh, he shares, “I was on the look-out for young musicians from our cities who were unique in their approach and presentation, but also those whose poetry and music went beyond personal angst/ experience to reflect our collective humanity. And I felt that both Bawari Basanti and Harpreet were perfect.”

Covid hit hard’

“The pandemic hit the folk musicians very hard. They suffered,” says Bhatia. “As we went from one lockdown to another, some lost hope of normalcy. However, there were also those who were looking forward to the restart of social and public occasions, especially the Jodhpur RIFF, which they see as their own. This feeling was particularly stronger among those who have been regular participants,” he adds.

Music of the people’

Gaj Singh of Marwar-Jodhpur, the chief patron of the festival, describes folk music as the “music of the people” that is carried forward through generations. Speaking on the importance of Jodhpur RIFF, he says, it has played a key role in building a focal point for and nurturing this part of the country’s vibrant ecosystem of cultural heritage by providing opportunities, inspiration, and livelihood for traditional Rajasthani artistes.

The festival also holds a special place for the city of Jodhpur as “no other event there is quite like it”, describes Bhatia. “The festival has grown to become a calling card for the city and continues to be a strong platform for Rajasthani folk musicians as well as for international artistes in India. Globally, it is seen as a must-visit festival, among audiences and music professionals alike,” he adds.

A lot of love and kudos’

RIFF is not an ordinary festival but is among the best music experiences in the country, which continues to attract Indian and foreign artists alike. The USP lies in the diversity and the versatility of performances it offers.

There is something in witnessing artistes, all doyens in their own might, transcending cultural boundaries and coming together on a single platform to showcase the music of their roots. The result is that the festival has continued to grow and is entering its 15th year.

“The festival has grown in stature, and word of mouth has pegged it as an essential festival experience,” says the RIFF director.

“The combination of varied and high-quality local and international musicianship, a stunning location, and an immersive experience at a great time of year—the mix is heady and we receive a lot of love and kudos for it,” he adds.

WHAT’S IN STORE

RIFF dawns

Apart from music from Rajasthan’s Meghwal community, Shabad and Nirguni Bhajans and Kabir Vani in Madhya Pradesh’s Malwi folk style, one of this year’s Jodhpur RIFF dawns will be ‘A Khasi Dawn’ with traditional music from Meghalaya

In residence

Musical maestros Sawan and Kachara Khan of the Langa and Manganiyar communities will—through a mix of performance and conversation—enlighten the audience on the strand of Sufi poetry in Langa and Manganiyar musical traditions, through an interactive session

Dance bootcamp

The audience will be able to learn more about traditional Mexican as well as Kalbeliya dance forms from Jaciel Neri —choreographer and founder of ‘Moving Borders’, a Mexican dance production company—and Asha Sapera, a singer, dancer and performer from Rajasthan’s Kalbeliya tribe

Indie Roots

Jodhpur RIFF expands

its spotlight this year to include in its ambit independent musicians Harpreet Singh and Bawari Basanti, who will enthral the audience with classical-electronica-indie sounds

Mainstage

  • Hebrew and Arabic soul will meet acoustic rock at Jodhpur RIFF, courtesy Riff Cohen
  • ‘Citadels of the Sun’—the act features stellar musicians from Ireland and Rajasthan
  • Yurdal Tokcan, one of the finest oud players in the world, is doing a solo set

RIFF rustle

This year’s rustle will be led by Bombay Brass’s ace saxophonist and producer Rhys Sebastian and drummer Jehangir Jehangir (aka JJ)

The festival schedule and tickets are available online at www.jodhpurriff.org

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