Singer's musical tribute to Bhojpuri poet - Album with nine tracks will be released in Mumbai next month

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By AMIT BHELARI
  • Published 15.12.10
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Patna, Dec. 14: Singer Kalpana has taken up a new challenge. She is busy these days recording for her latest album based on the poems of Bhikhari Thakur, known as the Shakespeare of Bhojpuri literature.

Very few singers have taken the initiative to sing compositions of Bhikhari Thakur. Kalpana is the one of them. The album — The Legacy of Bhikhari Thakur — will be released in Mumbai next month and later on in London. The nine tracks in her album include Bhikhari Parichay, Raas Leela, Ram Leela Gaan and Vidhata. On her decision to cut an album on the poems of Bhikhari Thakur, Kalpana said: “He does not need any introduction among the residents of Bihar or other Bhojpuri-speaking people. But the so-called mainstream culture has always been silent on his contributions. They even avoid mentioning his name.” Kalpana told The Telegraph over the phone from Mumbai: “I feel special when I am called a popular Bhojpuri singer. But with such an honour comes a strong sense of responsibility as well — to introduce people to the roots of Bhojpuri music and let it stand in the global music scenario with its real identity.”

She said: “Three districts — Ara and Chhapra from Bihar and Balia from Uttar Pradesh — make up what is today known as Bhojpur and the dialect spoken by the people of these areas is Bhojpuri. Now Awadhi, Banarsi, Maghai, Angika and even Maithili are also considered a part of Bhojpuri culture. But the core of Bhopuri boli (dialect) is limited to Ara, Chhapra and Balia. We also have to know the authenticity of Bhojpuri music in its raw form. The answer to all these is Thakur. But who is aware about his contribution?”

Kalpana had to do a lot of research before embarking on the album based on compositions of Thakur. It became Kalpana’s passion to keep the legend of Thakur alive and introduce the real Bhojpuri music to the world.

She said: “I did a lot of research over three years and visited remote areas in Bihar to collect more information on Thakur. I went to Bakhorapur, a remote village in Ara town, to perform at a cultural show. An aged man came up to sing Thakur’s Bidesia before my performance and I was touched by it. His performance was very rustic but his voice was melodious. He was a nartak in the original Bhikhari Thakur mandali. I took blessings from him to sing Thakur’s compositions in its original form.”

Kalpana said: “I have heard many renditions of the song by several artistes and even in films. It was good but I felt it was more of a remixed version. But this man had a completely different presentation. Once I came back to Mumbai I got busy with my professional commitments. However, I still had the desire and tried to find information on Thakur on the internet. I even went to Patna to search for books on Thakur but failed to get anything.”

“After a year, a local Patna artiste came up with Bhikhari Rachnawali, a book published by Rashtrabhasha Parishad, Bihar. It gave me all the facts about the social, political and spiritual elements in Thakur’s time. One challenge still remained — from where to get the original thekas (rhythm) and compositions sung by Thakur himself. I went back to Bakhorapur to meet the nartak and requested him to sing for me. He understood my intentions and agreed.”

Bhikhari Thakur, whose birth anniversary falls on December 18, was a folk poet, singer, dancer and actor. His creations truly reflect the Bhojpuri culture.