“Crossing paths with magic and euphoria.”
One of the most widespread and drastic changes brought in by modernization is the synthesis of modern western instruments into folk music and songs. The spread of commercial pop styles and Bollywood music brought new sounds and styles which dilutes the basic aesthetics of folk music, and beliefs associated with it.
Its impact on the folk music of Uttar Pradesh is quite evident. To please the greater mass, artists have started singing folk songs in the tunes of popular Bollywood numbers. Not affected by all these tempting glitz and blitzes of modernity, Mahaveer Singh Chahar is a pleasant exception.
After travelling for around 2 hours and covering 70kms from Mathura, we reached MBD Inter College, Doora, where Mahaveer Chahar Ji was getting ready with his group in their bright and colourful traditional attire. Doora is an educational hub in the Agra district as there are two-degree colleges and three inter colleges. Most of the students from the nearby villages come here for higher education. The location chosen for Mahaveer Ji’s performance was an old Akhara, where villagers train in wrestling. For simple understanding, it was a traditional village gym. There was also a small temple of Lord Shiva which added a lot to the whole vibe of the place.
Seeing green is always a very relaxing experience. The entire Akhara was surrounded by lush green trees and vivid mustard fields. The stage was all set, and we were waiting for a rustic and raw performance by Mahaveer Singh Chahar and his group. As a group, they are very tight and playful. Except for Kapil Choudhury, 18 years old, all are middle-aged men, with Raghunath Bhagati and Jawahar Singh being in their 60s. But in no way they seemed any less energetic. They were one of the most lively groups in the entire Braj Documentation.
Mahaveer Singh Chahar, 48, is a folk singer of great repute, in the entire Braj and Uttar Pradesh region, along with harmonium he plays dholak. All through his life, the only thing that he understood and believed in was music. In 1998, he appeared in Choupal Krishi Darshan on Doordarshan (DD), and ever since, he is also known as a DD artist in his locality. He is a role model for this group, and for his village, which admires him fondly. He is an ardent follower of music and keeps his group intact by managing and taking care of each member. The group sings various rare Braj folk forms like Jikri, etc., and all of their songs have a classical base.
Mahaveer is the group leader and has been managing the group for the past 15 years. The group has Kapil Choudhary, 18, who plays khartaal and gives backing support, Aso Khan, 50, who does the percussion duty and plays the Nakkara, Bhajan Lal Khuswaha, 42, who plays Dholak, Rajkumar, 52, who plays Jhinka and sings in the Chorus, Jawahar Singh, 62, who plays the harmonium and sings as well, Raghunath Bhagati, 69, plays Majira and sings in the Chorus along with Sabir Khan, 58, who also plays the Khanjari.
Raghunath Bhagati and Sabir Khan are the lifelines of this group. They get involved in their performance so much that you can feel the intense feelings of well-being and happiness they emit in their euphoric storytelling and performance. The group has been performing for the past 20 years, for different Government programs, the group was registered by the Information and Public Relation Department in 2000. They have performed in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh. They see their future which would be only viable if the government supports them, they have very high hopes for them.
He also knows how to play the harmonium very profoundly, apart from the owner of a raspy vocal chord, and has performed in various locations within the state/country. He has received many awards and laurels from the State and Central government and pulled off brilliant performances at festivals and conventions in UP, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh. The Taj Mahotsav and the Uttar Pradesh divas are the most memorable experiences.
He is a euphoric performer, and his group is equally vibrant. Their performance can move anybody into their grooves. Despite all their struggles, they strive to keep developing their craft and aspire someday in the future to see themselves succeed through the art that they love so much. Despite all their struggles, they strive to keep developing their craft and dreams to educate their audience about this artform. Someday in the future, they see themselves succeed through the art that they love so much.