Folk music is in their blood. From generations, they have mesmerised the world with their voice. Mangainiyars of western Rajasthan need no introduction. In 2014, Swaroop Khan sang the very famous ‘Tharki Chokro’ in the film PK, now two teenager folk artistes of western Rajasthan have lent their voice for ‘Bapu Sehat Ke Liye tu to Hanikarak hai’ which featured in Aamir Khan’s movie Dangal and became a super hit song.
Sartaj sings joyfully with confidence and his unique voice impresses the audience. He started singing at the age 4, says his father Gazi Khan Barna who also runs Pahachan Folk Music Institute in the village and trains boys to carry forward the folk music tradition of the Mangainyars.
Sartaj looks forward his career in play back singing. After ‘Dangal’ he got an opportunity for voice over for a Cartoon programme. Much more is awaited, he says.
The Manganiyars are professional Muslim folk musicians belonging to Jaisalmer, Barmer, parts of Jalor, Bikaner and Jodhpur districts in Western Rajasthan. Like other hereditary caste musicians, they cultivate a close relationship to their patrons. Since generations they provide musical service to their patrons to receive cattle, camels, goats or cash as gift. On the other side they function as farmers and record keepers too. As record keepers they keep the different family histories alive trough their songs, based on pure oral tradition.
“For us music and farming are life line. We are heavily dependent on farming. I own 78 Bigha in Barna and mostly produce Bajra (Millet), Tur and Gwar. Interestingly, music is sometimes perfectly aligned with farming. Many songs are associated with planting and harvesting. In these activities the villagers routinely sing about their hopes, fears and aspirations. ”says Gazi.
Belonging to the Muslim faith, but supported by the Patrons (Râjputs, members of a Hindu military caste claiming Kshatriya descent), the Manganiyars sing the praises both of the great Sufi saints and of the God Krishna. These splendid virtuoso musicians combine the popular mystical and secular traditions of the desert with those of the courts of the Maharajas. They perpetuate a religious and chivalrous art dating from the Middle Ages.
Barna boys are informally trained. From childhood the music is heard and imbibed along with one’s mother’s milk. There are numerous public activities that allow the villagers to practice and hone their skills. The music is an indispensable component of functions such as weddings, engagements, and births. There is an uncountable number of songs for such occasions.
Nowadays the musical performances of the Manganiyars ranging from traditional village settings to the biggest stages of the world, are in high demand not only because of their unique voices and instruments but also because they move the audience form greatest, deepest joy to tears of happiness.
Sartaj and other boys are becoming favourite of Bollywood as well. Younger generation now participate in talent hunt shows. They are now making a name for themselves in playback singing. ‘Bapu Sehat Ke Liye tu to Hanikarak hai’ song got numerous hits on Youtube and became a chartbuster.
Ghazi Khan Barna is a proud man whose 12-year-old son Sartaj Khan has crooned the song along with Sarohar Khan. Folk artistes of Rajasthan believe it is a turning point for them as their young generation is testing new waters. ‘ Dangal’ was not a cakewalk for them. Filmmakers had taken auditions of kids of western Rajasthan out of which these two were selected. Music composer Pritam also helped the kids.
“We have everything like Rag/Ragini, notes, tal and boys knew all intricacies of the music. Hindi words given by the music director does not make our task difficult, so flow is natural,” explains Gazi Khan.
The Barna boys and Gazi Khan appreciate Aamir Khan professional excellence and hospitality. After the success of Dangal, the actor threw a party for them to recognise their contribution.
Young Manganiyars are all set to go beyond folk singing and they would certainly make good playback singers.