Malini Awasthi Enthrals The Audience

Vibrancy of Bhojpuri Music

That Bhojpuri music and folksongs are vibrant; there is no doubt about it. This vibracy was celebrated recently in Mauritius as the second phase of the Festival of India. Malini Awasthi the renowned diva of Bhojpuri Folk music and Bollywood artist who needs no introduction in Mauritius enthralled the audience by her endearing and breath taking performance at the Gala Show of the Bhojpuri Lok Sangeet Nite at the IGCIC. It also set the tone for the forthcoming International Bhojpuri Mahotsaw.

Beauty and charm

Malini Awasthi herself a glamorous and charming person is not only a veteran consummate folk singer. She is a scholar and handles her topics with dexterity and verve. While singing she also explains the various nuances and aspects of Bhojpuri folk literature, heritage and history which adds to the beauty and charm of the cultural show. Her superb choreography, stage presence and delightfully well-designed colourful Bhojpuri folk costumes besides being typically Bhojpuri based, should help the Mauritian up-coming young Bhojpuri artists to benefit from this sensational exposure. She mesmerized the listeners and took the audience by storm. Her soulful renderings of thumri, jhumar, sohar distinct style of singing of melodies with her powerful choreography enthused one and all. She is also accomplished in ghazals, quawali and sufi gaayaki. She brings the old world charm of Lucknow and Ganga Jamuni culture of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Malini Awasthi moves with ease and grace from stage to the audience and intermingles and interacts with them. Thus, it was for a kajri genre, based on a song “raliya bairan piya ko chale jaire” composed when the railway was introduced in eastern India 150 years ago, and the impact it had on village life and movements of people. This incited poets and composers to write new Bhojpuri songs. While singing this song, she created a chain reaction from the geet gawai ladies present in the auditorium and got them to dance through up to the stage as different wagons of a moving train, with whistle and all. She interpreted several genres of Bhojpuri folk such as Kajri, dadra, thumri, sohar (birth songs), marriage songs and chaiti – a semi-classical song sung in the month of Chait – March-April, Holi and jhumar so popular in Mauritius.

Geet Gawai Group

Malini Awasthi was impressed by the geet gawai women groups of Mauritius and said that it is unique to Mauritius. She said that the Government of Mauritius and High Commissioner of India should send them to India where they can interact. Local Bhojpuri artists and composers were present in great numbers and after the performance a large number flocked around Malini to congratulate her.

But in the second leg of her programme, Malini delighted and enchanted the audience with morceaux of popular Bollywood songs based on Bhojpuri folklore. While singing, the Bollywood hits, she gave the reasons of their enduring popularity. Simply because they are based on rural Bhojpuri folk tunes that are eternally catching. When Bollywood got through its salad days, many lyricists and music composers hailing from Benares the hub of Bhojpuri and classical and semi classical Hindustani music, joined the film industry in Bombay. They brought along their inherent semi-classical and traditional Bhojpuri folk songs which gave a new dimension and aura to the film music. Thus for the famous snake dances and songs of Nagin, the musician well-known singer Hemant Kumar Mukherjee went to a typical snake charmers’ village and incorporated the evergreen music that gave such big hits as “man dole mera tan dole”. The eternal lilting and catching songs of Pakeeza – “chalte chalte”, inhi logon ne le liya dupatta mera”, the song “nain ladjaihe to manwa kasak hoi be kari from the film Ganga Jamuna are similarly based on traditional Bhojpuri folk songs.

Malini Awasthi also gave wonderful shows at Shri Pushplochanaya Shiv Mandir at Bel Air St Michel in South East Mauritius. She conducted a successful Bhojpuri Lok Sangeet Interactive Workshop at the RTI, Ilot and gave a performance cum workshop on Bhojpuri folklore at Plaines des Roches, Riviere du Rempart with the singers and artists of the Geet Gawai School of Bhojpuri Speaking Union.

This Bhojpuri Lok Sangeet was made possible thanks to the initiative of the Indian High Commission in Mauritius in collaboration with the Ministry of Arts and Culture and the Bhojpuri Speaking Union. The Sangeet Natak Academy of India made the arrangements for her performance in Mauritius.

Mauritius acts as a catalyst for Malini

Malini Awasthi holds a post graduate degree in classical Hindustani Music and learnt the traditional Benares gharana of singing from the great guru Padma Bhushan Girija Devi. Malini first came to Mauritius in the year 2000 for the first World Bhojpuri Conference. She was impressed by the efforts made by the girmitias and their descendants in preserving and promoting the Bhojpuri language and heritage in Mauritius, the West Indies, South Africa. Mauritius thus acted as a catalyst in bringing a change in her musical performances.

It created in her the urge to move from pure classical Hindustani music to Bhojpuri and Awadhi folklore. It was a new departure for her and she never looked back. Malini Awasthi is appointed as member at UNESCO as representative from the Government of India. She has set up an NGO Sonechiraiya in a bid to promote and preserve the rich heritage of folk songs and music of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Malini Awasthi was accompanied on this trip by versatile tabla player Mr Ratnesh Kumar Mishra from Benares and his team of musicians for this delightful show. Malini Awasthi has performed in many countries including USA, Netherlands, UK, Fiji, Pakistan and Nepal.


* Published in print edition on 18 December 2015

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