Though the border district of Kolar, which has a multilingual population, is a repository of folk literature and tradition, neither the Karnataka government nor the Andhra Pradesh government is doing anything to conserve the rich folk culture.
Realising the need to preserve the rare repository of folk culture, K.Y. Narayanaswamy, poet and playwright, and Rajkumar, a folklore fan, began the daunting task of collecting folk songs some six years ago.
They are now bringing out a collection of rare Kannada and Telugu folk songs, in spite of being well aware that their noble endeavour will not be commercially viable.
According to Mr. Narayanaswamy, they identified and mobilised over 100 Telugu folk singers, organised camps for them and recorded over 500 songs, with a total running time of more than 300 hours.
Of these, they choose 12 songs, translated them into Kannada and are now bringing out the collection, Kolar Desi Gold Songs, (both CD and cassette) in the two languages.
Impressed by their effort and conviction, noted music director Hamsalekha offered his support.
Thirteen singers — Shankar Mahadevan, S.P. Balasubramaniam, Kunal Ganjawala, Hariharan, Kavita Subramaniam, Malgudi Shubha, Manu, Vijay Yesudas, Chitra, Hemanth, Sangeetha Katti-Kulkarni, Nandita and Lata Hamsalekha — have sung the 12 songs in both the languages.
The Kannada and Telugu albums will be released at Main Auditorium, Christ University, Hosur Road, Bangalore, on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University, H.C. Boralingaiah, Rajya Sabha member and theatre artiste B. Jayashree, Mr. Hamsalekha and Ms. Malgudi Shubha would be the chief guests on the occasion.
Why celebrity singers?
The reason for opting celebrity singers to sing folk songs, according to Mr. Rajkumar, is to ensure “proper branding and good marketing” and to reach out to people in both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
At the best, folklore is being treated as a hobby or a form of entertainment. Not many recognise the cultural dialogues and dimensions of folk songs, Mr. Narayanaswamy said.
These songs have insights, wisdom and cultural warnings. There are so many nuances and arguments in them. They represent other schools of thought and help in viewing and constructing cultural history in a different perspective, he added.