Independence Day Music

An anthem in folk

Native sounds Madhur says there are many more Indian folk instruments that he has to learn

Native sounds Madhur says there are many more Indian folk instruments that he has to learn  

Madhur Padwal shares why he chose folk instruments for a musical rendition of the National Anthem

One man, 29 folk instruments, two days of shooting and the result was a beautiful musical rendition of the Indian National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’.

Madhur Padwal, producer and founder of the ‘Folks Wagon’ project, grabbed eyeballs recently with his four-minute video, where he played all the 29 folk instruments for a rendition of the National Anthem. What amuses this young musician however, is the fact that a video which only garnered him 12000 likes when he shared on his YouTube page in 2017 in now going viral after two years. “Someone from Kolkata shared it on their timeline. It has got more than a million views and hundreds of shares,” says an excited Madhur.

An anthem in folk

This Mumbai-based artist, who got initiated into music with the guitar, began to work on the four-minute video in 2016. Most of the work was about arranging and coordinating the various phrases of the anthem with folk instruments and then broadly arranging to play at the mention of ‘Punjab, Sind, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravida, Utkala, Banga’ in the lyrics. The instruments will represent respective states, which were earlier known as provinces.

He explains, “We shot the video in a day with clothes change and all. What took another day is the part where I am seen with nine musical instruments in one frame,” explains Madhur.

The video begins with Madhur playing the Jemji, a Naga folk wind instrument which is somewhat similar to the Assamese pepa played in Bihu songs.

While Madhur is thrilled with the views and shares he is a bit miffed with the incorrect info. “My video is being shared saying ‘29 artist’, whereas it is one single artist with 29 folk instruments.” There have been debates on why he has used the guitar when it isn’t an Indian folk instrument. “The use of the guitar is my ode to the instrument because I got initiated into music with it and then developed an undying bond with all sorts of musical instruments, especially folk. I look at the guitar as a connect to my musical journey,” Madhur explains.

One of the final participants to win the title of the best guitarist in MTV Rock on Desi Rocks in 2016, Madhur thinks his connect with music has to be the day he picked up the guitar when he was 15 years old. “It was a hobby then. Then I began experimenting with various techniques at home, then formed and played with two different bands in two different colleges. I was pursuing two streams from two different colleges. One of them was a diploma in Applied Arts, specialisation in illustration and another diploma in Arts,” he adds.

Why folk instruments? Madhur clarifies “Folk artistes and their music are slowing fading away. Our country is not just about our languages, food and attire, our music is a very important part of who we are and our culture. I chose to do a video with folk instruments so that people ask questions and thereby learn about our folk music and musicians.”

Instrumental role
  • Ravanattha, a string instrument from Rajasthan is a complicated one and a challenge for many musicians to master it.
  • Madhur also uses Dhotora, Khol, Pepa, Jemji, Gogona, Guitar, Ektara and Khartal in the composition
  • The Ektara, a one-string instrument is one of the most popular ones in the Indian sub-continent, is used widely by street and folk singers.

He connected with folk instruments while he was playing with his band in college. The band Taal Matrix was a fusion band with a classical background. He says he would pay attention to the instruments played in classical music. The appeal was too strong and soon he found himself travelling to Rajasthan to learn the ravanahattha in 2011. “It’s one of the most difficult instruments to learn; I tried learning it and couldn’t get it out of my mind,” he recollects.

So he went back again, met a master of the instrument to learn to play it. Soon after, he toured various states to learn and procure the folk instruments of the region. He says it is not as easy as going to a shop and buying a pair of tabla or drums. “To learn the khol, I went to Assam. There I learnt more about the legacy of the musicians who play this percussion instrument. It runs in the family and to get a khol I had to convince them that it will be well taken care of. I don’t claim to be an expert of all the folk instruments, so given a chance I will go back and learn more.”

With so much love for music Madhur now is in possession of more than 50 folk instruments which include a few from across the world.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 12:53:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/madhur-padwal-folks-wagon-folk-instrument-national-anthem-jana-gana-mana-independence-day/article29100667.ece

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