Rajasthan News

RIFF Infuses New Life Into Folk Music

by RajasthanDirect
Nov 03, 2015

It's been included in the list of 25 best music festivals in the world and endorsed by UNESCO as a people's platform for creativity and sustainable development. One pointer to the growing popularity of the Rajasthan International Folk Festival, better known by its musical synonym RIFF, is that the steep, two-fold rise in the price of season passes from around Rs 5,000 last year to Rs 10,000 this year didn't deter the crowds, many of whom travelled from distant parts of the globe to be in Jodhpur the weekend of October 23 November 27.

Such is the magic of the four-day festival, partly the result of its enchanting venue, the beautifully preserved Mehrangarh Fort, and partly of the soulful music of the local Rajasthani musicians punctuated by headlining acts from A-list musicians from across the world.

RIFF has come a long way since its humble origins in back in 2007. Earlier, it used to be all about Mick Jagger (the Rolling Stones founder is a patron of the festival). The news reports were full of him. Even a few years ago, I’d be asked whether he was going to be there. But now, other than the token line, there’s seldom a reference to Jagger, says Divya Bhatia, RIFF’s eloquent director, on changing perceptions of the festival.

RIFF’s one big contribution has been to raise the profile of the local musicians – the Manganiyar, Langa, Bhopa Bhopi and maand singers, and their rustic, soulful instruments like the sarangi, the kamaicha, the morchang and the dholak. The connections they’ve forged at RIFF, collaborating with musicians from the West, have resulted in their playing in music festivals in international venues such as Edinburgh and Sydney.

Many like Khete Khan, who plays the khartal, are so well-travelled that their passports run into several books. It’s also added significantly to their income. From playing on roadsides, two musicians who travelled to play at the Celtic Connections Showcase Scotland earned as much as Rs 4.5 lakh, says Bhatia. Some like Bhanwari Devi have become stars, sought after by mainstream music directors and invited to play at the

Though RIFF has grown ticket sales (the main source of revenue) this year brought in Rs 40 lakh, a hefty jump from the Rs 8 lakh it got the first year it remains a small festival with a certain homeliness. Artists, even the most high-profile ones, mingle freely and are easily accessible. One can even shake hands or chat with the Maharaja Gaj Singh, the festival patron, who is present at most performances, sitting out in the front – the chair the only allowance to his exalted status. Everyone else sits on gaddis set out on the floor.

RIFF completes a decade next year, and already Bhatia and Gaj Singh are working on plans on how to take the momentum forward. This time, it centres around bringing out albums of the acts at RIFF, working out on mechanisms to share copyright with the folk musicians. It is their festival, after all.

Source from : dnaindia

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