Saturday, April 17, 2010

Folk Media

Folk Media traditional media based on sound, image and sign language. These exist in the form of traditional music, drama, dance and puppetry, with unique features in every society, race and region. West Bengal has inherited several rich, effective popular and powerful folk media forms, which were developed over the ages and ensure the emotional integrity of the nation. The development of electronic media transformed the globe into a village but could not overshadow the folk media of different ethnic groups and regions. Folk media continue to play an important role in West Bengal society and the new electronic media are used to popularise some of the folk arts. Ingredients of folk media are given special projection in the mass media and as such folk media are being used in development communication (to bring about attitudinal and behavioral changes of the people) and advertising. Messages on issues like agricultural development, primary health care and nutrition, ENVIRONMENT, education, women and child rights are projected through the folk media. People in West Bengal, especially the great majority in the rural areas enjoy performances of the folk artists as a relief from the myriad of life. Many of them simply do not have access to modern forms of entertainment.
Music is the most popular folk form in West Bengal and the various types of folk music include mystic songs (baul, marfati, murshidi), devotional songs (hamd, nat, shyama sangeet, kirtan), ballad (palagan, puthipath), community songs (jari, sari, bhaoaiya) and snake-charmers song. Folk songs on hopes, joys, sorrows, love, and separation composed by ordinary people are still popular. The traditional melodies and lyrics of these songs were enriched by kabials (lyricist and composer of folk songs), gayens (singers), dohars (co-singers) and musicians. Kabigan, a sort of musical debate on a particular topic between two kabials is very popular all over West Bengal. Gambhira is another form of this type of song, performed jointly by a typical nana (grandfather) and his nati (grandson). This song is accompanied by dance and is usually performed in the Malda District. Ganasangeet (peoples' songs) is the latest form developed by the cultural activists working for the welfare of the oppressed people. This type of song carries messages on the rights of the oppressed people and a strong sense of patriotism. Ganasangeet had inspired the whole nation during the WAR OF LIBERATION in 1971. Instrumental music has its own glory in folk songs. No one can think of folk music without indigenous instruments like ektara, dotara, sarinda, flute and drum.
Folk media are very effective in communicating messages on important national issues, largely because it needs a small troupe, the costs in instruments, transport and manpower are moderate or low, and the outreach is wide, particularly through performances in hats (market places in rural areas) and bazaars. Patriotic forces during the anti-British movement used to organise such groups to motivate the people in favour of SWADESHI MOVEMENT. Simultaneously, during the Second World War the British Indian government constituted a song publicity unit to mobilise public opinion in their favour. India has created an organisation named the Sangeet-Natak Academy (the Academy of music and drama), the main responsibility of which is to perform motivational programmes throughout the country.
The most popular form of folk drama in West Bengal is JATRA, an opera type performance in an open stage. The jatra is performed before rural people of all ages and both genders during autumn and winter nights. Jatra, being a product of mass culture and having undergone a process of evolution, represents different trends of the society. In the past, it was performed by the villagers themselves. They used to build and decorate the stage collectively with great enthusiasm and spend their own money for costumes and props. The organisation of a drama in any village was a great event, especially after the harvesting season. Later, jatradals began to be formed commercially to put on professional performances. People like jatra because of its communicability and the relationship between the performers and the audience. Simplicity and lively and informal presentation are the key features that have made jatra so popular. Nowadays, modern songs and dances presented as fillers between the acts are an added attraction.
One of the most ancient forms of entertainment prevalent in West Bengal is the solo performance by a bahurupi, a person well versed in the art of costuming, mimicry and imitation. In the past, he stayed in one place for days together to perform before wealthy patrons, whose courtyards were also open for the ordinary village people, including women who flocked to the performance. At present, however, the traditional bahurupis do not exist but people in the get up of bahurupi are seen in the rural market places performing mainly to promote sales of a particular company's products.
Puppetry is perhaps the most outstanding traditional folk medium that still exists in its original form in West Bengal. One of the puppetry centres in the country is North and South 24 Paraganas, from where many troupes of traditional puppeteers travel throughout West Bengal to perform with their own songs and dances. The puppet shows are used for educational and promotional purposes and are very effective in development communication.
Painting on clothes and POTTERY products is a fast diminishing form of folk media in West Bengal. In the old days, indigenous artists portrayed characters or reflected events of Hindu mythology as well as from folk tales of Muslim origin in their paintings on cloths or pottery. Quacks, village doctors and medicine sellers often use the traditional cloth painting to promote indigenous medicines in the rural markets. Quilts embroidered with the motifs of flowers, leaves and birds are still popular.
Fairs play an important role in the life of West Bengal people. There are some set occasions and days, when fairs are spontaneously held in different places, both rural and urban. People from all walks of life gather there to enjoy the fanfare and buy things of everyday necessity and toys for the children or HANDICRAFTS and fancy products. Occasional or regular fairs as well as hats and bazaars are the common places where folk media are seen in action. The rally is another ancient means of transmitting public information. In the early days, drummers from the court were assigned to announce the venue and the schedule of a rally. Gatherings for group prayers like mass congregations and indoor meetings of particular groups, unions or faiths are also effective forums for building up public opinion. Although new forms of print and electronic media are gradually replacing the traditional or folk media, oral communication is still very effective in West Bengal.
Post a Comment