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Uttarakhand's Culture needs to be documented - Pritam Bharatwan


Pritam Bhartwan is among the most popular young folk singer in Uttarakhand, today. He attained towering success with his VCD 'Saruli.' His latest number 'Meri Bejora', released last year, is also doing good business.

He was born at village Silla in Raipur block of Dehradun. The year 1994 saw Bhartwan's first audio and two years later he attained high fame with 'Tausa Bao'. He now has 18 audio cassettes and eight VCDs to his credit. Pritam proved his talent at a very young age when he obtained B (high) grade of the AIR in 1988. Belonging to a traditional tribe engaged in folk performances, Prtiam has obtained success despite all odds. Here are some excerpts from an exclusive interview with this talented folk singer of Uttarakhand:

Q: How do you view the positive impact of the recent music VCD boom on the culture of Uttarakhand?
A: The VCD revolution has contributed in popularizing, promoting and publicizing Uttarakhandi language and culture. It has also showcased many of our forgotten practices and customs. Earlier, one has to locate for a shop in a city for getting Garhwali and Kumoani cassettes but now the scenario has changed totally. Now there is a wide choice of regional language VCD and audio in the market.

Q: But is there a dark side to this revolution?
A: Some producers are adopting short cuts to achieve success. To make some quick bucks they are producing substandard VCDs. These products offer vulgar fare and are a threat to our culture.

Q: How long will this short cuts last?
A: Their life is short. And I think with each passing day the VCD industry in Uttarakhand is maturing and very soon these get rich quick type will find themselves out of the music industry.

Q: Why none of the Garhwali film has done well at the box office?
A: The cinema halls are mostly located in cities like Dehradun, Haldwani and Hardwar. Not many theatres exist in small centres. There is need to establish small cinema halls in rural Uttarakhand. Secondly, I feel the hill people are not going to accept the Bollywood type films here.

Q: How do you view the performance of the 'Sanskriti Evam Sahitya Parishad', formed by the Uttarakhand Government?
A: The 'Sanskriti Evam Sahitya Parishad' has so far proved to be a mere showpiece. The Parishad has not done even a single noteworthy task. They should have invited experts of Jaggar, Dhol Sagar, etc and organize shows in different parts of the state. But they have done nothing of the sort.

Q: But don't you think the community too has vital role to play in conserving the local culture and practice?
A: Yes! In past, Ramleelas used to be a common thing in village fairs and other festivals. But now they are facing hard times. The government and community should work together in reviving this and similar traditions in the state.

Q: What do you have to say on the condition of the 'Beda' community engaged in folk music?
A: The Bedas are presently a neglected tribe. These artists are repositories of the folk legends of Uttarakhand and there is need to give them their due respect. It is also the need of the hour to document the cultural wealth they posses in the form of music else we may lose this rich heritage.

Q: You went to Oman last year. What was the experience like?
A: It was great to travel abroad and perform. It is great sign for Uttarakhandi folk that now we are getting invitation from foreign countries. We are likely to perform in UAE in coming weeks.

Garhwal Post
January 15- 21, 2006

As interviewed and compiled by: Raju Gusain - Dehradun