This week on Flashback, we take a look at the world of Hindi films songs that take their inspiration or are a direct lift from the Indian folk music or songs. Every part of India has its own tradition of folk songs that are passed on from one generation to next. With the arrival of movies and pop music, folk music’s popularity weakened but ironically folk music remains a musical reserve in which the music director from the film industry often dip into. In fact, the strong tradition of song and dance is so deep-rooted in the Indian folk culture that many believe that the format of the Hindi film of the song and dance sequence itself has come into the films from the folk tradition. India has a vast cultural diversity, so it has been easy for the music director to dip into regional music and come up with a score. The influence of the folk music on film songs began in the mid 40’s and a majority of new singers and music composers came from North India and the influence of folk music from that part of the country was naturally visible in their compositions and music patterns.

Folk songs that found their way into the mainstream popular culture have helped preserve their rustic charm and appeal. Over the time, OP Nayyar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and SD Burman successfully and effectively exploited the genre of the folk music in Hindi songs for their movies. While Lakmikant added the folk flavour by incorporating dholaks and dafli, SD Burman depended heavily on c. Not just Indian folk, there are enough songs that have been taken from the folk traditions of other countries too like the Soviet folk songs. In the 1960s, Bollywood saw film songs draw a lot from folk music and theatre. Mumbai has always attracted talent from all over and because of partition, a large number of Punjabi’s came an joined the film industry. So if there has been one region that has had a major influence it has been Punjab and Punjabi music and songs and major music director who used a lot of Punjabi folk music and sound in his songs was OP Nayyar.

Folk songs are about lyrics, situation and music and while some songs are picked up as it is, there are some songs that have some folk element in them. Even Lata Mangeshkar turned to folk music when she produced her first film ‘Lekin’. Once again slowly the folk music is making its way in and it seems that the influence of the folk music on Bollywood music industry and Hindi songs is here to stay since it appeals to listeners and touches their emotion.