A folk artist in Rajasthani Pagri (turban/safa) made a breakthrough in the world’s top Cannes festival this year. It is now written in the history of the 75th Cannes Festival held in France recently that Rajasthan’s famous ‘Manganiyar folk singer Mame Khan was the first Indian artist who walked on the red carpet at the Indian Pavilion along with Bollywood luminaries A R Rehman, Shekhar Kapoor, R Madhvan, Deepika Padukone, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Union Minister for I&B Anurag Singh Thakur.
Receiving an overwhelming honour on his return to his home in Jaisalmer a day ago, Khan said he was immensely delighted and felt elated for representing Rajasthan at a world forum of entertainment amidst a gathering of top artists and Hollywood-Bollywood stars.
It was a memorable and proud moment for him to walk on the red carpet at the festival with Indian celebrities, performing ‘manganiyar folk songs’ and showing Rajasthani Pagri to a foreign audience, Khan, who was on his way from Jaipur to Mumbai on the plane, told SNS on Monday night.
Manganhar is a Muslim community hailed from Rajasthan’s sandy-desert districts of Jaisalmer and Barmer. They consider themselves descendants of the Rajput community and are renowned as folk musicians of the Thar desert. They are also joined by the Langha community who are known for their folk music. They are the groups of hereditary professional musicians and singers having their special instruments like ‘Kamaicha: a 17-string khamaycha, Khartal: a kind of castanet made of teak, and Dholak: a hand drum similar in timbre to a bongo.
“Though I was one of the Indian delegation members at Cannes Diagio India has sponsored my visit and I had a six-member team of artists on Sarangi, Khartal, Dholak, Guitar”, Khan who began his ancestral folk music and singing at the age of 12 in Rajasthan said.
For the first time, he played ‘Manganiyar show’ with his father Ustad Rana Khan before the late Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister. Belonging to Satto village in Jaisalmer bordering Pakistan, Khan has four children whom he wants that they should first study and follow the family tradition of ‘Manganiyar’ as a hobby/passion.
Forty-one-year-old and popularly called Mame nevertheless studied up to 10th class but he speaks English fluently and held shows in 70 countries with his troupe since 1990. He has been a playback singer for numerous Hindi films such as Luck By Chance, I am, No one Killed Jessica, Mirzya and Sonchiriya. He was featured on Coke [email protected] along with Amit Trivedi, the duo who performed the track, Chaudhary.
Reminding him that he was quoted in the media as a recipient of the Padma Shri award, the 4th highest civilian honour, he very honestly said, “Not yet. I am not aiming for any award in my career and want to relentlessly devote myself to this art with a passion and dedication to keep our tradition alive for future generations”.
He who keeps travelling to holding shows abroad and appearing in Bollywood movies makes out that “Life is full of struggle in every sphere of art, entertainment, music, singing, and acting. It does not matter where you belong, whether you live in a big city or a corner of a remote place, what dress you wear, what language you speak and what you prefer to eat, the only thing that makes you happy is how you entertain and spellbound your audience by your art performance”.