Vol. 5 Num 408 Wed. July 20, 2005  

Interview with Kiran Chandra Roy
Living and breathing folk songs

Kiran Chandra Roy has firmly established himself as a popular folk singer. Clad in the typical attire of Bauls-- a gerua coloured costume with ektara and baya in hands-- his songs such as Ei prithibi jemon chhilo, Jante chai doyaal, Nim tita nishinda tita and others have earned plaudits from the audience.

Kiran Chandra Roy enjoys the Bichhedi songs of Bijoy Sarkar. In his words, "I grew up surrounded by folk music such as Bhatiali, Bichhedi songs by Bijoy Sarkar, different types of Jatra songs and others. In the Manikganj, Faridpur and Pabna belt, well-known 20th century bard Bijoy Sarkar's songs are the most popular in the folk song genre. In my early days I used to sing Bijoy's songs in programmes such as Baithaki and Trinath Mela. Bijoy Sarkar's lengthy songs are a barrier to the release of albums or renditions on radio or TV. I have however, released one Bijoy Sarkar album called Bijoy Bichhedi, which has songs of a short duration. Bijoy's songs appeal to my soul. I have received the National Award as the best playback singer for rendering Bijoy's song Jante Chai Dayal in the film Dukhai."

"To earn recognition in the music arena, a singer must be trained in a particular genre. That is why I follow the Baul trend. The mystic Baul songs are popular. And I am fortunate to earn recognition as a Baul singer," adds Kiran.

What is the difference between the folk singers who live in the akhras (dens) and those who sing in the metros? Kiran says, "The folk singers from the akhras are the Mohajan (true devotees of the bards) whereas we are the representatives of the bards. We present the folk songs in a polished form before the metro audience and the folk singers carry on the tradition of folk music."

Kiran Chandra Roy does not sing regional songs and says, "Dialect is an important factor in rendering folk songs. I cannot aptly pronounce the dialect of North Bengal or that of greater Sylhet or Chittagong region. I always sing folk songs that are similar to standard Bangla. That is why I have never sung Bhaoaiya, Hasan Raja or others."

What is the current scenario of folk songs? To quote Kiran, "Folk songs are an all time favourite in Bangladesh. Even the modern singers of the country have earned recognition by rendering folk songs. If we analyse a list of hit film songs, we find that folk-based songs are the most popular. The younger generation is doing a remix of Abdul Jabbar's song Ore Nil Doria. However, it unfortunate that the government and production companies have not taken adequate initiatives for the preservation of this genre."

Kiran has sung a good number of Sachin Dev Burman's songs. As he says, "Burman has shown how to fuse classical music with modern and folk songs. His songs are well crafted. I follow him and try to apply his style in my presentation. To learn classical music I trained under my mentor Khondokar Nurul Alam for 14 years."

So far Kiran has released 15 solo albums and has rendered playback in over 20 films. He is also a lyricist and music composer. Kiran won the National Award in 1997 as the best playback singer and Bachsas best singer award.

Kiran Chandra Roy