The national capital played host to an evening of folk music on Friday with performances by members of Roots, a self-financed group that aims to spread the richness of folk and tribal music from some of the remotest parts of India to the rest of the world.

The 200-strong audience were left spellbound by the rendition of numbers like "Maa rewa" (from Madhya Pradesh and based on river Narmada); "Lalan opar" (Baul inspired by Lalan fakir); "Choudhury" (a Rajasthani folk number depicting the love story of a village Chaudhury and a much younger girl); "Bibi sanam janam" (the famous Pushto Dari song of Afghanistan) and the popular "Dama dam mast kalandar".

A jhumur (song and dance of tea tribes of Assam) medley, a Bhatiali (sung mostly by the boatman in riverine districts of Bengal) number; Bhojpuri song "Pagal kahela na", Tokari (a stringed instrument) geet and zikirs (devotional Sufi songs) of Assam and Punjabi folk number "Jugni" were also performed.

The closing act was the rendition of Paul Robeson's song "We are in the same boat, Brother!" which was made popular in India by the late Bhupen Hazarika.

All the songs had a slide projection in the background showing the synopsis and translation of the particular number as also its background.

"It was a multi-lingual program where the group tried to bring out the commonality of folk music across the country. There were some numbers where two-three languages were used combining folks of two regions to bring home the point that folk music has a common thread whichever part of the country it may belong to," said Kishore Das, a production engineer by profession and one of the key members of Roots.

"At Roots, we have been able to appreciate and understand the folk music of different states better since all our members belong to different parts of the country and are bound by their passion for folk music. We have artists from one state singing songs of other states and members of all age groups, so we are able to strike a balance between the traditional form and the modern way of music," he said.

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