Narendra Singh Negi, much loved Garhwali Folk singer gets Sangeet Natak Academy award
Dehradun, April 10
There is rarely any unanimity on various issues amongst the people of Uttarakhand but the conferment of Sangeet Natak Academy award on Narendra Singh Negi, a much loved folk singer was one such occasion. The award brought cheers to each and every Garhwali in the state ofUttarakhand. He was given the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy award by Vice-President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu at a function in New Delhi on April 9.
Narendra Singh Negi became the first Garhwali artist to get the Sangeet Natak Academy award for his unique contribution in the field of folk music and singing. A living legend, Narendra Singh Negi has sung and written songs relating to each and every aspect of lives of the people of the Himalayan state. Whether it is rigorous life of women in the hills, the longings of the women folk for their loved ones who migrate to plains for livelihood or join armed forces, Narendra Singh Negi has penned and sung songs beautifully depicting these situations. Some of his songs are immensely popular and are played in marriages and other joyous occasions.
A dream like career of over four decades, Narendra Singh Negi who wanted to be an army man like all other hill folks has written and sung more than a thousand songs. It is said in Garhwal that anybody knowing Garhwal culture and its’ life should listen to the songs of Narendra Singh Negi.
Born in Pauri Garhwal district in 1949, Narendra Singh Negi joined state Information department and retired as a government servant. It was during his service in the Information department which is meant to spread the government policies amongst people, Negi started penning and singing songs in his native language. During his musical career he has touched upon each and every aspect of the hill life.
Interestingly, Narendra Singh Negi also dared to challenge the politicians of the newly created state. “Nauchami Narayan”, a musical satire on politics, sung by him had broken all sales records for albums in Uttarakhand in 2006. It had also become an embarrassment for the ruling Congress, and it add to the defeat of the party in the state assembly polls of 2007.
The musical video was a spoof on politicians of the state, particularly on the functioning of the Congress government led by CM Narayan Dutt Tiwari. The title, “Nauchami Narayan”, meaning ”naughty Narayan” in Garhwali, targetted the then CM.
More than 50,000 VCDs of the album were sold in the first week of its release. Although Negi calls his work ”pure fiction”, his listeners say characters in the album have an uncanny resemblance to Tiwari and his deputy, PWD Minister Indira Hariydesh.
The song starts with references to the ineptness of BJP government in 2000, saying it ”slept as the Congress came to power.” The song, rendered in the traditional Jagar-Mandaan style of the hills, then goes on to attack the then Congress government.
From the large-scale distribution of ministerial ranks to the alleged misuse of the CM’s discretionary funds, all major episodes in the then government’s tenure found mention in the song.
Negi, took premature retirement from the State Information Department in July 2005. He fired another salvo at the BJP state government led by Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank by singing another song against the alleged corrupt deals in 2011.
Before the 2012 state Assembly elections, Narender Negi came up with another video album, which highlighted corruption in higher places and was a political satire. Music lovers in the hill state liked Negi,s “Ab Kathga Khailo” made a sharp attack on rapidly spreading corruption in the country. It also highlights the corruption of the state government.
The title song -”Commission ki meet-bhaat” – was a satire on the functioning of the top brass of the Uttarakhand Government involved in making money through commissions. Right from Maha Kumbh-2011 and the Citurgia land scam, all figured in the song. The folk singer also made a sharp attack on the supporters of political leaders acting as agents. “Machu pani paindu” is the second song on corruption in the album and it points at lower office-level corruption.
Another attraction of the album was a duet by father and son. Narendra Negi’s son Kabilas Negi made his debut as a singer. The father-son teamed up for the first time to sing “Apuru see dikandu che,” a song on highlanders preferring to call themselves natives of Dehradun rather than the hills. The psychology of many young Uttarakhandis, who hate being called a pahadi, is minutely captured in the song. “Mayadar” is a Sufi song, while “Rupako jadu” and “Main tho suni tera gaon maa” are the two love songs in the album.
After these two politically inclined albums, Narendra Singh Negi has refrained from coming up with such political satire. He believe that his songs are misused by rival political parties for their vested interests while he had written and sung such songs only to make the people aware of the happenings around them.