We live in an Internet Age and it is breaking many boundaries as well as social norms. With an appropriate mix of talent, luck, and a little bit of savvy can turn one into a celebrity in no time. And then there is social media which has the potential to turn people into an instant sensation before one can actually spell sensations. The social media saw one such moment when the some of the old videos of the Mastana Group Kolkata singing folk songs were discovered by the Internet users. One particular song that went viral had to do with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Neta Nam Narendar Modi). Avatans Kumar caught up with some of the group members via email:
1. Congratulation on this unprecedented success of your song. Did you think that your songs will become internet sensation?
Answer: No, we never thought that our songs and our group will be an internet sensation. I would not call it to be a sensation also but we are happy to have received the widespread love and support. Retweets from celebrities like Koena Mitra, is definitely encouraging for us. And every team member is proud about about being a #Mastana (as we call ourselves).
2. So what led to the formation of this group? Who are the key members - demographics, educational background, etc?
Answer: The group was formed on 6th Feb 2018 last year, before the Holi festival. The group comprises of members from all backgrounds. While some of them are students studying in schools and colleges, there are also professionals who are either working for MNCs or are entrepreneurs themselves. So there is a good mix of age-group, filled with enthusiasm which is the main asset of our group. Though there are 5-6 of us who handle scheduling, etc., we think ourselves as a group and would not name any specific person(s) as key members. It is because of equal contribution of each and every member that we have grown so much and all are important key elements of Mastana Group Kolkata.
All of us belong to different parts of Rajasthan but our families are now settled in Kolkata for some time.
3. Why Kolkata?
Answer: Why Kolkata? The answer lies above. Because now we are ambassadors of Rajasthan, settled in Kolkata. Many viewers did ask us, "You speak such good Rajasthani language and sing such good songs, then why "Kolkata"?" This should clarify their question. We don't want the younger generation to lose the touch with their great land and its traditions. That's why we made the group. Starting with only 25-30 members, now we have more than 70 members in our group.
4. Your songs are traditional with traditional instruments (chang, manjeera, dhol, etc) but do have specific political message. Can you tell us more about this combination?
Answer: The group was made to perform traditional Rajasthani Holi songs. Last year, one of our songs "Chailo" (https://youtu.be/SxJmN2XtmK0) was a hit and was liked by everyone. So, we wanted to have something new this year. While surfing across the net, we came across a song on "Modi” that had Rajasthani lyrics and was a new release. So, we decided to recreate it in our own way and present to the audience with the traditional instruments (chang, manjeera, dhol).
We did not intend to give out any specific political message. Had there been any such song on any other leader, we would have loved to recreate that as well.
5. Are you affiliated with any political group?
Answer: Not at all. We are not affiliated to any political group. Each and every member of our group has their own independent political ideology and that is how it should be. We are all adults in 20s & 30s and very well connected and informed, so even if we had a song on "Modi", it wasn’t that we were blind supporters. It's the response of the crowd that enthused us with energy while performing and ultimately made the song go viral over social media.
6. What is your opinion of India's folk art? What future do you see?
Indian Folk Art will continue to shine forever. We are finding so many young YouTubers and performers coming up, who are not only keeping the folk touch but also adding their own spark. This will help bring back the lost audience too that have has moved and settled in faraway lands.
The very essence of the folk is alive, and will keep rejuvenating the hearts and make people feel closer to their native lands. That's our country India, and the power of its traditional folk.
7. What future do you see for yourself in this group and the group itself?
As an individual, we love to enjoy the 10-15 days before Holi and the festivities. That seems to be enough. There are many different groups in Kolkata who perform but Mastana and its members are unique.
We are excited about our future. Starting with only 100 subscribers on our YouTube channel last year, we have now crossed 2000+ subscribers this year. We have received immense following on social media platforms, so we would like to take it a step forward and come up with something great next year to keep the expectation of audience