In Frame: Mame Khan
In Frame: Mame Khan

Exclusive: Mame Khan on transporting his listeners to the mesmerising world of folk music

As he gears up to perform in Bengaluru, Indulge sets out to uncover the stories behind his artistry, creative process and lots more

Raw emotions, unrefined beauty and an ear thy timbre that mirrors the landscapes and experiences from which it springs, Indian folk music is a tapestry of voices that captures the sounds of the rolling hills, traverses the vast deserts, sweeps across fertile fields and flows through the rich soil of its origins.

In essence, it’s the music of the earth itself and for over 25 years, Mame Khan has masterfully captured this. Whether it’s his crowd favourite Chaudhary from Coke Studio or his resonant voice in Kesariya Balam — Mame Khan consistently enchants his listeners, transporting them to the mesmerising world of folk music.

With each performance, he breathes new life into traditional Rajasthani melodies, captivating audiences with his profound emotional depth and impeccable artistry.

As he gears up to perform in Bengaluru, Indulge sets out to uncover the stories behind his artistry, creative process and delve into the world of this folk music maestro.

What’s on the setlist for Bengaluru?

First, a big namaskara to my Bengaluru audience! Every show here brings me positive responses, respect, love, blessings and fills me with melody. The setlist will have folk music, sufi tunes and a fusion of my Coke Studio and Bollywood hits, creating an evergreen mix of songs in every colour and for the surprise element you have to buy yourself a ticket!

What inspired Dama Dam Mast Qalandar which is premiering at the Bengaluru concert?

Bengaluru is the ideal venue for launching this song. It was originally sung at Lal Shahbaz’s dargah and turned into a divine melody breaking religious divides, embraced by singers nationwide, making it a universal anthem. I was inspired to sing this song from my childhood memories of hearing it frequently. Now, due to high demand from the audience, I finally have the opportunity to release it and I am happy that I can do so in Bengaluru.

How has your community’s musical legacy influenced your music?

My lineage dates back to over sixteen generations, so long that everyone has lost count. The Manganiyar community’s music is filled with pride and has a long history. I was born from music and brought up with it and I continue to stick to my roots no matter what. Definitely, I have put in my own creativity, but being born in a house glued to music was a double blow, therefore the influence is natural.

In Frame: Mame Khan
Mame Khan and Nikhita Gandhi collaborate for 'Dil Ka Kabootar'

Your song Chaudhary is still loved by everyone…

The uniqueness and creation of this song lies in its origins. It’s a song with Punjabi lyrics, composed by Amit Trivedi from Gujarat, sung by a Rajasthani artiste (myself) and set to tune in Mumbai, along with instruments from the east. The idea was to create a fusion of cultures, travelling across the nation, absorbing essences which can be loved by everyone nationwide and globally.

How does producing your own album compare to blending Rajasthani folk tunes with mainstream Bollywood for movie background scores?

The difference definitely lies in the creative process because for my albums I have greater liberty and do not have to think about certain elements. When it comes to background scores, you have to keep in mind the storyline of the scene, setting, the character and largely the actor who’s playing the role — making it slightly tedious. But, I enjoy both of them equally and when it comes to blending Rajasthani folk tunes to the Bollywood mainstream music, I think filmmakers sign me knowing the authenticity I bring in as an ambassador of folk music, making the fusion seamless.

How do you plan on keeping folk and sufi music relevant to the current audience?

There is no specific strategy per se to keep folk and sufi music alive. Folk music is the mother of all music and is timeless with an array of colours embedded in it, capturing the audience effortlessly. The rare and authentic richness it holds cannot be competed with. It has held its place for generations and backgrounds and will continue to do so, because, like I always say: it’s the sound of the earth itself.

INR 749 onwards. June 15, 7 pm. At Phoenix Mall of Asia, Hebbal.

Written by Sromona Mondal


X: @indulgexpress

In Frame: Mame Khan
Multi-instrumentalist Akhlad Ahmed performs at the upcoming Bangalore pre-event of the Free Earth Festival