Dotara Is Another Example Of A Folk Song Mutilated For Profit!

Dotara, sung by Payal Dev, and Jubin Nautiyal, is originally a traditional Goalpariya folk song in Assam, called “Komola Shundori Naache”, which was sung by the pioneer of the genre, Pratima Barua Pandey.

The Bollywood music industry has disintegrated, and its latest example is Payal Dev and Jubin Nautiyal’s Dotara.

Agreed that the aesthetics of eras differ from one generation to another, yet there are times when they produced, for lack of a better word; junk (please pardon my unfiltered language) that the public consumed in the name of entertainment.

I am guessing this happens when a company holds a monopoly over an industry, and lose all their accurate sense of judgement.

What’s up with Dotara?

Yesterday, T-Series released a song named Dotara, sung by Payal Dev, and Jubin Nautiyal. And no, the only Bengali presence in the song was not just Mouni Roy.

The original song, is a traditional Goalpariya folk song from Goalpara, Assam, called “Komola Shundori Naache”, and was sung by the pioneer of the genre, Pratima Barua Pandey.

Being a folk song, it trickled down into its neighbouring districts and was soon adopted by the bauls of West Bengal, prominently the ones from Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, etc. And eventually, it was all over the Bengali folk scene.

I think the whole of Bengal is familiarized with the song by now. And has, in fact, gone on to be a part of our growing up. One of my fondest memories from childhood was the annual family trips to Shantiniketan.

Those couple of hours on the train used to be fun. And I used to eagerly look forward to those orange-clad men with ektaras in their hands, singing without any restraint, and mesmerizing all of us. As a kid, they intrigued me, their songs intrigued me, and as I grew up, I treasured them.

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So when the music moghul came up with the teaser of the song a few weeks back, I knew a disaster like Genda Phool by Badshah was on its way.

What’s the big deal about using a piece of folk music?

Komola Shundori Naache is a song that describes feminine beauty. With playful words, it describes Komola as a feminine imagination who is dancing her heart out to the tunes of a Dotara (a stringed instrument). Since the release of the song, it has grown to be a cultural symbol across Assam, and West Bengal.

When you decide to seek inspiration from an existing work of culture, that also represents a rich heritage of their culture, you have a responsibility to maintain it, respect it, and more importantly, ACKNOWLEDGE IT.

Where are your credits?

Not only does YouTube mention any credits to the original composer or singer, but also, allegedly, Jubin Nautiyal claims that this was his creation. Ha, the good laugh I had reading it!

Over the years, big-shot music companies like T-Series, Sony Music, and Tips Official have compelled many artists worldwide to pull down their cover, or music, because of their lack of credit share. But when they pull stunts like, and sue people for reusing their lyrics, it is hilarious.

Double standards, much?

Keeping aside the aggressive feelings of violation that the song instigates, the song Dotara has no authenticity of its own. Applied to the same template of a modern couple finding themselves in 200 B.C., a lot of melodrama, a fistful of vulgarity later, the new lyrics feel like random words clubbed together.

Somewhere in the middle of the song, a line goes like this:

“Shizuka bani tu toh,

Mai banu Nobita.”

I don’t know if I feel more outraged at the song having taken a sour turn, or more sorry for this guy, who is still stuck in the love story between Nobita and Shizuka. Kono maane hoye? [Does this make any sense?]

But, why don’t you view this as an artistic expression?

In the context of this video, art? My foot.

I had performing arts as a major’s subject in my graduation. I am well aware of the artistic differences that can cause wide disparities within the same group. But, we were also taught to understand artistic responsibilities.

What we could, or what we couldn’t as artists. This music video gets added to the list of instances of artistic irresponsibilities.

This is not the first time that present-day artists have decided to cover folk songs, or remake vintage classics. Some have adopted this genre as their niche.

For instance, the Coke Studio renditions of folk songs across the country have catered to the general mass whilst keeping the decorum of the song in mind.

Even Amit Trivedi has a few remade tracks to his credit that draw their inspiration from folk songs. His music displays a smooth blend of folk with present-day instruments in the mainstream Bollywood scene.

First was Genda Phool, now Komola Shundori, what will be destroyed next?

But then walk-in artists (it is out of sheer decency that I call them so), who fail to understand the ethos of a song like Komola Shundori, or Genda Phool. They twist the playful, mischievous lyrics to suit their presentation of vulgarity via the lyrics and the moves.

I am tired of Bollywood throwing around big money, and claiming to be the pride of the nation when in reality they are more hollow than an empty vessel. Commercial profit is blinding, so much so to the level that one grows arrogant.

Maybe PewDiePie was right when he dissed T-Series:

“So come on T-Series, looking hungry for some drama

Here, let me serve you ___________”

If you’re a Gen-Z kid, you would know.

Image source: still from the Dotara music video, edited on CanvaPro 

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About the Author

Akankha Basu Roy

The author is a Gen-Z kid who resorts to writing to vent out about the problematic ways of the world. Having majored in Theatre, English, and Psychology, I take a guilty pleasure in complex read more...

52 Posts | 31,861 Views

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