By Ahana Bhattacharya
Mumbai: Bengali folk artiste Ratan Kahar suddenly finds himself in the limelight as never before. It is the sort of pan-India limelight he didn’t quite enjoy even at the peak of his success — when he created the all-time Bengali folk pop hit “Boroloker biti lo” all those decades ago in 1972.
Kahar’s name comes in the spotlight because rap superstar Badshah has used portions of the song in his new single, “Genda phool”. Soon after the song was released, social media went wild accusing Badshah of plagiarism, citing Kahar as the original’s creator. Following this, the rapper on Wednesday had issued a statement saying he has been trying to reach out to Kahar but has not been able to do so owing to the nationwide lockdown.
Kahar, a veteran folk singer-songwriter now lives in poverty-stricken condition in Birbhum district’s Siuri town with his family. Age has taken a toll on his health but even today, people call him from faraway places like Durgapur to felicitate him for his music, and he sings and dances on stage with the gusto of a teenager.
Reacting to the news that Badshah wants to reach out to him to acknowledge the fact that his creativty has been used in “Genda phool”, Kahar sounds happy.
“It feels great that such a renowned artist has used my song and has expressed his desire to help me. I have watched his video and I liked it,” the 80-plus singer singer told IANS.
He adds after a pause, on a more sober note: “I hope Badshah will help me. I expect a little monetary help from him. I live in a poverty-stricken condition and will be glad to receive his help.”
When a star like Badshah, who has a global fan base, used “Boroloker biti lo” in his new song, Kahar’s creation has also reached audiences all over the world. The song that he created in 1972 is today seeing a spirited revival. Does Kahar feel the rush all over again?
“It feels great that people are listening to my song. I feel so proud and happy. This song of mine has enjoyed immense popularity in so many years but only within West Bengal. I had never imagined an artist of Badshah’s stature would use it. I’m happy that people everywhere else are listening to my song now. Badshah has used the track in his own style, and in a way nobody did before.”
Kahar is now eager to meet Badshah. He wants the rapper to visit his place. “I want Badshah to visit me and talk to me. I would first like to thank him for using my song. I am also eager to discuss music with him if he has the time,” expressed the folk artist.
On Wednesday rapper Badshah tweeted his statement where talking about Ratan Kahar he mentions: “After receiving so much information from the Bengali community, I have been constantly trying my best to reach out to him and connect with him and be able to do justice to the situation to all my might. However, the lockdown situation has not been very helpful, it has been difficult to get through to the village that Shri Kahar is in and I am still trying. I urge and request any of the representatives who have been speaking on his behalf, to help me connect with him so I can do whatever possible on my part on humanitarian grounds to put this right.”