City Secrets – Mountain Melodies in Smoggy Delhi

Contact for ad enquiries.

The place where mountain people get their song and dance.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

The smoggy ITO crossing can hardly be mistaken for the breezy Mall Road of Mussoorie. But curiously, it is here that the natives of Kumaon and Garhwal presently residing in Delhi head for their music fix. All thanks to four rickety stalls specializing in Garhwali and Kumaoni music videos.

These stalls are a treasure-trove for Uttaranchali music lovers. (Uttaranchal is a tiny Himalays province north of Delhi and primarily consist of two regions of Garhwal and Kumaon.) About 300 VCDs, audio CDs, and cassettes fly off their shelves daily. Although there are Bhojpuri songs also in stock, the Uttaranchali chartbusters are the biggest draw. “Garhwalis come here from all parts of Delhi,” claims Ravindra Singh of the Maiti Music Center, who chose to name his stall after the Garhwali word for ‘maayka’. “An immigrant in Delhi is like a girl in her sasural who keeps yearning for her mother’s home,” he explains.

It would be a pity if this music remains limited in its appeal. There might be difficulty in understanding the language but the VCDs are really amusing. True, the camera work is amateurish, the dance steps contrived, but the home video feel is endearing.

For a dummies’ guide to Uttaranchali music Dinesh Singh of Pooja Music Center comes to the rescue. “Narendra Singh Negi is our Amitabh Bachchan,” he says recommending Nauchemi Narena. This bestselling music album is a spoof on former Uttaranchal chief minister N. D. Tiwari. The video plays on popular perceptions about him, showing a Tiwari look-alike playing the flute and serenading several young women.

Music videos on love songs sometimes feature deliciously raunchy dance numbers, but alas, they lack the spicy rawness of their Bhojpuri counterparts. Still, entertainment is guaranteed. Have fun.

Price VCDs and Audio CDs are priced at Rs 40, Audio cassettes at Rs 25 Timing 8 am to 9 pm Where Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Opposite Abdul Nabi Masjid