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Recasting Folk in the HimalayasIndian Music, Media, and Social Mobility$
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Stefan Fiol

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041204

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041204.001.0001

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Mohan Upreti and the Assimilation of Folk Music in Nehruvian India

Mohan Upreti and the Assimilation of Folk Music in Nehruvian India

(p.51) 2 Mohan Upreti and the Assimilation of Folk Music in Nehruvian India
Recasting Folk in the Himalayas

Stefan Fiol

University of Illinois Press

Beginning in the late 1940s, artists from a variety of backgrounds--urban and rural, upper-caste and lower-caste, professional and amateur, hereditary and non-hereditary--began to self-identify as folk artists in an effort to stimulate political change. This chapter focuses on the life and creative efforts of Mohan Upreti, an influential political activist and composer who staged folk ballads in Delhi by fusing influences from the Indian People’s Theatre Association, the international Communist movement, Hindustani music, the Almora-based Ramlila, and the stories and performance styles of Hurkiya balladeers. Upreti found patronage through the state institutions of the Nehru administration, which in turn sought to codify regional folkloric and classical genres in order to promote diversity while suppressing antinationalist sentiment. Upreti and other reformers created a new context for understanding folk music in urban India, and in the process they fashioned themselves into a new kind of folk artist.

Keywords:   Mohan Upreti, cultural nationalism, Indian People’s Theatre Association, Ramlila, Kumaon, hurkiya, folklorization, folk ballads

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