The stories of the victorious Rajput generals can still be heard in Orchha. Just that the folklores have been pushed to one of the corners of an open air terrace restaurant. It takes you some while to understand what a group of villagers are doing in your restaurant terrace. And it takes you a lot more time to understand their importance in history.
After ordering an Old Monk with warm water Me & Sambit decided to sit in the open to finish our drinks. We were the only people in the terrace that evening and lucky enough to get the sole attention of our entertainers.
Sarju – the teacher, Sarju a man who is still trying to pass on the tradition of singing to the next generation. The skills and stories which had trickled down generations (or simply guru-shishya parampara).
Moolchand – the follower, Moolchand a man in his 50’s or maybe 60’s who is still trying to learn as much as possible from Sarju.
Moolchand knows the fact that the bardic tradition in Bundelkhand is on its verge of extinction. Still his defenses are strong and he’s trying to inherit every bit of the stories and tunes from his teacher. Sitting in a corner of a restaurant Moolchand tries hard to sing and impress his audience. The audience who’s clueless about the tradition, isn’t bothered about much beyond his glass of beer or whisky. The only thing that interests the audience is the cross-dresser sitting in the middle of the singers. And once in a while he gets up and does a little dance number for amusement. Atleast that keeps the audience intrigued in the show.
Moolchand had been keeping the fort by singing one song after the other. The audience who had been exposed to Bollywood songs and can’t find a meaning to this evening. But surely he’s happy that he can go home and boost about the traditional songs and music he had appreciated in Bundelkhand.
Alla and Udal the Rajput generals had been alive over the last few centuries in the songs of the Bards of Bundelkhand.
The Bards may have been minimised to the bar of a small hotel, or an evening gathering at local politicians lawn, but the Bards bring in fire to the stories of Alla and Udal by dancing and singing in this December night. When Sarju sings in Bundelkhandi Moolchand does a quick translation in Hindi telling us about the valour of Alla and Udal.
Soon the cross-dressed dancer leaves the stage maybe there’s some more important things to do. Some more dances to perform. Who cares.
Some more uninterested audience enter the theatre. Moolchand at this age showing his agility by performing what he must have learnt as boy from Sarju. Sarju is still singing what he had learnt maybe half a century ago from his guru. When one of the audience gets up to ask more about there trade, there is a joy of success in theIR camp. And with this Moolchand does his last number as Sarju sings at the top of his voice. And Bundelkhand rocks to the sound of victory.
Sarju and Moolchand are no less brave in defending the dying tradition of Allakhand and along with it the Bards of Bundelkhand than the Generals themselves.
One day when you visit Bundelkhand make sure you give them another chance of victory and come back home with the stories of Alla and Udal.