Prominent folk singers and theatre artists of Uttarakhand

Prominent folk singers and theatre artists of Uttarakhand

Tinchari mai (Deepa devi)

Tinchari Mai was born in 1917 as Deepa Nautiyal in Majyur village of Thailsain block. At the age of two she lost her mother and by the time she was five, her father also died. An uncle took her under his shelter. There were no educational facilities those days in that area and girls were married off very early in their life. Deepa also got married at the age of seven to Ganesh Ram of Gravani village who was 17 years her senior. Ganesh Ram was a havaldar in the army and was posted in Rawalpindi. Deepa’s husband was a kind man. He treated her as a child, bathing her and dressing her up before leaving for his work. Her childhood and years as a teenager were actually spent with her husband. But he was killed in battle when Deepa was hardly 19. An officer in charge of the division called her and explained to her about the money that was due to her husband. The money would be handed over to her. But there was the question of where she was going to live. She had no parents and her in-laws would not be too eager to take care of a widow. Deepa made up her mind to stand on her own feet sometime in her life. Accompanied by an escort she came to Lansdowne where a senior British officer put her money in her name in a post office and told the pradhan of Gravani village to take her to her in-laws. No one really wanted her there and the fact that there was no financial benefit in supporting her must have added to the ill-treatment they meted out to her. Many widows may have put up with their lot and died in silence. But not Deepa. One day she left the house of her in-laws and went to Lahore and took shelter in a temple. There she met a sanyasin with whose guidance and blessings she became a sanyasin. She was given the name of Ichhagiri Mai.

Today is known as tinchari in this region and after this incident she began to be known as Tinchari Mai. She went to many other villages in the region to wage her fight against alcoholism. Urging women to get educated and telling men not to drink became her tireless mission. Tinchari Mai died in 1992 at the age of 75. Little child Deepa who grew up as an orphan, cared for by a husband who was old enough to be her father, widowed and alone in this world as a teenager, still made her life meaningful for herself and for others. She could have lived and died as a struggling widow but she chose not to. Throughout her life she fought for two causes which she took up as the mission of her life – one was education, as she was uneducated, and the other was the fight against alcoholism. That is why maybe her name is taken with great reverence in the villages of Uttarakhand.And her story will be told for many more years to the future generations in these villages.

B.M Shah

Brij Mohan Shah was born in the year 1933 in Nainital, Uttarakhand. He completed his education from his native place itself i.e. Nainital. At the age of 7, he entered in theatre field by performing small roles for Ramleela. In 1953, he started a dramatic association at college and wrote and created one –act shows that won rewards in intercollegiate and all-India championships.  In the year of 1957, B.M. Shah finally joined National School of Drama after completing his master’s in Geography. Later, this prominent Hindi Theatre personality enrolled ‘Little Theatre Group’ in Delhi.

B.M. Shah also directed play for the BNA- (Bhartendu Natya Academy), Lucknow and Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts Repertory group. He started ‘Rangmanch’ in 1964, along with J. N. Kaushal and B. V. Karanth. Later, he became the director at National School of Drama (1982-84). Earlier before that time, he also did a job at St. Columba’s school as a Sanskrit teacher.

Brij Mohan Shah died on June 5, 1998 in Lucknow. In the heritage of the eminent theatre director, ‘BM Shah Award’ was represented by Uttar Pradesh ‘Sangeet Natak Akademi’. The award was offered each year to for excellent involvement to the field of theatre.

Mohan Upreti

Mohan Upreti was renowned theater director, music composer and playwright. He was considered one of the true legends of Uttarakhand folk music as he gave a new identity of Uttarakhand state folk music. He was involved in carrying those folk stories to core stream which were only restricted to local people of Uttarakhand. Mohan Upreti is well known for his song titled “Bedu Pako, Bara Masa”. He also founded his theater group named as ‘Lok Kalakar Sangh’.

Mohan Upreti was born and brought up in Almora, Uttarakhand. He finished his schooling in Almora. During the period of 1940s and 50’s the great personality of theater music Mohan Upreti, travelled all through the Uttarakhand with Brij Mohan Shah, and composed fast vanishing folk songs, music, and legends region to maintain them for posterity. He started few institutions such as Parvatiya Kala Kendra (Center for Arts of the Hills), in Delhi, in order to bring the Kumaoni folk music into national focus.

He also joined National School of Drama, New Delhi as a faculty member and directed many plays for NSD academy, where his work for the play ‘indra Sabha’ was highly appreciated. Upreti’s most notable work is the impressive ballad ‘Rajula Malushahi’, directed in 1980 gives never before imminent into the Uttarakhand folk culture. Besides this, he also directed play ‘Nanda Devi Jagar’. Initially he worked for several years to revitalize traditional Ram-Lila plays and carry them to urban audiences.

Bhavna Khatri

Bhavna Khatri is a famous Indian television actress who was born 24 March 1987 at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. He father name is Rudra Singh and he is an army officer. She completed her graduation with Psychology from St.Mira’s college for girls in Pune. Since childhood she had craze of acting and dancing. She is younger sister of renowned danseuse Megha Khatri.

Bhavna Khatri begun her acting career with a famous television series Khwaish on Sony TV. Afterwards, she also played role in various other Hindi tv series namely Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil. After her appreciable role in this tv series, she played a lead role in the popular TV serial Jamunia on Imagine TV. She is very inspiring and hard-working and therefore she is consistently getting her role in different TV series. Currently, you can see her in famous aired on SAB TV named Badi Door Se Aaye Hain.

Hemant Pandey

Hemant Pandey is an India film, theatre and television actor, most known for his role as Pandeyji in TV series, Office Office (2000).  Originally from Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, Hemant Pandey got his first break in Delhi by an NGO called Janmadhyam and Allaripu which is specially for women. Hemant has worked in all fields of acting in theatre, television shows and movies also.

He got his first major role in 1996, with Taank Jhank. He played one of the tenant alongside with Dharmesh Vyas and Hemant Kevani, who wants to be an IAS officer. After that he worked in Office Office (TV show) and Mrs. Malinee Iyer (TV show) with his best contributions. According to Hemant Pandey, he grew up watching comedies of the legendary Johny Walker and Johnny Lever, the comedian.

He worked as a character named “Ghasita” on Imagine TV’s Neer Bhare Tere Naina Devi. In this, Ghasita is a common villager and like many in his village, he too is burdened by poverty. Being the sole bread-winner of the family, he does not think twice the moment he gets a chance to become rich even at the cost of his daughter Laxmi being exploited. He fools the villagers by projecting his daughter as a Devi and pockets the money he earns in the name of God. As the wealth starts pouring in, his stature in the village and his lifestyle changes. He starts believing that he is now the most powerful man of the village eventually becoming cunning, shrewd and greedy.

Meena Rana

Mina Rana is one of the prolific singers of the state of Uttarakhand who has sung many Garhwali and Kumaoni music albums. She is one of the finest singers in the female category and is even said as the “Lata Mangeshkar” of Uttarakhand. She has also won many awards and accolades but has never undergone any sort of formal training in the field of singing.

Meena Rana was born on 24th May in Delhi. Her initial years of schooling she did it from Batlar Memorial Girls Senior Secondary, Delhi. She stayed in Delhi till her 9th standard but later she moved to Mussoorie, Uttarakhand with her elder sister. Later, she got married to Sanjay Kmola and came to settle in Delhi again. BY profession, her husband is a music director and runs a music studio by the name of Surabhi Multi Track Sound. The studio is named after their daughter, Surabhi. Meena sang many songs and in most of the song she has tried to describe the scenic beauty of Uttarakhand which is close to her heart.

Meena Rana did not undergo any formal training instead she was a huge fan of Lata Mangeshkar and started listening to her songs at an early age of her life. She did her first live performance at Akashvani club which earned her huge praises. Her first movie break was “Nauni Pichadi Nauni” when she was in highschool. Meena has earned numerous awards as in-

2010 Best Singer Female- Palya Gaun ka Mohana

2011 Best Singer Female- Au Bulanu Yo Pahara

2012 Best Singer Female – Ham Uttarakhand Chha

Girish Tiwari  ‘Girda’

Girish Chandra Tiwari “Girda” (10 September 1945 – 22 August 2010) was a scriptwriter, director, lyricist, singer, poet, organic culturist, literary writer, and social activist in Uttarakhand, India.

Girda has directed famous plays like “Andha Yug”, “Andher Nagri”, “Thank you Mr. Glad” and “Bharat Durdasha”. Girda has written plays including “Nagare Khamosh Hain” and “Dhanush Yagya”. Girda edited “Shikharon ke Swar” in 1969, and later “Hamari Kavita ke Ankhar” and “Rang Dari Dio Albelin Main”. His latest compilation of poems and songs specially focusing “Uttarakhand Andolan” and “Uttarakhand Kavya” was published in 2002.  He took voluntary retirement from the post of instructorship in the Song and Drama Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and thereafter joined the Uttarakhand movement, and took to full-time creative writing. He was one of the founders and member of the editorial board of PAHAR, a Nainital-based organisation involved with promotion of Himalayan culture.  Bedupako, the folk genome tank of Uttarakhand has published a small collection of Poem’s in original voice of this legendary personality. He died on 22 August 2010, after a brief illness and was survived by his wife Hemlata Tiwari and one son.

Narendra Singh Negi

Narendra Singh Negi (born 12 August 1949) is one of the most prominent folk singers of the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.

Negi started his music career by releasing “Garhwali Geetmala”. These Garhwali Geetmalas came in ten different parts. As these Garhwali Geetmalas were from different companies he was finding it difficult to manage them. So he finally switched into releasing his cassettes by giving them separate titles. His first album was titled Buraans, after a flower found in the hills. He has sung over 1,000 songs.

He has also given his voice in Garhwali movies such as Chakrachal, Gharjawai, and Meri Ganga Holi Ta Maima Aali. Bollywood singers Udit Narayan, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Purnima, Suresh Wadekar, Anuradha Paudwal, Jaspal also sung in Garhwali films under his music direction. Purnima sung many Garhwali songs with him.  Although he mostly composes his music in the folk genre, his lyrics depict a huge range of anxieties, tensions and human insights of the people of Uttarakhand. Songs like “Naya Zamana Ka Choron” which shows generational disparity, “Bol Chitthi Kile Ni Bhezi” depicting the innocence of adolescent love and “tehri doobhana lagyun cha” which shows the pain of people losing their homes because of the tehri dams are some of his hits.His song “Nau Chami Narayana” about government corruption created quite uproar among that times congress government led by Narayan Dutt Tiwari.


Chander Singh Rahi

Born in a small village Giwali located in Ekeshwar block of Pauri district in the year 1942, Rahi learned the early lessons in singing from his father who was a Jagar (religious folk compositions) singer. The old timers fondly remember the days when his melodious voice from Najibabad station of All India Radio (AIR) use to break the silence of mountain helmets and enthused the tired hill folks. ‘ Dekh hilma chandi ku batana, mere manma tumahri ratna; Soli Ghura Ghur; Satpuli ka Senna Meri bahu surila are some of his celebrated numbers which are still popular among masses.

Rahi to his credit has collected more than 2500 folk songs. He was a avid collector and preserved many folk musical instruments of Uttarakhand. The singer was living in a rented house in Shakarpur locality of Delhi from last 40 years and is survived by his wife,  four sons and a daughter.




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