ROURKELA: Life often is not a bed of roses after the cameras stop rolling. While the popular Sambalpuri folk number ‘Rangabati’ continues to enthral hearts of music connoisseurs even after 38 years it was first released, the voice which brought the song to life is at the brink of penury.
Acclaimed Sambalpuri singer-composer Jitendra Haripal (67), who once mesmerised an entire generation of music lovers, is now barely able to make his ends meet.
While cultural events have cashed in on the popularity of the Sambalpuri folk song and become commercial success over the decades, Haripal has been enduring misery all the while with empty pockets.
But the humble man expresses no qualms. “I am an artist and have earned my reputation for my talent. Singing is a devotion for me, not a means to earn money,” Haripal said.
Rangabati number with female co-singer Krishna Patel became an instant hit during 1976 when All India Radio broadcast it. Two years later, a Calcutta-based music company signed a contract with him and his songs’ gramophone disc was commercially released around 1980. Haripal had received only Rs 10,000 before the company faced lockout and subsequently, change of ownership. Ever since, the song has generated huge revenue for music companies while Haripal has been left in the lurch.
The singer and his troupe performed at the three-day Rangabati festival organised recently by Odisha Sangeet Natak Academy (OSNA) and Culture Department in association with Bhanja Kala Kendra to promote and popularise art and culture of Western Odisha. OSNA secretary Chittaran Ranjan Mallia said the festival was named Rangabati as the song is still a rage among music lovers. The song has helped popularise and expose Sambalpuri folk song beyond Odisha and international borders, he said.
Ironically, the organisers, who go gaga over the veteran singer’s musical prowess, are not so magnanimous when it comes to paying the artist. After paying the accompanying artists of his troupe, Haripal will be left with a paltry sum of Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000.
School drop-out and self-trained Haripal inherited the art of singing from his father Mandath. He is now putting all his efforts to pass on his singing skills to his sons and grand-children.
Showing no sign of bitterness, Haripal said, “Yes, I am dejected. But I have no strength to fight for my dues. Offers are pouring in from several music companies to sing, but I cannot make vulgarity a tool to earn livelihood and disrespect traditional art and culture.”
The versatile singer and musician is all set to record his second patriotic album with the help of Odisha Government.