Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hina Khan have been regulars at Cannes, representing India at the prestigious film festival. However, this time around, it is a folk artiste who has everyone’s attention. Mame Khan, a Rajasthani singer, made Indians all over proud as he became the first Indian folk artist to open the Cannes red carpet for India.

Who Is Mame Khan?

If you have heard “Baawre” from Luck By Chance, “Aitbaar” from Nobody Killed Jessica, then you have already been introduced to Khan’s music. He belongs to the famous Manganiyar Gharana of Rajasthan and is the 14th generation of this gharana. 

His musical career started in Satto, a sleepy little village in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer. The artiste was encouraged to explore music by his father Rana Khan, who was also one of the popular singers of the gharana. Talking about his time at the gharana, Khan once told BBC Hindi, “While eating and drinking, we know and learn music, but it does not have any degree.”

The singer is known for his energetic performances and vocal skills. He uses Jangra, a style of music he learned at the Manganiyar Gharana, for his songs, and relies of rare instruments like the bowed kamaicha and the percussion piece khartal

Initially, Mame Khan had his attention set on instruments, making rhythms and he loved to play the dholak. But it was during a world tour in 1999 that he took up singing, upon the advice of his father. He also was the only member of the gharana to perform on Coke Studio, in which he collaborated with Amit Trivedi for “Choudhary”. 

Mame Khan Goes To Bollywood

The singer had been performing folk songs at various local festivals and celebrations. In 2005, things changed for Khan. He was invited to sing at musician-actor Ila Arun’s daughter’s wedding. Impressed by his skills, a Mumbai-based musician mentioned his name to composer-singer Shankar Mahadevan. He was then auditioned by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who then gave him the opportunity to sing “Baawre” for Zoya Akhtar’s film Luck By Chance. The song was an instant hit, and it is still a popular track. 

His Achievements

After Baawre and the Coke Studio stint, he performed with the popular fusion band Maati Baani at the Sandstorm Festival in 2013. He then met theatre director Roysten Abel and the two worked on The Manganiyar Seduction, one of his most ambitious projects. The performance had made a debut at the London’s Womad Festival. His last work was the percussion-heavy “Nakhralo” from the Abhishek Bachchan starrer Dasvi.

His Cannes Debut

Led by the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mame Khan was a part of the Indian delegation at Cannes. For his red carpet entry, Khan donned a traditional Rajasthani outfit. He paired a bright pink kurta set with an embroidered blue jacket, designed by Anjuli Chakraborty. A traditional headgear and classy sunglasses completed the look.

(Featured Image Credits: Instagram @mamekhan)