Interview with “The Bhangra King” Daler Mehndi
- When and how did you develop interest in music Daler sir?
~ My mother was doing Prabhakar in Hindustani classical music when I was in her womb. She had decided and they told me that she continuously petitioned the Divine to bless her with a son who would sing like no other. Ever since I was born, there was music all around. Takht Sri Patna Sahib (my birthplace) resonated with the words of the Guru’s rendered in classical ragas. My interest in music was pre-ordained.
- Your music has touches of Sufi, Pop, Punjabi Folk and Rock. You have apparently also created another genre of music, “Rababi”. Tell us something about it.
~ My initiation into music was with classical ragas, words of the Gurus, Bhagats, Bards. I was exposed to very high quality of music -listening the great masters like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib, Mehndi Hassan, Sher Ali Meher Ali to name a few. Listening to songs especially from Punjab was strictly prohibited. The folk that I grew up listening was that of the legendary Tufail Niazi Sahab. So Sufi and this rich folk happened naturally. Pop happened with a sincere dedicated focus to make the world dance on clean words, to make the world a happy place – I wrote lyrics in my mother tongue, Punjabi composed to sounds that have traces of Bhangra,?tweaked to make it palatable to the world of music not just restraining to a region. Bhangra Punk Rock developed out of my zeal to experiment with sounds and has been a natural progressio. Traces of which can be found if you study my musical journey. Sunna Sunna Vehra from the album Nach Ni Shaam Kaure released under Universal Music in the year 2000 shows my inclination towards bass, rock, new age. Rabaabi – the genre is a style of gaiki that has its foundation in the House of Guru Baba Nanak and his accompanist Bhai Mardana Ji. This genre is based on classical ragas and showcases the sound of the soul, the yearning, the joy, emotions of a spiritual quality through a way of singing.
- You have given us many hits. “Bolo Tara Ra Ra”, “Tunak Tunak” , “Hogayi to Bale balle”, etc., most of which have become party anthems. How much of a party animal are you?
~ My Party is my Performance on the stage overlooking a sea of fans ecstatic, happy, dancing where it’s just them, me and the Divine.
- You churned out hits at a time when the Indian Music Industry was going through a phase of transformation. Non -film songs became popular at that time. Tell us something how much difficult or easy was at that time of 90s and early 2000s.
~ It was a difficult time. People looked down upon regional language songs. Punjabi was restricted to Punjab. The early nighties party scene only supported English music. And then there was filmy music. Pop was absolutely nonexistent. Bolo Ta Ra Ra changed that both for me and the Industry. We didn’t have platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram to directly interact with our fans or put forth our point of view across anyone. But Tara Ra Ra stood tall in the face of the then prevalent music scenario and erected a parallel industry which now is flourishing in all its glory across the world. It is not so much the time as it is about your work and His Grace. The songs that I made over two decades ago are still being consumed by today’s youth not only in India but also across the Globe. It is very humbling.
- You have lived through a lot of changes in the industry. What do you have to say about the kind of music we get in the current digital era of YouTube and Twitter?
~ It’s a great time for music as it has opened avenue for every talented artist, musician. The world needs more dance music, the more the better.
The world gets dense without these light buoyant gifts of music, dance, arts to mankind.
- You have rendered the biggest hits of 2016 and 2017 – starting with Mirzya, then Dangal followed by Baahubali’s title track in Hindi, telugu and tamil share something about it.
~ Mirzya is the song of my soul and will always be very close to me. Dangal will motivate people for years to come and Baahubali was not only fun but also a feat to relish for a long time. Music is the purest form of nasha that continues to give joy both to the creator and the listener.
- The year (2000) in which Priyanka Chopra won the title of Miss World, that was the same year when she was featured in your video, Sajan Mere Satrangiya! What was your reaction when she had won the title?
~ Priyanka Chopra was given her first break in my video and she was then going to compete for the title. I told her and her mother during the shoot that she will win.
- Paji, you do a lot of live shows both in India and abroad. What kind of reaction do you get from the audience?
~ I am what I am because of my fans. I cannot even explain the gratitude I feel for their unparalleled love. The most heart touching is that my audience spectrum is huge, from a 14 months old to a 98 old are all enthralled and the smiles on their faces are my biggest gift. I have never been to Korea or Poland, but fans have reached out to me from every part of the world who don’t understand my language, I cant understand theirs but my songs are our common thread.
- Dalerji, you have so many fans.They love you so much! Your popularity knows no bounds. Infact Tunak Tunaktun has been incorporated in a video game as well! Do you feel pressurized by the amount of love and expectations that you receive from them?
~ I only feel gratitude and energized to serve my fans better and better. DM Music Academy is one such way of giving them back through sharing my knowledge and experiences.Tunak Tunak Tun is a very philosophical song on life and I am glad that the world dances and enjoys it to this date.
- What are your upcoming projects?
~ Few days back, we released a Sufi Live Album titled “Wedding Celebrations With Guru Nanak’s Family” – it’s available on Wynk, Hungama, Saavn, Gaana and will be up on I Tunes soon. You may watch it on my YouTube channel.
Kapil Sharma’s Firangi’s Title track.
Two songs in two leading Punjabi Films.
My next album is Bhangra Punk Rock – all geared up for that.
I have just done Asia’s First VIRTUAL REALITY video for Samsung which was revealed in USA in October this year by SAMSUNG. – another first for me. We were the first to use the green screen technology in music video back in 1998 in Tunak Tunak and the first to use High Definition cameras in music videos in 2003 in Shaa Ra Ra.
Daler Mehndi Music Academy of Arts and Technology is in its full swing to be launched. I am going to be train a very few selected kids from across the globe for music. The academy will be providing various courses with some of the best faculty from India on being a good music producer, sound engineer, guitar and keyboard classes apart from other courses.
DM Folk Studio is a Digital series which is hosted by me its raw and unscripted, where we get musicians, technicians, DJ’s, Legendary performers and share their success mantras with the world. It has achieved a great response that Radio City has now partnered with us.
Through Sikh Route and Sufi Route
These are both Digital Properties, the idea is to spread Love, Peace, Harmony and make the world smile and Dance their blues away.
- A message for your fans and upcoming musicians.
~ Stay Focused. Respect every artist, musician no matter how big or small they are. Stay clear of promoting or endorsing an idea of substance. Stay Light. Stay Happy. Spread Love and Harmony, the world needs it most right now. Love all coz Love is all there is.
Fans could directly reach out via:
- A message for LaughaLaughi.
~ I want to tell everyone about the perseverance that this team has. They have been constantly following up with me over two years and it’s only now that we have done this interview. I want to thank them for this patience and so much love. I am yet to find people who are this diligent. Bravo to everyone at LaughaLaughi. Wish you all more success.