The Punjabi tadka

Amrita Prasad
Monday, 25 December 2017

Celebrated Punjabi singers talk about the changing perception about the music of the region and the boost it has received in the recent past.

What do you find common between Suit Suit or Oh Ho Ho Ho from Hindi Medium, Kala Chashma from Baar Baar Dekho, Banja Tu Meri Rani from Tumhari Sulu, Kamli from Happy New Year and Mirzya’s title track? The fact that they are Punjabi numbers and they have been chartbusters. 

Today every second Bollywood film is using popular Punjabi numbers. And T-series’ Mixtape has made a comeback with a Punjabi twist and it shows 14 musical episodes with 2​7​ Punjabi singers like Hans Raj Hans, Neha Kakkar, Mika Singh, Daler Mehndi, Sukhbir etc, performing live duet or solo performance on a mix of all-time favourite Punjabi songs ranging from Bollywood, Punjabi folk, traditional harmonies and so on. The Punjabi music scene therefore looks promising. Here’s chatting up the artists who tell us about the progressive shift in Punjabi music: 

Give us a peek into your performance on the show 

Neha Kakkar: I am a part of two episodes this time. One is with Gippy Grewal and Hardy Sandhu on their songs Car Nachdi and Horn Blow and the other episode is with Guru Randhawa on his songs High Rated Gabru and Banja Tu Meri Rani. All these songs have been received well and it’s an honour to be associated with these esteemed artists.

Daler Mehndi: This is a special party edition, wherein so many renowned artists and singers from the Punjabi fraternity will be performing under one roof. I am pretty sure our tracks will do well. I am doing a solo performance on my songs — Kudiyan Shehar Diyan and Na Na Na re. Music director Abhijit Vaghani has created a wonderful version of the song and given me a chance to revive my chartbusters.   

Hans Raj Hans: My first performance is with my son, Navraj on the songs Ae Jo Silli Silli and Narazgi and that’s the biggest feeling a father can have. Ae Jo Silli Silli song was among my first few songs with Gulshan Kumar and to recreate it today gives me a great feeling. My second performance would be with Harshdeep Kaur on the songs Challa and Ni Main Kamli. T-series has been instrumental in giving us a chance to sing some of our best songs. Their ideas and execution are great. I hope the audience enjoys our performance.

Kanika Kapoor: I am performing alongside Sukhwinder Singh on the songs Marjaani and Lovely. Vaghani has played with both the songs very well by mixing one into another effortlessly, creating a somewhat new peppy version for the party season. 
Harshdeep Kaur: Well, I was really glad to be a part of the first season and even happier to be part of this Punjabi edition. It is really a big thing that Punjabi artists have become so famous that they have a show in their own dialect. I will be sharing the stage with legendary Hans Raj Hans as we perform on the songs Challa and Ni Main Kamli. The songs we are performing are folk Punjabi songs which will be presented in a very modern arrangement. 

Mika Singh: Already hit and superhit songs of mine will be heard again in a recreated version which is something I am looking forward to. There is live singing, dhol with a jamming session including a mix of two songs which is a good concept. The mashup of both my songs Mauja Hi Mauja and Saj Dhaj Ke is great and a coincidence that both are pictured on Shahid Kapoor.   

Sukhbir: This is probably the first time that I am going to see them do a Punjabi Mixtape — bringing different artists from different genres and mixing them up. I am collaborating with Mehak Malhotra and Millind Gaba for the songs Soni de Nakhre, and Oh Ho Ho Ho. It’s going to be a power-packed performance. 

How do you look at the evolution of Punjabi songs from being folk songs to Bollywood tracks and hit numbers abroad?
Neha: Punjabi music was doing extremely well earlier and today it has a global audience as well. I believe music directors make whatever sells. People are loving recreations and Punjabi songs so much that such compositions have to be created.

Daler: What can be a bigger exposure than Bollywood in India? My first song got world famous after it was launched in a Hindi movie. Also, after Punjabi artists were launched in Bollywood, people’s perception changed and we got more acceptance from them. 

Hans Raj: There has been an immense change in Punjabi music since the time I started my career to now when my son has entered the field. People have taken a liking to it and want to enjoy it in films as well. It’s more like a demand-supply chain. We are happy about it. 

Mika: Practically every movie has a Punjabi song and the older Punjabi tracks are also coming back and turning into hit numbers. The audience loves the music and the filmmakers want to provide what sells. 

Harshdeep: Punjabi as a language is so powerful that everyone instantly relates to it. Because of the same quality and upbeat nature, it is often used in Bollywood movies.

What modifications are done to the original Punjabi tracks to make them more peppy and young?  

Neha: I put special elements in my singing. When you put forth something new, the youth responds to it. 

Daler: In 1995, I introduced Punjabi indie pop music, a genre that was lauded by Indians. Even discotheques started playing Punjabi music. The music has changed a lot over time and so has the audience taste. As a result, musicians have to make music which is accepted by the audience. These days, musicians add a portion of rap, some inappropriate words, weird lyrics and a Western touch saying this is what sells. But it’s a fact that the acceptance of Punjabi music by today’s youth and people across the world has increased.

Hans Raj: Music is always changing and today’s generation loves everything fast, like fast food, fast cars and fast music. It does not mean it is bad. I believe singing is a very delicate thing and one should learn it aesthetically.  

Kanika: Youth is thoroughly enjoying Punjabi music — it is played at all weddings, night clubs, parties and functions. Not only the youth but seniors are also enjoying it and we are glad to see them enjoy our music.

Sukhbir: We did a remake of my old song Gal Ban Gayi. When I met a 10-year-old, he told me, ‘I heard you sing a song uncle, Gal Ban Gayi but I haven’t watched the original, so I am going to go back home and watch it’. So, there is an interest in the original songs as well. I think for the new generation, it’s a fantastic thing.

How are platforms like YouTube, Facebook and iTunes helping in the popularity of Punjabi numbers?

Daler: Artists have grown so much through the digital platform. My song Tunak Tunak is trending online even after so many years. Digital platforms help you connect with your international fans and thereby help create a wider fan base. Today’s generation is attached to digital and social media and I am thankful to god for being able to see this digital age and moreover being part of such a great musical digital property — Mixtape Punjabi.  

Harshdeep: Social media has given a direct link to the artist to reach his/her audience. It’s a great way to connect to people and get their first-hand reactions on your work. When it comes to YouTube, it is for anybody and everybody. Sometimes you don’t have the resources to release an album or be part of a reality show. That’s when YouTube helps and if you’re really good, your song can go viral.

Hans Raj: When I started off my career, there were no social media platforms. But now the web platform has become vast. It’s been a blessing for us as it helps us connect with our viewers, audience across the world and vice versa. We are able to gauge our demand too. 

Kanika: With the digital platform becoming so big and accessible to people across the world, it definitely provides a boost for Punjabi music. Not only do the songs get familiar but one relates to the artists performing in it, too.

Sukhbir: I think this is probably the best thing that has happened to music now. For example, anybody can sing now. I can see an amazing little girl singing from South Africa. I didn’t understand what she was singing but it brought tears to my eyes. Talking about globalisation, you can have access to any artist anywhere. People like Justin Bieber have been discovered on YouTube. There is hope.

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