| The Saffron Musical Robes of the Jogiya - An exclusive interview with Punjab ki Shaan - Gurdas Maan! |
Interviewed and Written by: Anu Gopalakrishnan
Miindia.com Exclusive 2014
Armed with a powerful repertoire of meaningful songs that can swell anybody’s eyes, the music of Gurdas Maan has touched many souls over several years. From the start of his hit number “Dil Da Mamla Hai” to the very poignant on screen presence in the 2014 Punjabi film “Dil Vil Pyar Vyar”, this “Punjab di mitti” effect has completely enveloped the emotions of the audience. How can I attribute his success to a single solo, when every number of his has been globally received and commended by millions? His calm posture, his kind heart, his meaningful lyrics, his connection with the people is what sets him apart. Having triumphed over two ill-fated accidents, Gurdas Maan has not lost his soulful “joie de vivre” in his musical journey towards pleasing hearts and enriching souls.
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Gurdas Maan speaks to Anu Gopalakrishnan about his globally acclaimed music, the influence of Bollywood, the changing digital technology of making music and his visit to Michigan in an exclusive interview to Miindia.com ©2014
Here are some excerpts:
Q: The transition from being a singer to an actor- what prompted you to pursue acting?
My exposure towards music and drama happened right from my very young age. Music is always an expression of who a person is, and what he or she has gone through in life. I think drama is involved in every art. Just like a painter sketches or paints on a canvas, a story is being told. Likewise, as a musician or as a dancer, we tell stories through songs and expressions. I started to sing on the stage, then entered college where I dabbled with dramatics, then television followed and after that films. It was a natural transition for me. There are so many singing styles and genres that need to be exposed to people. So, from a smaller medium of singing on stage, radio, television, I had many opportunities to share my songs on a larger platform and I said why not? A musician’s career is always flexible.
Q: Punjabi music received a lot of global attention owing to your music, how do you feel about it?
What can I say? “Punjabi Dhol sab ko nacha dethi hai”(translated The Punjabi musical instrument “Dhol” makes everyone dance) - The accolades go to the listeners and my audience. I cannot take complete responsibility for the success of Punjabi music. A lot of people are involved in making a song. A lot of people have spread the Punjabi culture in every aspect of living on a global platform. Right from food, movies, dancing to music, Punjabis have an entertaining culture and we don’t sit quiet when we listen to music. We have to dance. Any music given in the right proportions, be it arrangement, composition, tunes, lyrics, singers, instrumentation will definitely be well received. My “desi” style of “Geet –Sangeet” has been accepted but I would also give credit to those independent musicians who have put Punjabi music in all the discotheques and in the Top Ten Music Listings across the world. Connection with the audience is a must. When I get lost in performing and in my music, I really have no idea how I end up connecting with my audience.
Q: With new singers coming with new styles and also the Bollywood influence, where is “original” Punjabi music headed to?
Honestly speaking, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. As times change, styles change, people’s mind set changes, technology changes, relationships change. Music will definitely change. Change is good for any industry. We should embrace the change in the right way. Of course, the audience have become very musically evolved. They accept or decline a song instantly. At the end of the day, if there is a song that abounds in vulgarity, you will see that it would be enjoyed only by a small set of listeners, It will not get global attention. But, I am fine with the way younger artists use digital technology to their advantage. Melody is lost. But people know that listening to Gurdas or Harbhajan or any flavor in that genre has a different appeal all together and they know where to find it. In fact, I would like to commend the youngsters living outside of India making Punjabi music and putting them right on top of the music charts. I am proud to say that Punjabi music has featured in the top spots for several years and this shows the power of the audience.
Q: You have often been called as the Flavor of Punjab, the Pride of Punjab. What does that mean to you?
Well, it means being a true-blue Punjabi in every sense of my living. Well, expectations are high every time I write or compose a song, sing a number or even perform. I always make sure the pride we have as a Punjabi magnifies in every sense of the word. As Punjabis we always bless others with good health, prosperity, goodness, success and abundance. That’s what Punjab is all about. When they say he is a true Punjabi- that means the individual will selflessly give and help another. Through music, I try to spread happiness, joy and tears of goodness. So many Punjabi musicians have garnered international recognition. I am part of that army of singers. We have a huge responsibility on our shoulders of maintaining that pride, and we should not fail in exercising that duty of entertaining our audience. Our focus is to make our audience free of pain. When my audience leaves the auditorium, I want them to know that Punjabi music touches the soul and being a Punjabi is a proud moment.
Q: How do you feel about performing in Michigan?
I am excited. Music is Junoon(Passion). Music is Bandagi (Bondage) for me. When you have passion and bondage in terms of prayer then you will notice that I am waiting to perform and connect with my audience. I have heard from my friends and other sources that the audience in Detroit/Michigan is very musically inclined. I am very enthusiastic to witness that energy. I will be giving a range of music for my dear audience with complete total “desi flavor” – Tadka laga denge! I am coming with lots of love and I hope to receive a lot of it too.
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Special thanks to Mr.Dhaliwal and Mr. Davinder Grewal for coordinating the interview.
Interviewed and Written by Anu Gopalakrishnan (Rockin’ Raaga WCXI 1160 AM)
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