In keeping with the true Punjabi spirit, two renowned brothers come together to create music, with the sole aim of preserving our 'endangered' culture. What's more-they decide to inform everyone about it over a hot cup of coffee, huddled around a bonfire on a bone-chilling Friday night.
Setting the mood with their new soulful track, Punjab Bolda Haan, brothers Harbhajan and Gursewak Mann talk about their latest album-Satrangi Peengh 2-at Hotel Altius, Industrial Area, Phase 2, Chandigarh.
"This album talks about the pain that Punjab's soil has witnessed," they say, assuring us that the Punjabi music industry is in safe hands, with singers like them living to preserve Punjab's virsa.
Defining his music as pure, Harbhajan insists on labeling his genre as 'narol' (pure) music. "Even 30 years down the line, when people dig up Punjabi music that was, they would listen to songs like Heer Ranjha, not Lak 28 Kudi Da," says he.
"Today, unfortunately, singing has become limited to recording songs in studios or lip sync during stage shows," adds Harbhajan, before breaking into another one of his tracks-Babe Bishne Di Baithak-a satire on today's Punjabi singers and their videos.
Returning to his album after the musical break, he says, "Satrangi Peengh was already an established name, so, we decided to cash in on its popularity. It took us almost two years to compose the nine tracks of the album. Time was the biggest constraint, as Gursewak, being a commercial pilot [in Canada] couldn't meet me regularly for recordings." Besides the cockpit, Gursewak knows how to get handy with instruments such as Tumbi and Sarangi, as was visible during the conversation.
The music for the album has been given by Jaidev Kumar, while the lyrics are by Babu Singh Maan and Karnail Singh Paras. The album cover too has been tastefully designed, with Harbhajan's brief biography, tracks' lyrics, and the posters of his albums and films.
About putting in so much effort on the cover in the times when people prefer direct downloads, Harbhajan says, "Today (January 5), I have completed 20 years in this music industry. I know traditional songs like ours do not earn much commercial success, but the first lot of the album has sold off already. We like to believe that people still value true artistes-the reason why Sartaj became popular and Gurdas Maan ji completed 35 years in the industry.
Ask him about the latest controversy over rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh's songs and he says, "Who says songs don't have an impact? They do! My song, Chithiye Ni Chithiye, got two young boys to patch things up with their mother. I wonder though, why did people not react earlier? If you want to dismiss them as 'party songs' I'd have to disagree. Even before these songs, we had a loaded archive of Punjabi dance numbers."
Declaring that he is working in two Punjabi movies, one of which is a family saga with director Manmohan Singh, Harbhajan Mann signs off.