While Punjabi music in the '80s was dominated by Gurdas Maan's folk, in the early 1990 Surjit Bindrakhia's rustic charm took over. It was in 1999 that Harbhajan Mann introduced a unique fusion of folk and pop to top the MTV charts with his track 'Oye Hoye'.
More than a decade later, the singer feels that the quality of Punjabi music has deteriorated.
"Though these 'yo!' singers have brought a change for the audience, one can't deny that their kind of music has also dealt a blow to Punjabi culture," says Mann whose much-awaited Satrangi Peengh Vol. 2 will hit the shelves soon.
"Their music seems to be a fake depiction of our culture; violence is not what Punjab is all about," says Mann about the current crop of singers.
Unlike other Punjabi singers, he doesn't aim for Bollywood. "I don't want to brag about my calibre. Though getting a breakthrough in Bollywood is not a big deal, ultimately it depends on what kind of song you get to sing there. I would have felt uncomfortable returning to Punjab after singing a song like Maa Da Ladla," he minces no words.
He says, "In Hollywood, music and films are two separate industries, and that's the way it should be. We only have one - Bollywood - that's the reason that individual talent is suffering, as Bollywood music is hijacking Hindi as well as Punjabi pop."
The singer-turned-actor who has been credited for reviving Punjabi cinema with Jee Aayan Nu, says, "I had to convince Man ji [director Manmohan Singh] a lot to upgrade the budget of the film to 2.5 crores, which was big amount at that time. He was a little reluctant but I guaranteed him a hit, and in case it was a flop, I gave him my word for complimentary albums!"
No, acting in Bollywood is not on cards for him. "I was offered the role which Sonu Sood played in Singh Is Kinng. Do you think it was worth it? I don't believe in making a fool of myself and that too just for the tag of a 'Bollywood actor'," says Mann who has a couple of Punjabi films in the pipeline. "One of the films is Shareek with director Navniat Singh," he informs.
Though a successful Punjabi actor, the singer never let his live performances take a backseat.
However, singers like Mika and Master Saleem seem to enjoy pan-India popularity than just being Punjabi icons. "That's true but how many albums has Mika taken out," says Mann, who adds, "I don't need any tag in the industry, I have survived thus far and will in the future too."
Harbhajan Mann will perform live at Heartline Concert organised by Rotaract Club of Chandigarh at Panjab University on Wednesday at 6pm.