It all began in Australia in 2008, when a rather inebriated Babbal sang the song Australian Challa for his friends on his birthday and let them make a video of it. The video then reached Orkut, where it received about one lakh hits within a week.
Today, Punjabi singer Babbal Rai owes his fame to YouTube. As the year 2008 progressed, Bollywood film Crook took ‘inspiration’ from Rai’s song, Australian Challa.
His recently released single, Sohni (from the album Desi Grrari) received about one million hits on YouTube in just two weeks. The Samrala boy shares his viral story of success with HT City, talking about his life in Australia, gaining popularity and doing a cameo in an upcoming Punjabi film.
“My father, Manjeet Singh Rai, was a theatre artiste and always wanted me to become a singer. Though I wasn’t very interested, I used to give performances as a child artiste. He passed away when I was in Class 10, and my interests shifted to sports. Once, at a stadium in Samrala, cricketer Yograj Singh saw me playing and asked me to come to Chandigarh. He got me admitted in DAV College, Chandigarh, where I played as a left hands batsman under him before moving to Australia in 2007,” shares Rai.
In Australia, Rai used to study in the morning and work as a cleaner at Coles Super Market at night. “Since I couldn’t get a bus from home to work in the night, the long walks made me pen down the poem, Niki Jahi Jind, which was later converted into a song and uploaded on YouTube, after Australian Challa became a hit,” he says and adds, “After the love I received from these songs, I uploaded other songs such as Tu Ehne Jogi Hai Ni, Maawan, Australian Challa 2, Australian Challa 3 and Dhakka Ho Geya. In 2009, I launched my first album, The First Chapter.
When the first album came out, I was driving cabs in Melbourne. Recently, since I got permanent residency in Australia, I decided to visit India to channel all my energies into singing.”
About Sohni from Desi Grrari, he says, “The song has been produced by my friends, Satti Chawla and Shinku Nabha and was designed by Baljinder Singh. I’m coming up with another single, Taur, besides beginning work on my second Punjabi album, which I plan to release in January 2013.”
Babbal has also sung the title track of upcoming Punjabi movie, Rangeelay. “I’m also playing a cameo in an upcoming Punjabi movie, the name of which I cannot disclose yet,” says he.
As a parting note he adds, “A networking site has changed my life completely. Since fans want to connect with me, I want to tell them that more than 30 fake IDs in my name are running on Facebook at the moment.”