Ashok Ramchunder, the legendary Indian-origin singer of South Africa known for his ‘chutney’ music, passed away at 67. He was fondly called the ‘King of Chutney’ for the way he blended traditional Indian folk songs with indigenous phrases. Ramchunder died on Monday and was buried on Tuesday in his home town of Phoenix, north of Durban. He had not been keeping well from some time.
South African music lovers mourned the death of Ramchunder. He acquired the title ‘King of Chutney’ for belting out compositions in a unique adaptation of the traditional Bhojpuri folk song style, often combined with some indigenous language phrases, which found wide appeal locally and abroad, especially in the Caribbean islands because of its similarity to the Calypso music.
Among the prolific hits in his 48-year singing career was a song titled Hare Baap Re Baap, which became an anthem at weddings and other celebrations in the Hindi-speaking community in South Africa.
Ramchunder was also a popular Bhajan singer, frequently singing at several temple functions in different towns across South Africa. Pundit Satish Maharaj, a life-long friend of Ramchunder who performed the final rites, described him as a religious man who was “down to earth”. “The (music) industry has lost a legend,” Maharaj said.
Tributes poured in from all over the world. “Sad to hear you are no more but will always remember your enthusiasm for music and cherish that always. In music we will always be together,” singer Shashika Mooruth wrote on her Facebook page.