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Malkit Singh
Indo-Asian News Service, PTI
New Delhi, January 06, 2004
First Published: 00:00 IST(5/1/2004)
Last Updated: 18:18 IST(6/1/2004)

Malkit Singh wants to be the messiah of bhangra.

Sitting in his New Delhi office, the Birmingham-based singer, listed by the Guinness Book as the world's largest selling bhangra artiste, frowns slightly before flashing a large grin.

"It (bhangra) has taken a bit of a beating, hasn't it?" Singh asks, more to himself, than anyone else, his turban with a string of semi-precious stones tilting down slightly.

"I mean, all this bad trouble with Daler, now I hear if bhangra singers want a visa, they (the authorities) think they'll never come back," said Singh, who added that he believes fallen bhangra idol Daler Mehendi was innocent.

Mehendi and his brother are fighting charges of running a multi-million-rupee illegal immigration racket.

That, said Singh, has got his beloved bhangra is bit out of tune. That's why he is back, promoting his new album "Chal Hun", shooting videos and preaching back the rhythm.

"When I heard about the trouble, I wanted to be back home. I heard people saying people hate bhangra in India and I was so, so unhappy. After all, this is where it all began," Singh told IANS in an hour-long interview.

Since then, Singh has taken the Punjabi vernacular to wide-ranging experiments to rap with strains of underground grunge, hip-hop and Hindi film music, picking up along the way, 12 number-one hits of the British charts that have turned the village boy into a multi-millionaire.

After his first super hit "Tutak Tutak Tutian", he strode from the mustard fields of Punjab to the chrome-curtained studios in London.

Two of the biggest crossover films in recent years, Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding" and Grinder Chadha's "Bend It Like Beckham" feature Singh's songs "Gur Nal Ishq Mitha" and "Jind Mahi" respectively.

"Films are a big new wave," said Singh. "They are changing the way audiences perceive songs and add an entirely new dimension of identification."

In his new album, his 20th, produced by Universal, Singh jams with Apache Indian and Britain's latest hit band "Payasyougo".

"You can say it's the combination of the old and the new, with me in between," laughs Singh.

But the song that's closest to his heart is the one sung by his four-year-old son.

"I'm teaching my son the moves every day and he doesn't seem very interested in studies, well," Singh smiled and shrugged a little apologetically, suddenly looking more like an indulgent father than a grooving star.

"At four, my son has a studio-recorded song. The new generation is coming," said Singh.


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