The story of noted Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans is one of those which can be termed as a ‘rags to riches’ journey of a simple village man who fought all odds to become an uncrowned Sufi singer. His story has now been penned into a biography called ‘Rags to Ragas…and Beyond’ by UK-based writer and radio presenter Preet Inder Dhillon, who grew up in a neighbouring village of Shaffipur village (eight kilometres from Jalandhar), where the singer hails from.
“My village Gill is just next to Shaffipur and I grew up watching him walk the streets like a ‘mast malang’ (carefree) person humming soulful melodies,” says Preet.
Talking about what inspired her to write the book, she says, “For years, as a young girl on my way to school, I crossed the house of this ‘mystery man’ and discovered there was something extremely orphic, deep and mystical about him. At times I saw him sitting crooning under the shade of a tree. At other times, I saw him dressed in a green robe as a mendicant monk walking about lost in his own world - he seemed personally withdrawn and emotionally aloof. Every time I saw him, I would ask my father about him, his life and family. As time passed by, I saw him rising in his career and started following his music. So two years back, I got this idea of writing his biography.”
Preet, who is also a radio presenter based out of Toronto, shares that unlike others she holds a very different perspective of Hans Raj Hans and so the book is more about the impact the singer had on her, making it different from how an author writes a regular book.
She says, “I wanted to unveil various aspects of his life and personality through this book and, thus, I have divided it into two sections - one that highlights his musical journey and the other that talks about his spiritual and political side as well as his family background.”
Preet calls Hans an ‘uncrowned Sufi singer’ because she feels that his contribution to the genre is not well-accepted in the music industry but the book will provide an insight into his deep knowledge of Sufism. For this, the author spent a lot of time with the singer and his family. Hans Raj Hans also flew to the UK and stayed with her for a week to relate many unkown facts of his life.