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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Daler Mehndi: Film music always has to work on a hit formula or has to follow a trend

Singer-songwriter Daler Mehndi feels that non-film music helps an artist experiment freely. That’s why, despite his many Bollywood hits, he wants to give listeners more of his independent music.

music Updated: Sep 02, 2018 12:20 IST
Samarth Goyal
Samarth Goyal
Hindustan Times
Singer-songwriter Daler Mehndi has a bank of 95 songs, which he will start releasing from December 2018.
Singer-songwriter Daler Mehndi has a bank of 95 songs, which he will start releasing from December 2018. (Photo: Shivam Saxena/HT)

Before making his debut as a Bollywood playback artist, singer-songwriter Daler Mehndi started off as an independent musician with the back-to-back hit singles Bolo Ta Ra Ra (1995) and Dardi Rab Rab (1996). Then came the song Na Na Na Na Na Re in the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Mrityudaata (1997), and Daler became a Bollywood regular. But two decades on, he retains the independent spirit that made him one of the pioneers of non-film music.

Read| Daler Mehndi on launching Priyanka Chopra, Ludacris’ Tunak Tunak cover

Despite the huge Bollywood hits to his name — songs in films ranging from Rang De Basanti (2005) and Singh is Kinng (2008) to Dangal (2016) and now Gold and Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi — Daler’s heart beats for indie music. He says, “Film music always has to work on a hit formula or has to follow a trend. So that way, being a musician, you cannot experiment much with the tunes, melodies. You have to compose a hit song, and you’re catering to a film script, so you don’t have that freedom of creativity.” This is why, he believes, independent music is regaining ground in the popular music culture.


“Today, the audience doesn’t want to listen to only hit [film] music,” says Daler. “They want to listen to different kinds of songs, and that’s why they’ve started listening to non-film music again. When you’re creating a film song, there are many other factors — for instance, the stars that the song is picturised on. Sometimes, a song becomes popular because of the stars in the song; there you don’t hear the complete contribution of a musician. In an independent song, the musician gives his everything, and when you listen to it, you want to listen to music,” he points out.

Read| I’m proud to be from Bihar: Daler Mehndi

The singer reveals that he has dozens of songs still to offer as an independent artist. “We have a bank of 95 songs as of now, and if everything goes well, we’ll be able to start releasing them one by one, from December [2018],” he tells us.  

However, while he loves creating independent music, Daler also enjoys his work in Bollywood, and says that he feels “humbled” and “lucky” that people from the film industry still ask him to sing for their films. And he’s a perfectionist when recording.


Daler says, “A lot of singers don’t like it when the director or the producer tells them to sing again, after they’ve already recorded. I’m not like that. I’ll give the makers as many takes as they want, until they’re happy with it. It’s their film, and you have to respect their expectations. That’s why people still come to me and they want me to sing in their films. It’s one of the most humbling things to know that despite so many great singers available in the industry, people still want me to sing. I’m lucky if nothing else, to be honest.”

Interact with the author on Twitter/@sammysamarth

First Published: Sep 02, 2018 12:20 IST

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