'Bollywood is on the cards'

Soulful rendition

'Bollywood is on the cards'

The man who gave the world Bulla Ki Jaana in 2005 and kickstarted his career with that single hit was in the town recently for a performance.

Metrolife caught up with Rabbi Shergill — the true urban balladeer of Punjabi music — who knows the perfect recipe of combining sufiana with genres as varied as rock and the blues. After his debut album Rabbi in 2004 and the 2008 release of Avengi Ja Nahin, he finally got down to working on his third album Rabbi III, which was launched in May this year. Though his signature sound is still there, it feels more ‘pop’ than his earlier work.
However, the singer does not agree. “It’s more rock, I would say. But there are some disparate musical influences that are very clearly connected. I had a ball making it.
Besides, I think what you consider ‘pop’ music right now in India has quite a bit of rock in
it,” shares Rabbi. “Looking at the climate of the scene, the response to independent music is pretty much getting better,” he adds.

For the average music listener, his music captures the soul of Punjab. But he feels that he probably isn’t as much in touch with his Punjabi roots as people make him out to be. “I don’t know if I’m an exemplar of the rooted individual. I would imagine that I’m fairly compromised, like anybody else. I’m well at ease among Indians and my languages. But my musical language is not Indian at all,” he notes.

Though he is primarily an ‘independent’ artiste, he did try his hand at Bollywood as the music director and lyricist for the film ‘Delhii Heights’. Recently, he even gave playback singing a shot and sang the much appreciated song Challa for Yash Chopra’s upcoming film Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Interestingly, the song is composed by A R Rahman with lyrics by Gulzar. From the looks of it, one can expect to hear his voice in more Bollywood songs, though he refuses to reveal any details.

“Bollywood is on the cards. But I can’t speak about it without getting into trouble because I’ve been barred from doing so. Even in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, my contract stipulated that I don’t talk about it till its official release. That’s how everything in Bollywood works right now,” he says.

Everybody knows the story of how Rabbi fell in love with music after he went to a Bruce Springsteen concert while at school. Other than Springsteen, he also listens to a lot of other Western bands and artistes. “I can’t say who my influences are because that’s for listeners to certify. I can say what I listen to — Sting, ‘U2’, ‘Aerosmith’, ‘Led Zepellin’, ‘Meatloaf’ and Bob Dylan.”

What advice does he have for young songwriters? “Work harder and get good. Ultimately, it’s all about getting good,” he concludes.

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