With some style

With some style

drama queen

With some style
When supply follows demand, it makes for good business. Taran Kaur Dhillon, better-known as Hard Kaur in the music circles, understands this only too well. “There is a huge demand for party songs.

My friends have been asking me about my next dance number,” says the Indo-British rapper, as she makes time for a telephonic interview, amidst the promotion frenzy of her latest Saregama single ‘Jhumka Gira Re’.

“It’s not a remix; it’s a brand new song. This one’s really different. Yeh jhumka club meingirahain (this earring has fallen in a night club),” quips the queen of hip-hop music, who debuted with the chartbuster ‘Ek Glassy’ a decade ago. From doing live shows across the globe to crooning for Bollywood movies and even acting in one, this songster has done it all. However, scratch beneath the peppiness and daredevilry that’s often associated with the woman who has carved a niche for herself in a predominantly male industry, and you’ll find a moving story of loss, abandonment, courage and determination.

Daring to be

In the 1984 Punjab riots, six-year-old Taran lost her father. The in-laws threw out the widow and her two young children. Unable to handle the pressure of being a single parent, Taran’s mother remarried and moved to the UK, hoping for a brighter future for the family. Sadly, it turned out to be an abusive marriage.

Growing up in a distressing environment and struggling to fit into a foreign culture — where she was laughed at for tying her hair in plaits — the young immigrant found solace in hip-hop music, introduced to her by the black girls at school. It turned out to be the lifeline that helped Taran find her voice. “I’m a fan of hip-hop. It lets you be you,” says the first female rapper of India, who loves to pen songs based on her life experiences.  

Her debut solo album ‘Supawoman’ gave audiences a peek into the struggles and strength that define the lady. In no time, Bollywood offers came pouring in, with hits like ‘Move Your Body’ (Johnny Gaddaar), ‘Bas Ek King’ (Singh Is Kinng), ‘Talli’ (Ugly Aur Pagli), ‘Move Your Body Now’ (Kismat Konnection) and ‘Lucky Boy’ (Bachna Ae Haseeno), making Hard Kaur — who by then had performed on stage with international icons like De La Soul and Justin Timberlake — a household name in India.
“The music scene in India is changing. People want fun, happy songs that they can dance to at weddings and parties,” explains the performer, as she shifts effortlessly from English to Hindi with Punjabi slang thrown in for good measure. The good news, Hard Kaur believes, is that more people are joining the industry and upping their game. “On the other hand, sometimes, they are trying too hard to impress, especially in the videos… There’s too much pressure, body shaming, and no semblance to reality,” she rues.

And what about sexist overtones in the current crop of Hinglish rap renditions? “He wants to buy you a car, and make you a queen for the night. What’s there not to like?” she retorts, before roaring with laughter. 

Never say never

In an industry that’s so obsessed with ‘image’, Hard Kaur is happy to be ‘different’. “I’ve gone from chubby to skinny to fab abs and all that... But I refuse to live under pressure. I’m gonna eat what I wanna eat, I am gonna live my way,” says the rapper, who doesn’t mind being called moti (fat) because her mother thinks she looks good.  

Mum’s the word for Hard Kaur and she draws inspiration from the unrelenting spirit of the woman who has always been willing to give life another chance. “I know I can do anything I want. I can go to France and learn to be a chef. You know, like Julia (from the movie Julie & Julia),” avers the self-confessed “big drama queen” known for her bindaas attitude and quirky styling and make-up.

Surprisingly, after winning accolades for her versatile acts on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 3, Hard Kaur has not cashed in on her popularity on reality TV. “I can’t do something like Bigg Boss! However, if the right offer comes along, why not? You see, I’m not an actor, but when Akshay paji asked me to do Patiala House, I agreed. It has to be something interesting and challenging for me,” she maintains. 
Like an opportunity to work with Sanjay Dutt? “Oh, yes! I’m Sanju baba’s biggest fan!” gushes the musician, before she drifts into la-la land, perhaps imagining the two of them grooving to some sizzling hip-hop number.