nice photo .
shayad eh article tusi pehla par chuke hovo . http://www.screenindia.com/news/HIGH-5/4121/
he’s at a recording, you’re told by his bebe, when you zoom up to his 19th floor apartment. She offers you a choice of garam or thanda and shares with you her anxieties about a bandh call. Gurdas Maan arrives before the water melon sherbet does and informs you that he was just wrapping up a new song that will soon be included in his just-out album, Punjeeri. A folk song in which Heer chides Ranjha for sparking off a love that brings only lasting sorrow and an unconsummated passion. “What did I get from becoming your Heer?” she asks him sadly. “Tu bhi adhura, mein bhi adhuri.” MIDBANNER
A soulful number straight from the heart, Maan reveals that he had always wanted the song for this album but “for some reason it got sidelined”. With a little bit of coaxing he confides that the “reason” was music director Jaidev Kumar. “Jaidevji kept postponing the recording to a later date. I guess, he wasn’t too impressed initially,” Maan flashes a wry smile, adding without a trace of rancour. “Such things happen, taal meil ki baat hai.”
Despite Jaidev Kumar’s lack of enthusiasm, Maan continued to sing ‘Ke khatiya mein tere Heer banke...’ at concerts and the audience’s reaction to it always left him stupefied. “People who would be energetically dancing to my Bhangra songs would suddenly become very quiet. By the time the song ended there’d be pin-drop silence...A silence thick with emotion and followed by a standing ovation a few minutes later,” he marvels. When the same emotions greeted him at a recent Baisakhi show, Maan was convinced that the song needed to be recorded before anyone else copied it. “And when it was finally recorded even Jaidevji admitted that it was special,” he says with a satisfied smile. Very soon his wife, Manjeet will be scouting around Punjab for the perfect location to picturise it. “Since it is Heer’s song, the setting has to be authentic,” Maan points out.
Another new song will wend its way into the album too. ‘Yaar Punjabi, mera pyar Punjabi...’ brought in the New Year for Doordarshan in 2002. “I took a gamble singing the song on the national network before it had even been recorded but DD and I go back a long way and I can’t refuse them anything, not even one of my best songs,” Maan says emotionally.
For this Punjab da puttar, old friendships will always leave their mark on new assignments and this is reinforced by the fact that Punjeeri is dedicated to Tejpal, his long-time chauffeur who died in a horrific car accident around two years ago. The accident happened one afternoon when after a late night concert in Chandigarh, Maan decided to drop in on his sayiji. Soon Maan started feeling drowsy and warned Tejpal that though he was concentrating on his paath, he might soon nod off. “Sleep peacefully but make sure you have your seat belt fastened tight. Nothing’s going to happen to you. If anything has to happen, it will happen to me,” Tejpal assured him. The words proved prophetic...
Twenty minutes after setting out, the car smashed into a truck and upturned. Tejpal was killed on the spot. Maan was unconscious, bleeding profusely and still murmuring ‘Ram, Ram...’ It was that almost hypnotic, subconscious chant that alerted rescue workers that one of the men was still alive. When Maan was eventually hauled out he appeared to be in a daze. His cell phone had also not survived the smash up but an alert bystander managed to retrieve it and was smart enough to slip the SIM card into his mobile. The first call that came in was from Maan’s brother in Hong Kong who conveyed the news of the accident to Manjeet. Maan himself called his wife from the car a little later to inform her hat he was being rushed to Chandigarh hospital.
The memory of that fateful afternoon still brings tears into the couple’s eyes. Manjeet remembers that she arrived at the hospital to find Maan bloodied and talking incessantly. He’s a man of a few words normally and his non-stop chatter had her worried. Brain damage was suspected till a CT scan revealed that he had had a miraculous escape.
“Unfortunately, Tejpal was not to lucky,” Manjeet sighs. When she enquired about their driver, she was told that he had been moved to another hospital. “I never imagined that it was all over for the man who had been such an integral part of our lives and family for so many years. He had been in an accident before also and had escaped with an injured leg,” she mutters, disbelief still shadowing her face.
Maan however knew within minutes of gaining consciousness that his friend was gone. “Tejpal’s hand had fallen on my shoulder and when I checked I didn’t find a pulse,” he recalls. ‘Sawari...’ is a heart-broken tribute to Tejpal. A song of lingering pain that should appeal to all those who have lost a dear one in an accident. “I used the original track for this song which is punctuated with choked sobs,” Maan reveals emotionally.
The breaking of a heart is an image the album constantly evokes. ‘Yaar badneetiya...’ is a romantic number that also talks of despair and disappointment. In Maan’s poetic world love doesn’t always bring fulfillment as Heer discovers. Even marriage is not the idyll it’s made out to be because, as ‘Dhola re dhola...’ explains, because once the honeymoon is over many husbands take to the bottle and begin to beat their wives in the dark of many a whiskey-soaked night. The bottled up emotions of the hapless bride bursts out in the impassioned ‘Bebe joga...’ It’s a much-in-demand song at concerts abroad, especially in the UK where such domestic skirmishes are played out almost every night in many NRI households. “That’s the reason so many young girls identify with the song. And today, when you hear it playing it instantly alerts you to the marital problems of a couple. Not surprisingly, young husbands have grown to fear it. They know it’s not just another Bhangra beat to swing to,” Maan says with a mischievous glint.
Bhangra is the building block of Maan’s melodies but his use of western instruments and new rhythms gives traditional tracks like ‘Jagga...’ a distinctive touch. That and light sermonizing is the secret behind Maan’s long reign at the top.
A folksy fable with a moral is how you would describe ‘Veezay...’ for instance. The song talks of the young generation’s preoccupation with visas and get-rich-quick schemes. “These youngsters believe that if they can just get a ticket to foreign shores, it’ll put them on the road to easy money. What they don’t realise is that in the process they are alienating themselves from their mother...their motherland. And as bebe watches her children lose their values and culture, her eyes brim over but she can do little more than curse the veezey that lures them away,” Maan explains. Obviously, the many talk shows that he’s been a part of during tours abroad, have given him a hotline to the NRI population and its many problems. Punjeeri seeks to address some of them.
The title is symbolic of the high fives that characterises Punjab’s heritage... the five elements that make up nature, the five emotions that make up a human being, the five things that go into the making of the punjeeri, the five Pandavs, the five peers and the five takts...That Maan is a devout Sikh is evident in his knowledge and understanding of his religion. But he’s not an insular fanatic whose religious sentiments come in the way of his patriotism. ‘Allah walo, Ram walo...’ is an ironic commentary on the politics of communalism that has sparked off many a fight in the name of religion. “What we don’t realise is that when we shake the walls of lasting friendship the roof caves in too,” Maan points out philosophically. The song, he confesses, is a hit with his kids. “They tell me that we need songs like this today,” he smiles shyly.
Maan is a doting dad to his sons. He would have been just as adoring had he been gifted a daughter. “I would have wanted the tinkle of her anklets to remain with me forever,” he says with a dreamy smile. “I’d never want her to grow up...ever.” This whimsical thought breezed by one day when he was travelling, and in the three hours it took him to reach Delhi, he had scribbled three of the six antaras that make up one of his most cherished songs. “As I wrote, tears flowed unchecked, much to the surprise of the man sitting besides me who wondered what kind of a song I could be working on that would bring tears to my eyes. He was not a Punjabi but when I translated my thoughts to him, even he was profoundly moved and his eyes were shimmering too,” Maan flashbacks.
The song ends with the father’s realisation that though he would not want his daughter’s doli to leave his home ever, he knws he has to let her go one day because without her life is incomplete. “In her womb, duniya basi hai and for this reason alone the father has to put her in the doli. You never know when inspiration will strike, and when it does, a song is born,” Maan muses.
We’re on our way down by now. The elevator door opens and a little girl steps wheeling her bicycle. “Where’s the horn?” Maan asks her. “It still has to be fitted,” her mother smiles at him. The little one tweaks on the bike’s bars setting up a buzz and within seconds Maan’s fingers are snapping in tune with a new rhythm. As the child walks away, he smiles fondly, “Woh meri bachpan thi...”
‘Pind diyaan galiyan...’, the first song of Punjeeri, is full of memories of Maan’s own childhood spent in a small village, riding buffaloes, naked and innocent, through dusty by-lanes. Maan chose to film the song’s video in a little known gaon just furlongs away from the Pakistan border. “The little boys on their way to school, reminded me so much of my own boyhood that I decided to use them instead of more practised child artistes,” he informs.
Some of the older men too found their way into the video. “A lot of them are disabled, having lost their limbs when grazing cattles in fields where mines were once buried,” he sighs. For the village folk having Maan in their midst was like a dream come true and they all congregated around the star, camera and the crew. “No one stirred to feed the cows or even feed themselves that day. But tea was constantly brewed and lassi churned for my unit and me,” Maan recalls.
The video captures the camradarie of childhood and the nostalgia for a simple life. “Emotions that touch your heart and fill your eyes. Director Guddu Dhanoa’s wife told me her husband was crying after watching the video,” Maan informs.
The man certainly knows how to “connect” with the comman man, especially the man in Punjab. So why didn’t his Zindagi Khubsoorat Hai find any takers? “I guess, I’m not as popular with Hindi film viewers as I am with Punjabi movie buffs,” he says with refreshing candour. “Or may be it was because we moved away from the main track and got caught in sub-plots like the tragic love story in the Baluchi kabeela where a girl who dares to elope with the boy of a rival clan is mercilessly slaughtered by her kinsmen. A UN report on Pak talked about one such incident and I felt we needed to highlight it in my film. I’ve met handicapped children too during my concerts who have changed the course of my life. I sing from my heart and , my films also reflect what I feel for strongly. You can make a film you believe in but you can’t ensure that others believe in it too,” he murmurs.
Wife Manjeet, the film’s producer, insists that those who caught the film on TV loved it. “But the halls were empty,” Maan laughs. The debacle of their first Hindi film hasn’t disheartened the couple though. “At least it had a worldwide release and gave me a platform to reach out to many more people,” Maan avers. He and Manjeet are now planning two more films. One in Punjabi and the other may be in Hindi. “The announcements will be made soon,” Maan asserts. And meanwhile Punjeeri plays on...