Daler Mehndi Biography
“Daler Mehndi, as a musician, performer, and song-writer, continually re-invents himself and his art.”
The hallmark of the “Great musician’s” often lies in their ability to hone to perfection a strong and easily assimilated iconic, but singular image. It may evolve slowly and surely over the years but will always be presumed to be a natural maturing. Daler Mehndi, as a musician, performer and song – writer, defied this convention completely. He continually re-invented himself and his art at breakneck speed and illogical disjointedness. It seemed as though time was always at a premium. With complete disregard for the then prevalent – regional- Punjabi- music style loyalty or so called integrity, he combined the most unlikely forms of music with newfound subject matter sprinkled with his fetish for “RabRab” (God) words, rendered with versatile Power Pitched Vocals, performed with exquisite choreography and character, ornamented further with the signature self designed Maharaja Robes, Bejewelled Turban and Jewellery – a Style only befitting a Maharaja presenting the then unknown and unborn Indian Pop Industry with its first true Pop Icon. He deconstructs that which makes him singular, and then a new element arises to confound and entice the masses who think they have just figured out his latest incarnation. His USP is his Originality. Mehndi exemplifies the new aesthetic from his humble folkie yet celebrated beginnings from Bolo Ta Ra Ra to the glitter and glam of the rocking Balle Balle & Jalwa, to the pied piper rage of Tunak Tunak , to the elegance of Ru –Ba -Ru & humor of Zor Ka Jhatka, & the Guinness Book Entry track TUNAK TUNAK TUMBA at each twist and turn of his career, creating more than one myth to harken back to his creative visions.
In the beginning…
Daler Singh was born in Patna, Bihar on August 18th, 1967. He was born into a family of musicians who had been singing for seven generations. His early influences on music are his parents, who taught him the ragas and Shabad’s from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. At age 11 inspired by the Patiala Gharana style of Indian Classical Music, he ran away from home in search of the Late Ustad Raahat Ali Khan Sahib of Gorakhpur for lessons. Gave his first stage performance in front of an audience of 20,000 at the age of 13 in Jaunpur where his parents found him standing center-stage, his shoulders overflowing with garlands of flowers, sandalwood and money. Classical music of the great Indian Maestros heard on radio, concerts and cassettes of the legendary Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Nazakat Ali- Salamat Ali, Mehdi Hasan, Parvaiz Mehdi, Chote Ghulam Ali Khan and the Illahi Kirtan Durbars attended all over India provided him with an introduction into the world of gurmat sangeet, thumri, khayal, ghazal.
By 1991, he formed his own group comprising of his brother’s, cousins and musician friends. Daler performed at the Who’s Who and within a year was a must have at each socialite’s do. The legendary Impressario the Late A.J Jaspal of IPCA who gave Daler a Professional set up promoted Daler “as the Golden Goose to watch out for.” In 1994, A J Jaspal sent Daler to compete at the prestigious annual Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest at Azia Dynasys in ALMATY, Kazakhstan. Daler Mehndi representing India was judged 2nd amongst 200 contestants from world over by 20,000 strong audience. He was quoted by the judges as the ‘MOST ORIGINAL SOUND FOUND IN 3 DECADES’. That was the first time Bhangra Music was acknowledged outside Punjab (a Northern State of India) and firmly plastered its presence on the global scenario. Daler Mehndi saw himself at an International setting amidst an alien audience craving for more and critics lapping him with accolades and praises which provided him with an introduction to the showy world of Pop and mod, and by 1995 he was Daler Mehndi, with long flowing robes, bejeweled turban and aspirations of stardom rustling about his head. Mr. Shashi Gopal of Magnasound signed him immediately for a 3 Album Contract for 3 years.
HISTORY created by Mehndi…
Success followed Daler without doubt and Indian Pop was never the same since his advent into it. He was majorly responsible for the elevation of the Indian Pop Music through the Super Success of all his albums. His innovative, inimitable and imaginative style of music was responsible for the elevation of Pop Music to a degree of respectability that it commands today. The inspiring and refreshing mix of the classically seeming traditional music fused with the funky beats of the new age proved to be a potent mixture.
“BOLO TA RA RA”, Mehndi’s celebrated debut album recorded as an entity in itself, marks the first definitive creative stretch for the listener. Daler’s fusion of rustic lyrics, seemingly easy sing along tunes, fused with just the right element of western instrumentation are often referred to as the birth point of Bhangra Pop, and certainly the auspicious beginnings of glam – Global Bhangra Pop can be traced back here.
BOLO TA RA RA changed the perception of the Music Industry by selling over 20 million copies. The album that was targeted at the regional audience of Punjab sold a record 2.5 Lakh units in Kerela alone within 25 days of its release. DALER MEHNDI became the SOUND OF THE NATION. The album not only established Daler as a POP STAR but also laid the foundation for Bhangra pop to emerge at what it is today. Bolo Ta Ra Ra won him the Channel V’s Best Indian Male Pop Artist Award. A year later, his second album under Magnasound “DARDI RAB RAB” further created stir in the nation and shut up his critics who had called him a 1 Album success. This Album superseded the sales of Bolo Ta Ra Ra. Again this year he was nominated in 3 different categories and won the prestigious Channel V Best Indian Male Artist Award.
In 1997 with his third album “BALLE BALLE” he created a HATRICK OF SUPERHITS and was christened “DOLLAR MEHNDI” by the media. This album got him Channel V Awards in 6 different categories. Magnasound and the Country declared him “SUPERLATIVE”. There was more to come; With titles like “The Turbaned Tornado”, the “Sultan of Swing” conferred on him by the International press, Daler was set to take Bollywood by storm and gave the Indian Film Industry with an anthem “NA NA NA RE” for the film “Mrityudata”. Composer, performer Daler Mehndi featured on the Big Screen with the legendary Mr. Amitabh Bachan. Daler had the Music Industry gripped in Mehndi Mania. It was also the year when India celebrated its 50 years of Independence, with “50-50 PHATTE CHAK DEYANGE”, Daler paid his tribute to the country by rendering a truly befitting track.
Again in 1998, The “Badshah of Bhangra” gave yet another hit the next year, titled “TUNAK TUNAK”. It became famous as the pied piper track and its music video which was conceptualized by Mehndi in retaliation to the media’s comment that the success of his videos depend only on the glam models featured in the videos, with 4 Daler Mehndi’s and exquisite choreography done by himself the song and the video became an instant HIT, such was the craze of the song that people across the globe are being enchanted by him to this day. –for India it was the first ever music video using the Blue Screen technology. Tunak Tunak won the prestigious RAPA Award, the Channel V Award, The Videocon Award, The Screen Award. Such was the craze of Daler that almost every movie, T.V serial or commercial started emulating him as a person or his style or his songs and tunes to copy the success he was relishing. Right from dressing like Daler, singing in Punjabi and greeting with Balle Balle became a trend. Even during the election campaign, various political parties ran their campaigns on tunes of his hits to capture the attention of common man.1998 was certainly the year that Mehndi began to get a glimpse of the power of the pop. The superhit POP track is famously revered by the Classical musicians of India and Pakistan especially for the intro of the song sung by Daler firmly showcasing his classical prowess.
1998 Daler launched the “DALER MEHNDI GREEN DRIVE” and within a span of 3 years planted 6Lakh saplings in New Delhi. DM Green Drive was inducted in the Special Task Force of the Delhi Govt.
The same year he was signed up for another movie “Khauff” featuring the Bollywood siren Raveena Tondon. The song composed by Daler “ANKH LADTI HAI” became a rage at the clubs and Daler’s dream to have the prodigal Asha Bhosle sing one of his compositions came true. Daler and Asha Bhosle duet further embossed his supremacy in music.
1998 was an eventful year of his career, not only was Daler topping all the music charts which was now a routine for all his albums since his debut Bolo Ta RA Ra days, Daler Mehndi had become a Brand. He was by now the most expensive Artist and performer. He was signed by Coca Cola to counter Pepsi’s Bollywood Brigade for a whooping record deal, which made History. Daler Mehndi was Coca Cola’s Brand Ambassador and the Jingle sung buy Daler for Coke with the signature Daler Mehndi choreography became a rage. Daler was taken for a 30 city Tour of India with each city having more than 50 thousand to a Lakh of Audience creating hysteria. The same year Daler dropped another bombastic track “KUDIYAN SHEHR DIYAN” for the film titled “ARJUN PANDIT” featuring the chirpy Juhi Chawla. The song is still a must play at all weddings, and clubs and the chart busters were enough to help the producers have their cash registers running.
Daler’s musical journey was creating waves through his Tour’s abroad. USA tasted the Mehndi Mania during the Blast 98 Tour. The Press was dizzy with his energetic performances. One journalist mesmerized with the Bhangra King’s performance went to the extent of writing on record “HE IS ALL THAT… HE IS BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES” (Home News Tribune). Post the Singapore concert; one journalist went onto write, “If Daler’s legs found a lawyer they would sue his pants off them. That’s the way Daler jigs around so frantically that it is almost infectious, like a ballerina on steroids.”
Daler Mehndi Concert Tours in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Europe, UAE, South Africa, East Africa, Oman, Bahrain, Malaysia, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Singapore, West Indies, Belgium, Holland to name a few have had crowds swooning to his music and dancing away to glory as one fan fondly describes his music “the stairway to Heaven”. Such is the persona of the man that when he is performing live before a cheering mob, none can resist exercising their sweat glands with him. On stage he is electricity personified. The press quoted his Malaysian concert as “Bigger than that of Michael Jackson’s”
Daler apart from weaving his musical magic had set another rage that of his costumes.
From Bollywood Actors, to kids, grown ups, to foreigners all were aping his signature long flowing robes, he was also responsible for adding glamour to the Sikh “Turban”, he made ‘colorful turbans, a trend. In 1999, he received the Elle Style Award for the Most Stylish Music Artiste.
The Millennium had Daler Mehndi jiving with his young fans dressed like him in the Delirious “EK DANA” album. Mehndi’s magic worked but this was also the year Daler paid the price for his meteoric rise. Courting controversies, the Album outsold its predecessors and is to this date his highest selling album on the net. Daler’s world tour with the then reinging Bollywood Actress Karishma Kapoor in 2000 was bigger than his Past tours. The breakneck speed at which he was garnering success and fame was exhilarating .
2001 Daler signed with Universal Music. Ever experimenting Daler gave India a new rocking track “KAALA KAUWA KAAT KHAYEGA”. The Album “Nabi Buba” had Arabic influences. Daler’s musical wanderings were evident with the varied flavors from across the world, aesthetically and soulfully entwined with his rustic nuances of Indian folk music. 2002 with “Nach Ni Shaam Kaure” Daler seemed reticent.
2003 Daler forayed into playback singing for Films. He started with the famous and soulful Ru- Ba- Ru for the critically acclaimed “Maqbool”, Vishal (Film and `Music Director of Maqbool) and the legendary Gulzar were mesmerized by Daler’s rendition of their song. The same year Daler and A.R Rahman finally came together to give a rocking track “Nach Lae” for Lakeer (Directorial Debut of the ace Choreographer Ahmed Khan)
He fused Rock with Bhangra with his next album- under his own Label “D RECORDS” titled “Mojaan Laen Do” and then 2004 was a year when a much needed freshness came into the stagnant music industry with the self produced superhit “SHAA RA RA”. The same year he was featured in the coveted international TIME MAGAZINE- the only Indian singer to have been featured in the magazine.
2011 – Daler Mehndi’s TUMBA features over 80 percussions and enters into the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS.
Daler Mehndi’s Tumba nominated into the Guinness Book of World Records for the use of maximum Rhythm instruments and tracks in one song, set within a rhythmic framework of over 80 percussions.
- Winner of the Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest at Almaty, Kazakhstan in 1994
- Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award from the International Economic Forum 1996
- Channel V’s Best Male Pop Singer Award 1996 – Bolo Ta Ra Ra Ra
- Channel V’s Best Male Pop Singer Award 1997 – Dardi Rab Rab
- Channel V’s Best Male Pop Singer Award 1998 – Ho Jayegi Bale Bale
- Best Indian Male Artiste
- Best Live Performer
- Best Music Composer
- Biggest Selling Album of the Year
- Best Indian Album
- Best Compilation Album
- Channel V’s best Male Pop Singer Award for Tunak Tunak Tun
- The prestigious RAPA Awards (Radio & TV Advertising Practioners’ Association of India Ltd.
- Aviation Award from IBIS Aviation Ltd. Mombassa, Kenya
- Screen Videocon Award for best Male Pop Singer 1997 – Ho Jayegi Balle Balle
- Screen Videocon Award for best Male Pop Singer 1998 for Tunak Tunak Tun
- The Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award 1998
- The Elle Style Award 1999 for the most stylish music artiste
- Punjab Ratna Award in 1998
- Central Revenue Board Award 1999
- Millenium Sikh Award 2000
- Zee Cine Award – Na Na Na Na Na Re from Film Mrityudaata
- The Pride of India Award 2002
- Nominated for MTV Awards in 2003 for Mojaan Lean Do
- Nominated for MTV Awards in 2004 for Shaa Ra Ra
- Kalakar Ratna Award 2005 for the super success of Shaa Ra Ra
- Daler Mehndi was honored by Handing over the Key of the City of Orlando by the Governor of Orlando, USA for the super successful Shaa Ra Ra Ra Tour 2004 (USA & Canada)
- Award Conferred on him by the National Human Rights Commission in 2005
- First Indian Pop Artist Featured in the prestigious International Time Asia Magazine
- Daler Mehndi Honored with Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award