All his life, his prime focus has been Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiyat. One can hear it in the melody of his songs, in the rooted themes of his films, in the electric energy on his shows. “I am committed to Punjabi,” says Harbhajan Mann, never once giving in to the temptations of the tinsel town.
In Chandigarh, after doing live shows for the past four months across the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, Mann released his latest single Ikk Ikk Saah on Thursday (December 17). Already enjoying some serious viral traction (over a lakh views in merely an hour), the song, produced with Unisys Infosolutions-Saga Music, has Mann for the first time collaborating with UK-based music director Tigerstyle. Penned by Preet Kanwal and shot in Canada by Sukh Sanghera, this one’s a classic Mann song, complete with soft, emotional tone and temper. “It is the age of singles. There is such a strong dip in the sale of CDs that the economics of producing and selling one doesn’t work any more,” says Mann.
A veteran now, Mann keeps his eye and ear trained on the entertainment scene in Punjab. And although he, quite charmingly, evades revealing current favourites and competition in the industry, he feels that he is still “very healthy and musically very strong”. “No one remains young forever, and I feel I am at the greatest point in my life. There is so much to do and look forward to.”
So, the first step is to take his music back to national music channels like Channel V and MTV. “My earlier tracks like Galaan Goriyan and Mirza were a hit because of the quality of music and videos. I’ve made sure Ikk Ikk Saah has that technical edge, superior quality of visual and sound so that channels like MTV and Channel V pick them up. That’s the real deal. Punjabi music is already popular in films, and I say why not put more independent good quality Punjabi tracks too.”
While 2015 has been a mixed bag for the Punjabi cinema, Mann is sure of one thing: the audiences are asking for more than just comedy. “Gadaar and Haani are examples that people want something different. My next, Saadey CM Saab, too, will be away from the typical comic capers we have.”
Directed by Vipin Parasher and written by Sumeet Singh Manchanda, Saadey CM Saab is a political satire and action film that will release early next year. “It’s a very big budget film, and for the first time we are releasing a Punjabi film dubbed in Hindi simultaneously for non-Punjabi speaking territories like south India,” says Mann, whose co-stars in the movie include Kashish Singh, Gurpreet Ghuggi and Rahul Singh.
“I’ve been in this country for 25 years, and never have I seen the youth so fed up with the political state and system of this country. I can see they want change and this film couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Mann for whom keeping abreast of politics and national events is important. “Even though no one talks about it, I feel that when the history of any nation is written, the entertainers should not be left out for their works shape a society too. We need to, therefore, encourage meaningful, culturally rich content.”
All set to release three more singles and third edition of the famous Satrangi Peengh album with his brother Gursewak, Mann also has two films, Mitran di Motor with Amitoj Maan and another one with Manmohan Singh, lined up.