Guru Randhawa — the name itself is unlikely to ring a bell, but his latest Punjabi single, Suit suit karda, will surely jolt your memory and take you to a foot-tapping and catchy awakening. The single, which released in June last year, has already accumulated 55 million views. While many are bonding over it on social media websites, the piece is already a club favourite and is finding regular airtime and now features in the upcoming film, Hindi Medium. While the single was shot at a farmhouse amid a wedding setting, one in the Irrfan and Saba Qamar starrer is shot in the bylanes of Tbilisi, Georgia and has Irrfan sporting a trench coat with a chic scarf, and grooving to the piece.
Randhawa, since then, has been catapulted to fame. He has now joined the big league where Honey Singh and Badshah reside. “I am thankful that the producers took my song. It was already a Punjabi hit. But with Irrfan sir in it, it’s going to be a big deal for me. I will now be paid better. That’s what a Bollywood stamp does for you,” says the 25-year-old. We meet Randhawa at the office of his publicist (he acquired one recently) in one of the hipster villages in Delhi. Sporting a ripped jeans, a white collared t-shirt, sun glasses and stiff gelled hair give you the idea that Randhawa is taking the traditional popstar route.
Guru was born as Gursharanjot Singh Randhawa in Punjab’s Nurpur, Dera Baba Nanak Tehsil in district Gurdaspur and never really had any significant interest in music. It was TV that got him hooked to music, specifically watching Gurdas Maan on New Year’s eve on Doordarshan. “There is no grand story behind my interest in music. Mujhe bas TV pe aana tha (I just wanted to be on TV). Babu Maan, Gurdas Maan from Punjab and Arif Lohar, Shehzad Roy and Abral-ul-Haq sahab from Pakistan — they heavily inspired me. TV used to be a big deal. Now I am on TV every day,” says Randhawa.
He began with small shows in Gurdaspur, and then began performing in Delhi, at small parties and functions. He would get around Rs 500 per show. For about seven-eight years he struggled. Things changed with the breakout song Patola, an urban funk piece in Punjabi. “I am a small town boy and have realised it’s important to struggle. Din dekhne zaroori hain,” says Randhawa, whose music was firmly rooted in the folk tradition of Punjab. “I try and carry forward that tradition. I am not a trained musician or singer. I decided to write my own songs. Just like people who are my inspiration did,” says Randhawa.
The success of Suit suit wasn’t something Randhawa expected. The past three years — the time in which Randhawa has become a name to be reckoned with on the Punjabi music circuit — have thrown up hits such as Khat, Yaar Mod Do, and established him as a musician. His music and videos steered clear of any double meanings or misogynistic lyrics, which are currently a staple of major Punjabi hit songs. “What’s the point of creating something which cannot be enjoyed by everyone anywhere? I don’t want to embarrass a family which is sitting together and watching videos of my songs,” he says.
The time has also been a bit of a blur. So much so, that he just remembers checking into hotels and packing his suitcases. He has been performing nonstop. He hasn’t even got his parents — who live in Gurdaspur — to watch his live shows. “They won’t enjoy my music at a live show. Also once I am on stage , I won’t be able to pay any special attention to them. When I go home, I play my songs on loop for them. They are happy,” says Randhawa, whose next project will take him to Los Angeles for the shoot. “I’ll have to see when the tickets are cheaper,” he rues.