Harbhajan Mann—Riding the Ladder

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After gaining popularity as a versatile singer, Harbhajan Mann is  now dominating the Punjabi film industry.

When the  ‘Galan Gorian De Wich Toye’ fame singer Harbhajan Mann was featured in the Punjabi film ‘Jee Aayan Nu’ in 2002, the audience went berserk and the man with a syrupy voice became the talk of the town. Whether it was singing, dance videos or acting, component of his performance netted him equal appreciation.

The release of ‘Jee Ayya Nu’ was also a trend charger  in Punjabi  film industry. The process continued and one after another Harbhajan Mann gave many other  hit films including Asa Nu Maan Watna Da, Dil Apna Punjabi, Mitti Wajan Mardi and Haani.

Harbhajan Mann was recently in Sydney for the promotion of his upcoming Punjabi film Gaddar-The Traitor, which is scheduled for release in May.

He spoke to Shveata Chandel Singh from Public Telegraph about his musical journey, his association with film industry and much more…

Coming from a Jatt-Sikh family based in village- ‘Khemuana’, (Bathinda), Harhbajjan Mann’s journey as a singer wasn’t easy but nothing could stop him from chasing his dreams either.

Mann took to singing over three decades back, in 1980’s while attending high school in Canada but it was only after his return to Punjab in 1990’s he rose to fame.

Mann’s mentor and launcher was Karnail Singh Paras – a very famous folk singer but when he moved to Canada he got training under Sheikh Hamid Sahib in classical singing.

“Singing has always been a passion for me. From the very childhood I loved to sing but during those days singing wasn’t considered  a noble profession. So, after moving to Canada, I along my friends formed a band named ‘Nimana’ and did some local shows. During the shows I realized that the market for the Punjabi music was not that big in Canada and  I started looking for other opportunities.”

“Soon after,  some of the performers from India were in Vancouver to perform and that time I met Charanjit Ahuja, one of the biggest music directors of Punjab. He invited me to visit India to record an album under his direction. I started visiting India frequently in 1990’s and it was in 1992 that my  Album Chithiye Nee Chithiye was released and this track became a regional success.”

Talking about his singing career Mann said, “I think I was destined for music. After the success of my first album, I decided that if I have to pursue my career in singing. For that I needed to go to India. No sooner I returned back, I started getting offers, cultural shows , private shows, albums. It was work, work and work—for  20-25 days a  month.”

However, the breakthrough came in 1999 when MTV and T-Series gave him a much needed break by providing all necessary assistance to  his album Oye Hoye . He shot video as well for that album.  Soon his Punjabi-pop style attracted audiences from all over India. That was precisely the time when he started signing roles as a playback singer.

“After the success of the album, I shot videos for 10-15 songs and got an opportunity to work with the best cinematographers, choreographers. Soon after the release of my music videos, I got few offers to work in movies which I accepted”, adds Mann .

Mann has immense love for the music of yesteryears.  Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar are among his favorites. He still feels nostalgic while hearing “Yeh Mera Prem Patar Padh Kar’. From his own compositions , Mann’s duet with  Sunidhi Chouhan Yarra O dildaara’ from the movie Assa Nu Mann Watana Da is  one of his favorites.

Instrumental in heralding a new beginning of Punjabi cinema, Harbhajan Mann  is going strong a decade later.

Talking about his acting career, Harbhajan Mann said, “Cinema is one of the most powerful mediums of portrayal as well as change. Punjabi cinema has undergone many ups and downs and it was going through  real tough times when I stepped in. Storyline of the films which I did was quite different from the routine. This was much appreciated by the public. There were many  NRI centric  films, a subject which always attracts the attention of the people in Punjab and different aspects of living abroad were highlighted in those films.”

Mann is soon coming up in ‘Gaddar-the Traitor’ by Amtoj Mann which is scheduled  for release in May. It is Harbhajan’s  second movie with Amtoj Mann , previously they came together  in Hanni which  was much appreciated by the audience . The producers are confident and expect same response for ‘Gaddar- The Traitor’ as well.

Regarding his upcoming movie ‘Gaddar –The Traitor’, Mann said, “This is my second movie with Amtoj Mann and working with him is always a great experience. The beauty of working with Amtoj Mann is that he is an actor and a  director , so he gives attention to every minor detail of the film. He is a perfectionist. He makes sure that the body language should  be very realistic and close to the character. We are sure that ‘Gaddar- The Traitor’ will change the audience opinion about Punjabi cinema.”

The film will be released in theaters by Seven Colours Friends India Entertainment.

Contrary  to his image of a lovable-sensible guy,  Mann will be seen in a new avatar, playing a dashing billionaire whose life is about to be turned upside down.

Presently Mann is working on two more film projects. His film CM Sahib -a film based on Indian politics  is scheduled for release in September –October while ‘Motor Mitraan Di’, a  comedy drama will be released in 2016.



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