Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, November 7
Having made a big name for himself in the field of Punjabi music as a singer, music director, lyricist and even actor, Nirmal Sidhu, 59, is still a name to reckon with.
Best known for his song ‘mere dil da khidona’, Sidhu has made a mark in the world of music for over 40 years. He has whipped up a number of albums and even composed music for Punjabi ones like ‘charkha di kook’ and films like ‘Truck Driver’, ‘Purja Purja Kat Mare’ and ‘Lohri Di Raat’ and ‘Charda Suraj’. He also worked in the Bollywood from 2000 to 2002 and for over a decade has been composing music and performing in the UK.
The best part about his music is that the lyrics have always given a message. Anyone who sings his popular song ‘uda aeda’ can learn the 35-Akhar Mala of Punjabi. His song ‘vigdi aulad’ teaches a lesson to spoilt children and ‘maa peyo’, with its powerful videos, tries to inculcate family values. He has also written songs on drug addiction problems, unemployment and most recently produced a track ‘kisaani masle’.
Sidhu, who originally hails from Faridkot but has done most of his art in Jalandhar, recalls his initial days, “My father was engaged in agriculture work. Belonging to a religious, I was a professional pathi in a gurdwara since my childhood. As a pathi, I began touring Delhi, Rajasthan and Mumbai. I even started performing kirtan getting inspired from Bhai Kartar Singh Khalsa and served as dhadhi as well.”
It was his senior kirtan performer Naginder Singh Chahal who changed his life. “I gave up studying before the age of ten years and he told me that this won’t do any good in future. He inspired me to go to school again and I joined Pracheen Kala Kendra and did Visharad. I learnt classical singing with an aim to become a music teacher in a school or college,” he shares.
In 1980s, he went to Ludhiana, then a big market for Punjabi music. He began playing harmonium for all top singers, including Surinder Chhinda, Lal Chand and even Chamkeela. In 1988, his song ‘mere dil da khodona’ made him an overnight star. “Three years later, I came to Jalandhar and appeared for a radio gradation exam which I cleared. I even became an approved music director for the DD,” he tells. It was around this time that he recorded the first song for Master Saleem ‘charkhe di kook’ which again took the limelight.
Sidhu a proud father as his two sons have carried forward his legacy. Nav Sidhu and Robin Raj Sidhu are now settled in the UK. “The elder is a civil engineer by qualification but has established himself as a singer, composer and a writer. The younger one is a professional video director,” he reveals.
The second stage
Afterwards came the era of his music composition and lyrics writing for Punjabi movies. In 2000, he stepped into Bollywood coming up with a music album ‘sheeshe ka dil’ which had two Hindi and six Punjabi tracks. He even collaborated with Zee Music and singers like Jaspinder Narula. His track ‘daru teri mari’, too, became a hit. From 2007-16, Sidhu developed his set up in the UK. From working on tumbi and dholki, he inched towards Punjabi pop music which was the demand of the changing times. “I evolved and began working on drum, dhol and bass creating fusion music and doing some hip-hop. In four decades, the music industry has transformed completely. Had I not adapted myself, I would have been forgotten. Change is the biggest necessity. Whether I am in Jalandhar or Faridkot or UK, I still work and create at least one track a month. My most favourite track since my UK days has been ‘hurrrrr Punjabi’, followed by ‘sher Punjabi’ and ‘putt jattan de’. I also set up my label titled Hit Maker Recordz,” he says.