Punjabi Sufi artist Rabbi Shergill said he finds it challenging to navigate the digital era when views are increased “artificially” since he grew up in the bygone era of albums and CDs.
The Delhi-based singer, well known for the popular song “Bulla Ki Jaana Main Kaun” from his 2005 self-titled debut album, called the practise of artists buying views for their songs online a “sad” trend.
“I prefer to compare an album to a book. So if you were to compare me to a writer, would he be content if he had only published three books? He would like to write further novels. Another reason is that no one is interested in records, CDs, or books anymore. So the format I grew up with and tried to master is gone,” Shergill said in an interview with PTI.
“You discover a song with hundreds of millions of views but you are unfamiliar with the song or the singer. Therefore, music today has a lot of glitz and glamour. You can simply buy hits in Africa, Zanzibar, or Kazakhstan to artificially inflate your numbers. That really saddens me,” he said, adding that he has songs ready for “5–6 albums.”
The 50-year-old singer, who is also renowned for the albums “Avenji Ja Nahin” (2008) and “III” (2012), is of the opinion that although “fake numbers” could help certain performers get more money and concerts, they won't have any lasting cultural impact.
“Only if you write it from the bottom of your heart and mean it authentically will that happen. A genuine footprint may be left by an authentic object. But I don't believe people talk like that anymore in studios, according to Shergill, who called his music “bittersweet” poetry.
The singer-songwriter, whose record also includes the Hindi versions of the songs “Tere Bin” (from the film “Delhi Heights”), “Chhalla” (from the film “Jab Tak Hai Jaan”), and “Tu Mun Shudi” (from the film “Raanjhanaa”), feels that Punjabi music needs to include “real alternative voices” that are now on the outskirts.
“Punjabi songs are India's pop music… I am glad to be Punjabi and see how far we have progressed. Can we adopt this stance and expand at the same time? The music becomes smaller if we keep doing the same thing, and your cultural footprint gets less as well. You must thus take some daring chances, he said.
Shergill recently gave a performance at the first-ever Sacred Amritsar Festival.