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Posted at: Feb 15, 2018, 1:57 AM; last updated: Feb 15, 2018, 1:57 AM (IST)

Looking at positive side of things is my nature: Sartaaj

Looking at positive side of things is my nature: Sartaaj
Satinder Sartaaj addresses the media in Jalandhar on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Malkiat Singh

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 14

In Punjab, after Gurdas Maan, if an artiste of the Punjabi music industry is substantially credited with veering away from the – guns and daggers – discourse of the Punjabi pop music scene and talking of the land and spirit of the historic land – it is Satinder Sartaaj.

On the one hand, his envisioned-in-five-minute look as a Warish Shah – with turban and open hair – (which he borrowed from a newspaper clipping in his hostel room) in his maiden Punjabi album, left us with a lasting vision of a singer, who not just looked like the Sufis but sung of them, evoking the buried Punjabi ethos.

On the other hand, his last year outing as the subdued, Victorian-mannered Maharaja Duleep Singh in the biopic ‘The Black Prince’ brought us the other side of him – Sartaaj the actor and the crossover Punjabi artiste who could juggle the best of the both worlds.

Regaling audience at the CT Group of Institutions with choicest songs from his newest Punjabi outing – ‘Seasons of Sartaj — Mohabbat de Mausam’ – Sartaj spoke on life after ‘The Black Prince’ and his hopes at the Sufi strains straying alive in the present music scenario.

Speaking on why he thought the ‘bandook and dunali’ discourse continues to rule the music discourse in Punjab, he said: “We as Punjabis being a border state have been bred on tales of warriors. These tales are in our blood and, hence, naturally they make way to our songs. We have always had to struggle. Like they say – dushman seh na sake oh vaar Punjabi hai. But the same land also has poignant tales of love. These too are Punjabi. Somewhere we have been diosconnected with that old ethos of poetry. Which we call ‘ishq haqiqi’ – we don’t try to feel it. Unfortunately this can’t be forced onto people. Having been a teacher, if I try to lecture students about it or ask them to read about it – they will say our parents say the same.”

“So we have to think slightly – more minutely. Have to work on their psychological aspects. Something has to be done to make them willingly lap up those values from that older school of thought, he said.

Speaking whether the Punajbi industry worries or inspired him, he said, “Neither. It is in my nature to look at the positive side of things. I’m never looking at the dark side. I never saw Punjab as bad or sad for me its the same happy state - Hasda Vasda Punjab. Our men and women are the prettiest. The only thing I would like to change is bring in more humility. We have to learn to be humble. Only if we change our basic attitude about it, we shall achieve that. This change in itself would change our instinctual leanings towards music as well.”

“As far as Sufi shift is concerned, many want to do something and do different songs but they often suppress the instinct thinking whether it would sell. People in the state also need to respond accordingly so that singers and artistes feel encouraged to do those kind of songs.”

Speaking on Valentine’s Day, he said: “Some would ask why are we holding this event on Valentine’s Day, its not in our culture. But I say now, we are a global village. People are preferring more English. Cultural exchange is common. But along with it if you don’t take your own culture like Rasool Hamzatov did, then it won’t work. For instance, my film ‘The Black Prince’ aroused people’s curiosity. When I went to Cannes, they were curious, because they saw the turban for the first time. We adapt, but along with our culture.

Speaking about his transformation after ‘The Black Prince’, he says, “Now my expressions in videos have changed. I’m more expressive. ‘The Black Prince’ took away five years of mine. Now, we are touring India. This is my first Indian tour and I am back to be doing music. I am most comfortable on stage.”

When asked does he think nationally the Sikh identity is more accepted today after him and Diljit Dosanjh garnering popularity in mainstream cinema, he said: “It started when Dr Manmohan Singh became the PM. It has certainly increased – while there have been scenarios when Sikhs have had to clear their identity. But now nationally we are in a good place. Diljit is a great friend. We know each other since 99. Im very happy for him as well.

When he was asked does he ever want to do a character like Warish Shah, he said Waris is a character which is naturally correlated with the land of Punjab. During the making of a documentary film ‘Sajda’ I was asked me to sing Warish in two places in it. They asked what attire will you take? I had a picture of Waris Shah in my hostel room in those days. It might still be lying with me somewhere. I dressed up fashioned on that. I was already wearing salwar kameez – and I wore a turban with my tresses open. The attire stuck to me. As far as playing or singing like them is concerned, no one can match what they did. It is important that we do something new, seeking inspiration from them.

He said: “I want to do films which are timeless. Like my 10-year-old songs that are contextually viable today. I don’t want to go as per trends but to make trend less fare which is viable always. I am listening to many scripts.” He will be touring across the country for the Seasons of Sartaj Concert for which he will hold shows across the country and the overseas. He began his tour from the city today.

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