Rabbi Shergill on his love for Batalvi & calling Sultan Bahu his Shakespeare

The artiste participated in a virtual session by Majha House

Rabbi Shergill on his love for Batalvi & calling Sultan Bahu his Shakespeare

Rabbi Shergill

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29

As an independent music artiste, Rabbi Shergill has made his own special place in the Indian music industry. Sharing his influences and his connection with the region, Shergill was in conversation with Prof SS Behal, professor and head, department of architecture, GNDU, in the last online session by Majha House.

I was shaken by Batalvi’s poetry and when he was sung by Jagjit Singh in Birha da Sultan, I thought that was a landmark album and confluence. Then, I visited the concerts of Bruce Springsteen and other rock stars. I also love the music of Abida Parveen and Bob Dylan. They all influenced me as their music was authentic and personal. So, my music bears the signs of all these disparate influences. For years, I also lived the life of a rock star, cutting my hair and all that. —  Rabbi Shergill, Music artiste

Prof Sarbjot Behl, who himself is an acclaimed poet, said Rabbi has used poetry as a vehicle to address contemporary issues.

Talking about his familial background, Rabbi said he hails from the Mishri Kalan in Ajnala. “Although my parents moved here from Multan post Partition and settled in Punjab, I consider myself belonging to Delhi. And as far as influence is concerned, my strongest and deepest influence is my father, Jagir Singh. He is saintly and perhaps that reflects in my own personality and music. My mother’s life is also a strong inspiration for me, as she started her life from scratch and achieved great literary heights,” Rabbi said.

Rabbi said he has four siblings and all are highly qualified. “Academia is very important in my family, so, after I completed my graduation, I was told to complete my MBA. Since I was deeply interested in music, I asked my father for a loan of Rs1,50,000, bought some instruments from Singapore and thus began my musical journey,” he shared.

Sharing about the disparate musical influences in his life, he said he was extremely proud of Indian and Punjabi culture. “I was shaken by Batalvi’s poetry and when he was sung by Jagjit Singh in Birha Tu Sultan, I thought that was a landmark album and confluence. Then, I visited the concerts of Bruce Springsteen and other rock stars. I also love the music of Abida Parveen and Bob Dylan. They all influenced me as their music was authentic and personal. So, my music bears the signs of all these disparate influences. For years, I also lived the life of a rock star, cutting my hair and all that,” he laughed. Continuing the thought, Rabbi said he has always had a deep connect with Shiv Kumar Batalvi and other contemporary poets. “I have moved on from Shiv now and am deeply moved by the poetry of Lal Singh ‘Dil’, Harbhajan Singh, and Harinder ‘Mehboob’ but Sultan Bahu (a Sufi mystic and poet in Mughal era) is my Shakespeare, to whom I return and return,” he admitted.

Talking about his political involvement, Rabbi said he has always supported the cause for Punjab and its ecology. “I am interested in asking questions and would love to start a discourse on ecology and its revival. I have visited the protesting farmers and stand by them firmly. But I would love to see all farmers unite about saving Punjab, as they have on these laws. But love and politics have always been a part of all Punjabis and they are a part of me even if it is not evidenced obviously in my songs,” he said.

He also regaled the audience by singing Batalvi’s ‘Rukh’ and ‘Unnees’ from ‘Jinhe naaz hai’ in his inimitable style.

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