Melodies and mayhem

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Ahead of his October concert in Australia, Mika Singh speaks to The Indian Sun on what makes brand Mika and why he considers himself ‘super mental and a super singer’

He’s the king of Punjabi pop, but he’s also the prince of controversy. Mika Singh, now almost 40, is a chart-topping singer, mind-numbing performer and astute businessman. Off-stage, well, the controversies just never seem to die down. But Mika being Mika strides his fame and infamy in typical bhangra style—with an unabashed mix of fun, fierceness, and a whole lot of bling.

The singer, who is set to land in Australia for a concert at the Bollywood Dance & Music Festival 2016, on 16 October, organised by Festivals of South Asia Inc and Sizzlin Events, talks to The Indian Sun about his song and dance and storm routine.

Mika was born in Durgapur, but brought up in Patiala, the youngest of six brothers, all of them into music. His father was a farmer by profession, a classical singer by passion. Mika had always dreamt of being a “music director” and learned to play the guitar, tabla and drums in his quest to fulfil his dream. “My oldest brother had moved to the US and become a taxi driver,” says Mika, as did his other famous sibling Daler Mehendi. “Dalerji, who is nine years older than me, also moved there and started driving the Khalsa cabs that we owned,” says Mika, but adds that Daler—the first of the firebrand artistes in the family—decided to return to India in 1991 to become a singer.

“I also moved to Delhi with him. I was just 15 and got a band together for Dalerji by teaching them instruments, with Daler as the lead singer,” says Mika, recalling how in 1995, ‘Bolo Ta Ra Ra Ra’ became a blockbuster hit, making Daler one of India’s first homegrown pop stars.

Mika then went on to compose ‘Dardi Rab Rab’ for Daler, which also became a hit. Then in 1998, one of Daler’s managers told Mika that he had it in him to be a big star himself. That’s when he composed one of his all-time hit Hindi numbers, the soulful ‘Saawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag’, as he “wanted to distinguish his work from Daler’s”.

That was the real turning point in his career, says Mika. “I felt that even though I was not a good singer, people had made me one. For three years, I did riyaaz for singing and I released ‘Gabru’ in 2001 that became a big thing within the Punjabi circuit,” says the singer-songwriter.

Bollywood was the next logical step, but Mika admits his friends warned him about trying to make a name there. “But I said, the day I come, I will hit a sixer, I won’t struggle because I am a born star. They thought I was mad,” says Mika, who went to Mumbai in 2006 just to prove his friends wrong.

“Someone told me Shah Rukh Khan owned a Prado. So I bought a Hummer. My friend Shaan, the singer, told me, ‘Are you mad? You have come in a Hummer and you think anyone is going to give you a song?”.

The plus point of the Hummer though, says Mika, was that “everyone came to know there is a Mika” and he began to land movie deals. Director Sanjay Gupta was the first to warm up to the brazen Punjabi pop-star and gave him the song Ae Ganpat happened.

On courting controversies—from allegedly kissing Bollywood actress Rakhi Sawant at his birthday bash in 2006 to slapping a doctor at an event in 2015—the singer says that controversies seem to follow him. “My biggest plus and minus is my attitude,” he says. “What can I do? I am very egotistical when it comes to my work. I am both super mental and a super singer,” he adds.

 

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