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    D J Dave''s Punjabi Rock N Roll Bhangra Album Releasing 16th Dec!

    [Interview by Aanjo P Chawla]
    Thursday, December 15, 2005
    In an Indiaglitz exlusive, AANJO PC meets up with D J Dave from Malaysia, whose Punjabi album ‘MARR GAYE OYE’ is being released by T Series in Mumbai on the 16th of December. A peek into the artiste and the man.
    You hear that a DJ Dave from Malaysia is in India to release his private album with the country’s biggest music label T Series, and you think – wow! A full blown firang Disc Jockey!
    And when you meet him, the conversation goes somewhat like this.
    “Hi I’m D J Dave.”
    “Hi. So you’re a DJ from Malaysia?”
    “No. I’m not a DJ… I’m just a singer,” he says in his easy, modest way.
    “Oh, OK. D J Dave. Dave? As in short for David?”
    “No no! It is actually short for Sukhdev.”
    ‘OK. And the D J?”
    “That’s the initials of my birth name – Dhammi Jagjit.”
    “Oh, so Dhammi Jagjit Sukhdev became D J Dave! How come?”
    “That happened when I became a performer. This – D J Dave – is my artiste name, my name as a performer, if you want to call it that! And this is how I am known in Malaysia.”
    Not just known, DJ Dave is really well known out there. What else would you expect from a man who’s got more than 35 hit music albums with songs sung in as many as five languages – English, Hindi, Malay, Cantonese and Punjabi. A man who’s been performing in Australia, Indonesia Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Rotterdam and more places than he can remember. A man who says he can perform live for 2 hours with only two hours’ notice to prepare for a concert! And this, coming from a man who, some thirty years ago, was working hard at the national post office of Malaysia, determined to become a post master one day! “Thank God I didn’t continue, or I would still be stamping stamps!” he grins. He isn’t doing that, because around 30 years ago, Destiny intervened.
    “I was asked by the national TV Station of Malaysia, RTM (Radio Television Malaysia) to sing a Hindi song at a function organized for a house that sheltered spastic children. And there, he sang Mohammad Rafi’s song from Suraj, ‘Chehre Pe Giri Zulfein, Kah Do To Hataa Doon Main… Gustaakhi Maaf!’. The song was so well received that he was overwhelmed. “But the turning point,” says Dave, “came when a young boy of about 14 years came up to me with crutches, and said, ‘Brother, this song is so beautiful, why don’t you sing it in the Malay language?!’ That night, I couldn’t sleep, thinking about what the lad had told me. And I thought, our Hindi songs have such wonderful tunes, they are so popular. So why not try to render the same songs on the same tune, in Malay? Nobody had done such a thing in Malaysia till then. That idea kept me awake all night. I thought, that kid’s suggestion – it is a sign! I really should do it! And next morning, I landed up at a Malaysian recording company called Life, and told them, ‘Audition me!’
    They did, and loved his singing. But they had a problem with his pronunciation of Malay. Go back and practice your Malay, they told Dave, and the young post-master-in-the-making promised to return soon.
    Dave went back to his post office and told all the 25-odd postmen working under him that henceforth, he would speak with them only in Malay. Anybody who spoke to him in English or any other language would pay a small fine, as would he, and that money would finance a weekend trip to the local pub for all.
    In six months, Dave presented himself at Life again. “‘You’re on!’, they told me,” says Dave. “‘Which four songs will you record?’” He chose two songs that were his own compositions, and two from Hindi films, all to be sung in Malay. The Hindi songs were the song from Suraj that started it all, and Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka from Hare Rama Hare Krishna.
    The first album was released, and overnight, it became a smash hit! “The song from Suraj was the Number One song for 13 weeks!” Dave remembers fondly. “And after those 13 weeks, one of my own compositions from the album became Number One.”
    The result of his success? The manager at Life, the recording company, lost his job! Because he had overlooked tying Dave up in a long term agreement, and quick as a flash, EMI moved in and signed him up for 3 years. And from then, for the next 20 years, Dave stayed with EMI, revising and renewing his contract once every three years. Over the years, Dave has released as many as 35 albums, and even today, his older albums are released and re-released, and he keeps raking in the royalty and adulation of fans all over the Asian subcontinent!
    In the process, Dave has revolutionized music in Malaysia by giving the local Indian and Malay people a huge inventory of great songs s from Hindi movies sung in Malay. And in 1992, he started his own label, called, simply, Dave’s. Incidentally, D J Dave also has another name, Irwan Shah Abdullah, which, along with D J Dave, is his popular name in Malaysia.
    And now, Dave is in Mumbai to launch his latest album, Mar Gaye Oye! -- a collection of Punjabi songs, consisting of 8 tracks, of which three feature Kavita Krishnamurthy with him, and the rest are solo songs.
    I ask him to describe the music in this album, and he says, “This is definitely different from the usual Punjabi songs you get to hear today. I didn’t want the music of Mar Gaye Oye to sound like the usual anglicized Punjabi rap that is sung with a frown, a snarl and a grimace! You sound like you’re not making music, you’re making war! I wanted to keep the music of Mar Gaye Oye foot tapping but also equally melodious.” So how does he describe Mar Gaye Oye? “Mar Gaye Oye is contemporary rock n roll kind of Bhangra, especially the title song, whose video is currently on air.”
    “I wanted non-Punjabis too to enjoy the music on this album, that’s why I avoided going in for ‘doongi’ (deep or difficult) Punjabi. The lyrics are simple and the tunes are excellent,” he says. And Dave should know, because when first the lyricist-music director duo of Arvinder-Jaspinder approached him with the idea of an album and around 40 songs for approval, Dave rejected all of them. But the persistent duo returned later, with another 20 songs. “This time, the songs were much better, and in fact, I selected 7 of them. Plus I added one more song that I had composed, and so Mar Gaye Oye has 8 songs.”
    He lists out some of his favorite songs from the album. “Mar Gaye Oye, the title track, is on top of my list,” he says. “It’s pure Rock N Roll Bhangra, with a catchy fast beat. It is a punchy dance number,” he says.
    He lists out some of his favorite songs from the album. “Mar Gaye Oye, the title track, is on top of my list,” he says. “It’s pure Rock N Roll Bhangra, with a catchy fast beat. It is a punchy dance number,” he says.
    Another favorite of Dave from Mar Gaye Oye is the duet with Kavita, ‘Yaadaan Teriyaan’ which he hums, and you can take my word for it – all the three songs were melodious. How they’re arranged and how they sound is something we’ll get to know once we hear the songs. Only day more – the 16th, at around 2 pm India time, in Mumbai, the album will be out. Till then, here’s wishing D J Dave all the best.

    Dhammi Jagjit Sukhdave sure has come a long way. Here’s hoping Mar Gaye Oye takes him even farther.
    Ps: As you must’ve read above, D J Dave got into music at the suggestion of a spastic Malaysian boy. It is heartening to know that till today, every year, he celebrates his own birthday (14th Feb) with spastic children in his home town, taking them all for a glorious evening out on town, giving them gifts and making sizeable donations to the homes that care for them. Dave believes that “children are the Future—we have to invest in them.” Dave also helps out the less fortunate whenever he can. Most recently, he raised around US$200000 to send blankets and warm clothes for children and the elderly in the earthquake-hit areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, vide his campaign, ‘Spread the Warmth’.

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