UK-based Punjabi singer Malkit Singh, globally recognised for his legendary contribution to music and who gifted the music lovers the chart-busting ‘Tootak-tootak…’ and ‘Gur Nalo Ishq Mitha…’ is essentially a humble man who never forgets to thank God in all moments of success and happiness. “When I recorded my first album in ’86, it was an outcome of my love for music. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would reach where I am today. All has happened with the grace of God,” says the 49-year-old singer.
Singh, who created history in 2008 as the first Asian to be honoured by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London with the award of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, politely says that the honour means a lot to him. “It is a matter of immense pride for a Punjabi and an Indian to be recognised in an alien land. For somebody hailing from an obscure village Hussainpura (Jalandhar) to walk away with such a great honour in the UK, it is all the more special,” he says. “I fondly describe my journey as ‘Balle, Balle, Hussainpura to Buckhimgham!’” cheekily adds Singh, who shifted base to the UK in 1984.
One of his favourite places to perform is London’s prestigious nightclub Ministry of Sound. Having performed here a couple of times in the past, Malkit says the experience each time is memorable for him. “UK, besides many European countries, loves Punjabi music. They find Tumbi (a musical instrument) extremely intriguing – understanding it as a “Punjabi guitar’ – and go crazy on the foot-tappping Bhangra beats,” Malkit says. “They hardly understand the lyrics but our music is good enough for them to break into a jig,” adds Malkit who has performed in as many as 54 countries so far.
While Malkit continues to enthrall music lovers all over the globe, his heart lies in his homeland. “Every time I visit Punjab, it feels as if a part of me is still living here, quiet but breathing. I miss everything about the place – people, friends, culture, food, the very air…” he shares. “It is winter and I can’t have enough of makki ki roti,” he smilingly adds.
Malkit has always been vocal about his dislike for “violence, hatred and foul language” creeping into the lyrics of Punjabi songs these days. While talking to us, he mentioned the subject again, urging the youth to “sing the glory of our land and its culture” instead of succumbing to the sad trend. “I, on principle, have tried to creat music that one can sing and enjoy with family. If my achivement means something, the young singers should take my advise and compose music that brings joy and peace, and heal masses of the many tensions they have,” Malkit says.
Malkit was in Ludhiana for a short visit. In between, he also shot a video in Chandigarh, for an upcoming album “Nachne da shaunk” produced under the collaboration of several Punjabi singers. Malkit has sung the title song.