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For a few Dalers more

Tunak Tunak tun
Daler Mehndi
Rs 65

Daler Mehndi is the most popular Punjabi bhangra-pop singer today. His strong voice, trained in Hindustani classical, keeps true to tone and is a rare virtue among Indian pop singers. Driven by market compulsions he often ends up singing unimaginative tunes set to suffocating rhythms.

This cassette features eight tracks. Most of them begin with beautiful classical raga sketches, either sung by Daler or played on an instrument. Teri Ishq de charka opens with a lovely sarangi alaap. But instead of being woven through out the whole song, the classical element fades away abruptly, leaving only loud, repetitive beats behind.

Dhol Mahiya is a soulful tune with Daler singing qawwali style improvisations. A sarangi adds to the effect.

Har pal tadapte hain is a slower tune, with a quiet beat, and Daler really makes his voice achieve great warmth. The orchestra is a bit in the Hindi film style, violins swinging into action all over the song. If it had not been for that, the song could have been a great ghazal, for Daler's singing is reflective of this genre. Sensitive, and very welcome. His talents are vastly thrown away on the loud clamour of bhangra-pop.

Jalwa and Tunak tunak tun are already familiar to Channel V and MTV faithfuls. In the Jalwa video, Daler plays hero to Lisa Ray. The stanzas are rather repetitive where Daler exerts his voice. The refrain Har taraf tera jalwa... has an attractive lilt, enhanced by the harmonies he has sung on parallel tracks.

Sun veh mahiya is a quieter song, and Daler's powerful voice is good at this boatman's tune. But the violins are indiscriminately used again, that too in a style unsuited for a boatman's song.

That apart, one of the bits is beautiful, in western classical style, with the flute and violins. This is very intelligently woven into the texture of the song and blends in most gracefully.

The samba style La la dum is breezy and pleasant. The cassette as a whole is a good listen for its nice mix of slow and soft numbers.

It gives us glimpses into the quieter, reflective music Daler is capable of.

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