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Of wine, man and music...

A teetotaller who sings of the charms of wine! A practising Sikh who attempts to mix the modern with the traditional. An upcoming singer who wants to be associated with some timeless songs, Arvinder Singh is all this and much more... .

HE IS a teetotaller singing about the joys of wine! A practising Sikh who does not get a haircut for religious reasons, yet he maintains a trendy look with a ponytail and all. He thinks that fusion is confusion, still comes up with mixes as they sell in the market. He is Arvinder Singh, the man who is all over satellite channels these days with his debut album "Paani Sharab Main."

Arvinder is not just a singer who has branched out after a brief training stint at a workshop. He started learning classical music since when he was eight. Pandit Devaki Nandan in Himachal Pradesh, Pandit Ram Narayan Sharma of Jaipur gharana, and Ustad Mahender Singh of Punjab gharana were all his gurus.

Recall "Sanjha Chulha" on Doordarshan? Arvinder had composed its music and sung its songs too. This was his first venture. Since then he has been associated with several notable songs, including "Tun Tun Ho Yara" from film "Dada", "Ma Ambe" in Aamir Khan's "Mela", "Chod Ke Na Jana" from "Maa Tujhe Salaam", and "Eid Mubarak" from "Tumko Na Bhool Payenge". This 35-year-old melody maker has more items in his kitty.

An admirer of Ghulam Ali, he has not had "a very good experience" in Bollywood. "I had sung "Shava Shava" song for `Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham' but Amitji - Amitabh Bachchan -- said that he wanted Sudesh Bhonsle to sing for him. Similarly in `Maa Tujhe Salaam' I sang the title song but later I got to know that its makers got Shankar Mahadevan dub it," he laments, feebly adding that being a beginner is all about trying to take it in his stride.

About the album he has interesting things to tell: "I composed the song 12 years ago and performed it at many places and received encouraging response. That emboldened me to make it into an album."

His hairstyle makes him look like a foreigner. "I am a practising Sikh. I do not drink but singing wine songs on stage wearing a white pagdi always made me feel guilty as the pagdi has a sanctity of its own so I gave up turban. Yet I never wanted a haircut for religious reasons. Once in Norway I found many Norwegians with long hair, performing. Here I got reason to look modern as well as fulfil my religious responsibility, hence this ponytail," and he ruffles his hair lovingly. You ask him about his academic life and he hesitatingly reveals, "I studied at a Himachal school but was more into music through which I would bring fame to the school. Till High School, the school authorities saved my academic years by giving grace marks but they gave up after that."

The father of two children, Arvinder has an aim to fulfil. "To sing something that touches the soul and not always those foot-tapping numbers which are transient in nature." To bring soul into his music, he rehearses for at least two hours a day.

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