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Passion, Pop, Punjabi pizzazz...

Punjabi pop is the latest rage among the young, and everybody wants to capitalise on the burgeoning market for this type of music. MADHUR TANKHA meets Shael Oswal, the popular young singer in love not only with his music but the Punjabi language too... .


IN AN era when singers and artistes are venturing into the money-making gamble called business, here is one young man coming from an established business household yet wanting to make a mark as a vocalist. In his early twenties, Shael Oswal could have easily followed in his father's footsteps, but he wanted to carve out a niche for himself in the music world. His rise on the music firmament became apparent after his launch of "Hasna Kamaal", with its foot tapping, peppy Punjabi flavour that is urban rather than rustic and is likely to attract teenagers and teenyboppers. Ensconced on the chaise longue at New Delhi's Le Meridian Hotel, Shael is brimming with optimism about the success of his latest album.

On his musical foundations, he says, "I started singing on my own. But it is not that I didn't receive any training. To enhance my talent I started riyaz from an early age and even now Manjit Singhji is imparting me training in Hindustani classical music."

Appearances are deceptive. More so in the case of Shael, whose demeanour as a happy go lucky character - who speaks garrulously with a smattering of Hindi, English and Punjabi - is misleading. From inside he is a committed professional, who doesn't give a miss to his gruelling schedule of riyaz.

Do you sing for your own oozing passion and obsession or is it something more, one asks him. Shael says, "Basically I come from a Punjabi family settled in Mumbai. Although my parents used to converse at times in Punjabi, I did a crash course in this beautiful language. I motivated myself to take up the gauntlet of becoming a popular singer."

Hasna Kamaal has been shot in a swanky, dancing ambience at one of the posh discotheques of Mumbai. Shael left no stone untampered to ensure that the best technical and instrumental team became a part of his troupe. The number is an amalgamation of Indo-Western beats that pull youngsters on to the dance floor.

After his years of riyaz and grounding Shael made his initial public appearance in 1999 with his first album, "Kahan Hai Tu". After the soulful, scintillating and high pitched, "Teri Kuch Yaadein" in November 2001 he mustered the courage and confidence to churn out a song that can be played not just in pubs but also at weddings, parties and of course in automobiles.

Surely Shael has a long way to go but he is hoping that his latest album will prove to be a fast track to success.

MADHUR TANKHA

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