Gursharanjot Singh Randhawa, known to the world as Guru Randhawa, is not an easy person to get a hold of. And neither is he the most talkative. But when you’ve got over 21.3 million followers on Instagram — with every post averaging over eight lakh likes and over 3.54 million subscribers on YouTube — you can do whatever the hell you want, the world be damned. Born in Gurdaspur, Punjab, Randhawa had something that the 77,928 people of the district did not. As it usually does unless you’re born to famous and wealthy parents, Randhawa’s career as a musician began with small-time shows in his home district. He then graduated to performing at parties and functions in Delhi.
Officially, Randhawa hit the music circuit in 2012 with Same Girl, in collaboration with Sri Lankan-British singer-songwriter, Arjun Coomaraswamy. The song was a disaster for both the artistes. A year later, with some help from his brother Ramneek, Randhawa released his first single, Chhad Gayi, on YouTube. Over the course of the next year or so, he released multiple songs — Khali Bottlan, My Jugni, Modern Thumka, Billo On Fire, among others. None of them hit the mark. But, as they say, the Universe loves a stubborn soul. Through some stroke of luck, Randhawa met Bohemia, a Pakistani-American rapper who was already a star at the time. Bohemia saw something in the 24-year-old musician, and approached T-Series, the Indian music network which is the most subscribed YouTube channel in the world with 156 million users. Together, they released Patola and the rest, as they say, is history.
Randhawa followed up with Tu Meri Rani and Suit, the latter was his second collaboration with Coomaraswamy, who had given him his first break. This time around, the song was a blockbuster hit, and currently holds over 430 million views on YouTube — and counting. Randhawa has added to the success of numerous films through the sheer power of his urban-bhangrapop music, be it Hindi Medium, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Badhaai Ho, Saaho, or Street Dancer 3D. So far, the Hindi film industry has recreated six of Randhawa’s original compositions — Suit, Tu Meri Rani, Patola, High Rated Gabru, Outfit, and Lahore.
He’s caught the eye of Pitbull, but Pitbull appears to have gotten more coverage because of the sheer pull that Randhawa has. His fanbase loves him, and Bollywood apparently cannot do without him. Randhawa has kept himself busy during the lockdown. He released a shoe called The 751, which was later called out by Diet Sabya as being an alleged copy of a design by Giuseppe Zanotti, an Italian footwear and fashion designer. On the July 2 this year, the singer also made a shirtless debut on Instagram. Shot by Dabboo Ratnani in his signature style, Randhawa attributed his fit physique to his coach, and Guru Nanak. Since then, he has posted many fitness videos and pictures on the gram, and has acquired a new level of confidence.
In October, Randhawa released his latest song, Naach Meri Rani, featuring Bollywood’s go-to dancer, Nora Fatehi. While the concept was supposed to be new, the story is a quintessential love story in a music video — boy meets girl, and then aankhon hi aankhon mein moments take place, and before you know it, love blossoms. While the song itself isn’t as catchy as some other Randhawa classics, the music video has already garnered over 65 million views on YouTube. Try getting the hook out of your mind, though. We dare you. It’s impossible to dislike Randhawa’s music — even the staunchest Hans Zimmer and Nina Simone fans will inevitably groove to Patola after two shots of vodka. Randhawa is the very embodiment of ‘desi swag’, and he’s definitely not going anywhere.
What would you say is the turning point in your career?
It’s the love of the people. They kept listening to my music. First, it was one song, then the second, and then the third, and all of that added up to who I am today, and where I stand.
How was it collaborating with Pitbull on Slowly Slowly?
How did it come about? When artistes are working on projects, you naturally look up to artistes who’ve come before you, and whom you listen to. I used to listen to Pitbull, and eventually, I got the opportunity to collaborate with him. I went to Miami and created the song. and shot the video for it. I believe that some things are written in the stars, and this was also one of them.
You’ve had five music releases this year — how was it possible to make that happen during the pandemic?
Mask laga ke (laughs). Everything else was the same, but we wore a mask and shot the videos, and released them. It’s all about working hard and honestly, if you don’t go out at all, it is akin to stopping all the work you do. Dil pe patthar rakhke shoot kari.
Six songs of yours have been recreated in Bollywood films — how do you feel about that?
It’s a good thing. Independent artists get a bigger platform, and more opportunities. We also get to work with Bollywood superstars. The film performs better and the audience also enjoys it so it benefits everyone. As long as you’re recreating your own music, its fine, but I’m not exactly a fan of recreating someone else’s music.
Today, you are a household name, but how difficult was your journey when you started out?
I wouldn’t call it a difficult journey, but it has been a journey full of learning experiences, for sure. There are a lot of things that aren’t possible, but you have to go ahead and do them. So, I think that every day is a learning process. I believe that nothing is difficult, its just the way you live your life aur ussi mein barkat hoti hai.
What are these things that you don’t find possible?
Different stages of your life come with their own set of obstacles. If we talk about 2011-2012, there was the cost of making music videos. Then, if we talk about 2014-2015, there was the question of how to release one’s music. In 2016-2017, there was the question of breaking into Bollywood, and 2018- 2019 was all about collaborating on the global stage. Now, in 2019-2020, its all about when to wear a mask.
You are known as the King of Clubs because of your popular party numbers. How much of Guru Randhawa do we see in the songs you sing?
In my songs? What can you see in my songs?
Your songs are such popular party numbers and I’ve read that you’re not a party person…
Yes, that’s true, I don’t party a lot. I like sitting in one place. I’m sitting in one place as we speak.
Yes, so how much of Guru Randhawa can we see in your music?
In my videos, you’ll see Guru Randhawa and you’ll see Pitbull also. But yes, every song has its own mahaul, so to speak. Love songs are shot differently, and songs like Lahore have a different vibe altogether. Every song is shot according to its vibe, and I sing it in my own way and eventually, the end product is my song.
Does your personality transfer into your music?
Absolutely. And whatever little doesn’t get transferred is worked on by the directors, and they make it happen.
What do you think is the main difference between the music culture of the West, and here?
See, I made the song for my audience, so I didn’t see any difference in my song. But yes, there is a lot of difference between the songs we sing, and the music that comes out of the West. Unka dayra kuch khula hua dayra hai and they can talk about things and do certain things in their videos because there is greater acceptance there. In India, to an extent, we have to hold ourselves back a little but to answer your question, I didn’t see much difference in the song I worked on.
In the past few years, we are seeing musicians from Punjab climbing the ladder to success. What do you believe is the reason for that?
The reason for this is the love of the audience. That’s what I believe. It’s not a trend because trends will come and go, but the audience won’t change.
You are only 29 years old, and you have given so many successful songs. Do you fear that you might plateau in the future?
Yes, there is a fear that I don’t run off to Hollywood and create some hungama there. I fear that I’ll go to Hollywood, and become superhit there. What’s going to become of the people that are already there then?
Tell us about your fitness journey.
I’m actually eating a Samosa right now. I always wanted to be fit, but never got the time. During the lockdown, everyone was at home and to save myself from falling into the trap of inactivity, I joined a gym.
Has your diet changed?
Yes, absolutely. My diet has changed completely, and I only eat what my trainer asks me to eat.
In July, you performed live after almost three months. What was the difference, and what were the precautions you took?
The difference was that there were only 50 people in front of me, and I had to wear a mask, and didn’t let anyone come near me. I did whatever our government asked us to do.
What is your favourite song till date?
My own song? It hasn’t been released yet.
What’s your main source of inspiration?
Television. The people who come on television are great people. So, I watch TV, and look at these people, and think that even I want to become like them and do the things they do. I watch great people, listen to them, and I want to become like them.
Is there anyone specific you are inspired by?
The actor who plays Spider-Man?
No no, the character. The way he can fly anywhere, I also want to do that. He makes me feel like I can do anything. Bas, I just fear that these Hollywood wale don’t get frustrated with me in one or two years. I’m also learning US style English now.
So, you have Hollywood ambitions? Tell us something about it?
I’m going to work in a Hollywood movie soon, as a hero. We’ve already begun speaking to the concerned parties and very quickly, you’ll see me in a five-minute or a ten-minute role.
What is next for Guru Randhawa?
Bas Hollywood pe raaj karna chahta hoon yaar (I want to rule over Hollywood, that’s all).
Photographer: Kunal Gupta
Art Director: Tanvi Shah
Fashion Editor: Neelangana Vasudeva
Make-Up By Astha Agarwal
Hair By Ali Khan
All Watches By Bvlgari