Song: Rangla Punjab
Album: Mela Vekhdiye Mutiyare (1996)
Artist: Sarbjit Cheema
Producer: Sukhpal Sukh
Label: Raja Entertainers
With Cheema scoring his biggest hit in years, a new entry in last week’s Asian Download Chart Top 5 with the Dr. Zeus produced “Maa Diye Mithiye”; we wind the clock back for his most famous track- an epic 4 minute recording called “Rangla Punjab”. Over the years different versions and remixes have surfaced but the original rightly takes the crown in bhangra history.
A slice of primal folk, the song is a stellar glorification of Punjab. Released in the mid-90s and at a time when India-based producers were competing with their UK counterparts and trying to modernize their sound; Cheema & music producer Sukhpal Sukh instinctively swam against the tide, taking it right back to the roots and creating a masterpiece in the process.
Lifted from the 1996 album Mela Vekhdiye Mutiyare, the song remains an anomaly of that era; raw, uncompromising and lacking any pop sensibility; yet it worked, becoming one of the biggest tracks of its time. With a string of hit & miss albums that followed and, now in 2013/2014, a reinvigorated film career (Punjab Bolda, Haani) and a musical rebirth in the UK courtesy of Zeus, “Rangla Punjab” will always remain Cheema’s immortal contribution to Punjabi music– and for a brief moment out-folking even Bindrakhia at a time when he ruled supreme.
Forget the reworked versions that followed, instead savour the original in all its grainy VHS glory: