Daler Mehndi is an Indian Bhangra pop singer who is known for his contribution to Indian Pop music.
Mehndi was a student of traditional Punjabi music and his first album broke sales records in India. Since 1995 he has recorded several highly successful albums in India, and also sung as a playback singer for several Hindi movies. His international popularity has grown in recent years allowing him to tour the United States. Mehndi is also well known as a philanthropist, funding beautification projects in Delhi and aiding earthquake victims.
Originally a Punjabi, Daler was born and raised in Patna, Bihar to a Jat family. He began singing at the age of 6 and was taught the ragas and Shabads from the Guru Granth Sahib by his parents. At the age of fourteen he spent three years refining his voice and learning how to play the tabla, dholak/dhool, harmonium and tanpura from Late Ustad Raahat Ali Khan Saheb of Gorakhpur.
Daler Mehndi eventually switched from classical music to pop, and in 1995 his first album Bolo Ta Ra Ra, with tunes based on those given to him by his mother,sold half a million copies in four months and 20 million copies total, making him the best selling non-soundtrack album in Indian music history. He received the Award for Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest in 1994. He earned Channel V's Best Male Pop Singer Award, which he received in 1996 for Dar Di Rab Rab and in 1997 for Ho Jayegi Bale Bale. He has appeared in the films Mrityudata and Arjun Pundit. His success helped him negotiate a record-breaking deal with his record company Magnasound for 20.5 million rupees. He has also been a guest star on the new Indian version of Sesame Street known as Galli Galli Sim Sim. He has also appeared as the mentor in the Zee TV reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar.
His album song 'Tunak Tunak Tun' (1998) is a worldwide Internet phenomenon. 'Tunak Tunak Tun' was the first music video to make use of bluescreen technology in India.
Daler Mehndi got into controversy after he was charged with 31 counts of immigration law violations. He was in hiding for a month before he surrendered to police in Patiala. Punjab police Director General, A. A. Siddiqui, later stated Mehndi was innocent and insinuated that the confusion arose because Daler and his brother, who was the original target of the scandal, looked alike.
An Indian Islamic group called Raza Academy took Mehndi to court over some of the lyrics and the video of his album Nabi Buba Nabi to be offensive. Several of the words were changed, removing references to 'prophet'.
Daler Mehndi specializes in a type of Hindi-Pop that he infuses with Rababi singing, a Sikh musical tradition. The sound is similar to that of Techno, dance, and house music, with the folk sounds of an Indian tabla being played in the background. His popularity and the concurrent revival of Bhangra music is thought to be driven by the ease of dancing to it and a national pride in the Indian people. He has been trained under Girija Devi for a short span.
Mehndi has established the Daler Mehndi Green Drive to help make a cleaner environment in Delhi. He has also donated 85 million rupees to the green drive, 12 million rupees to KARGIL charities, and built 16 houses in Gujarat after an earthquake there. He also did a concert series in Pakistan to raise funds for the quake victims. He has also helped rehabilitate victims of the Orissa cyclone and street children in Kenya.