Surjit Bindrakhia

15 Apr 1962
17 Nov 2003
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Surjit Bindrakhia (15 April 1962 – 17 November 2003), born Surjit Singh Bains, was a Punjabi Indian singer. He was known for his hekh, in which he sings a note continuously in one breath. His hits include Dupatta Tera Satrang Da, Bas Kar Bas Kar, Tera Yaar Bolda, and Jatt Di Pasand. Surjit is considered to have one of the greatest voices in the history of Bhangra. He received a special jury award at the 2004 Filmfare Awards for his contribution to Punjabi music.

Surjit was born to his father, Sucha Singh, and his mother, Gurcharan Kaur, in the village of Bindrakh of district Rupnagar in Punjab. His father was a famous village wrestler, who brought the village to prominence. Surjit was influenced by his father to take up wrestling and kabaddi. He won intercollege bouts at the university level. Although, his father always wanted Surjit to be a wrestler, he always wanted to be a singer. He began his singing career by singing boliyan for his college bhangra team. He received formal teaching from his guru, Atul Sharma. Bindrakhia appeared in films, before he was a major figure in the music industry. He was extra in movies, appearing in the background of several scenes. It wasn’t until lyricist Shamsher Sandhu recognised his talent that Surjit had an opportunity in the music industry. All of his hit songs were written by Shamsher Sandhu and music was produced by Atul Sharma. He married Preet Kamal. The couple had two children, his son, Gitaz Bindrakhia, and daughter, Minaz Bindrakhia.

Surjit Bindrakhia had arguably one of the most powerful voice among Bhangra singers during his time. Throaty, with a wide range of sounds, he was one of the most successful traditional artist doing the rounds of the bhangra scene during his time. Surjit had been known in Punjab for many years, but his big break in the expatriate market came with Dupatta Tera Sat Rang Da 1995, a track that was his best known. Since many remixes in 1990’s were made of his older songs and a new releases. Surjit Bindrakhia is credited as being the first international superstar in bhangra music. His song Dupatta Tera Sat Rang Da holds the record for being the number one Punjabi song on UK charts for weeks.

Immensely popular in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s at the rural lengend belt of Punjab, Bindrakhia’s voice was considered to be one of the most powerful voices among traditional singers like in Punjab. He had cut 32 solo audio cassettes during his decade-long tour career. Surjit had been known in the Punjab for many years before, but his big break in the expatriate market came with Dupatta Tera Sat Rang Da 1995 a track that can only be called explosive. Since then there had been various remixes in the 1990s of his older songs and some blockbuster new releases, including ‘Tu Ni Boldi’ and ‘Jatt Di Pasand’ Bindrakhia was a traditional bhangra singer, and since most of his work had been produced in India, it may at first have appeared unpolished. Certainly the music is more “rustic” than that found on many bhangra bands from the UK, but that did not reduce its impact. There are more sustained dhol beats in Bindrakhia’s work than you would find elsewhere and the style is traditional.

A note must be made of the high tone Bindrakhia sometimes uses, which sounded like a screech. You can find others trying such vocal pyrotechnics, but few can pull it off as Bindrakhia did. His singing style worked with the beat, so you would find him pausing along with the dhol and raising and shifting into different keys as the dhol does. All of this gave Bindrakhia the air of a child gone a little mad with his voice. Stated to be one of the most popular singers in Punjab, Surjit Bindrakhia was considered to be the vital link between traditional Punjabi folk music and modern Punjabi pop.

In 2011 DJ Harvey and Nirmal Sidhu made a tribute song to Surjit Bindrakhia called Bindrakhia Boliyan, it has been a huge success since its release being ranked at Number 1 on the BBC Asian Network Chart in the first week of release.

Bindrakhia died of a heart attack on the Morning of 17 November 2003 at his home in Phase-7, Mohali.

Many singers and artists attended his bhog and funeral at Bindrakhia’s native village Bindrakh. Some of the artists who turned up to pay their last respects to the legend included Hans Raj Hans, Gurpreet Ghuggi, Babbu Maan, his lyricist and a close friend Shamsher Singh Sandhu, his guru and music composer Atul Sharma, and the legendary Gurdas Mann. Bindrakhia stormed the market with over 250 million hit sales of which 175 million came from India alone. He later combined with greats such as Surinder Shinda doing live sets.

The great Punjabi singer Babbu Maan pays him a tribute with a song dedicated to Bindrakhia titled as Pind Diyan Juhaan and a UK singer, Bee2, dedicated a song “Bindrakhia fer Aa (the great song) to Surjit Bindrakhia.”

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