Music

Ginni Mahi’s fresh take on Punjabi music

Meaningful music: Ginni Mahi enjoys listening to old songs

Meaningful music: Ginni Mahi enjoys listening to old songs  

Ginni Mahie’s music reflects on social oppression through a tangential tribute to Dr B.R. Ambedkar

Exuberant, bold and bright, she appears to be the quintessential college girl who breaks into giggles while sharing chirpy stories. Unassuming yet self-assured, Ginni Mahi is a young musician who has steadily garnered a massive fan following with her fresh approach to Punjabi music. Slated to perform at the Udaipur World Music Festival organised by Seher (7-9 February 2020), she believes in balancing an entertaining act with meaningful messages for the audience.

People’s music

“What is folk music after all?” Quips the 21-year old vocalist as she bounces back the question, “This music is about and by ordinary people, it is about their lives.” Mahi believes it is important to understand the audience, their pulse, lives, everyday challenges and what matters to them. “Folk music is an integral part of people’s experiences, you don’t need to be educated or to understand the details of music to enjoy this. It is the rhythm of daily life, it is the melody one would like to hum while cooking in the kitchen, the lyrics that capture people’s culture. That is the music I want to make,” she emphasises quietly.

Based in Jalandhar, Punjab, and presently pursuing post graduation in music, Mahi shot to fame with her songs “Fan Baba Sahib Di” and “Danger Chamar” that squarely placed the ideology of BR Ambedkar within a spunky rendition of Punjabi music. “Baba Sahib talks about equality for all, specially the Dalit community and women. It is because of him that many of us are educated and have the rights that we may not have had otherwise.”

Her music reflects on social oppression through a tangential tribute to Ambedkar. “I am a big fan of Baba Sahib, he is the architect of our constitution and he is my idol,” says the youngster, “and that is simply why and how the song (Fan Baba Sahib Di) came about.” In 2016, the song went viral. Blending devotional music with crossover genres, hip hop beats and a powerful voice, the song set the style for Mahi.

This was followed closely by her next composition, ‘Danger Chamar’. Sporting swag in a funky music video, the youngster emerged as a promising singing sensation. Working with a team that carefully marks out everything from the theme of the song to her wardrobe in the video, Mahi believes discussions are as important as the final song itself. “The two important things that we look at are — time and trend,” she explains. “We think together as a team, talk about what the audience wants to listen to, select the songs that writers have sent in, and how do we want to present this. The concept for the music video is also very important and it is collaborative work.”

Breaking into a chuckle, Mahi confesses to being a prankster on the sets. “It’s true, I am mischievous. I make fun of things, I can be quite goofy, I just like to have fun!” She says muffling her guffaw, “That’s why people I work with love me, but they also get annoyed by me sometimes. The bottomline is that music is serious work, but it must always be fun.”

Base notes

Mahi’s family has been her pillar of support. “It is not easy for a simple girl like me to perform on stage in front of thousands of people. There are so many restrictions for girls even today, but my family is open-minded and supportive.” She recalls the global media forum in Germany in 2018 where she was among the youngest speakers. “To break out of our constraints and into the world requires family support, motivation, and I am so thankful that my parents have stood by me and guide me with such courage.”

She would hum songs to herself as a child. Her father, Rakesh Chander Mahi, consulted a friend who suggested a music teacher. “I was 12 years old when I gave my first stage performance of Punjabi devotional music,” recalls Mahi. “I was super nervous, I think I made many mistakes, but people gave me a lot of affection.” Gradually, she started performing in singing competitions and became more pre-occupied with notes, melodies and rhythms. “I would wake up at 5 a.m. for practice, without any pressure or goading from anyone.” she says. Her day still starts with the early morning riyaaz session.

Future flight

“I want to become a playback singer in Hindi films,” says the youngster. Addicted to music, she listens to old songs. Rhapsodising about the legends she says, “There is nothing like the old melodies of Punjabi music, they are so rich, no wonder the remixes of those are still the biggest hits.” Talking about her upcoming gig at the Udaipur World Music Festival, she exclaims, “It is such a grand platform, I will perform what the audience wants. Punjabi music is about observing people, creating something they would enjoy and then having them dance to your music!”

Her eyes light up mischievously when asked about other hobbies, “Food, I love chatpata food – golgappe, garam jalebi, and in the winters hot gulab jamun! Why don’t you come over for some, we could binge together after my next show?” She says with the disarming charm of an artist rooted in homegrown aesthetics and set to fly into promising pastures.

(Ginni Mahi will perform on February 7, 2020 at the Udaipur World Music Festival. The three-day multi-venue festival in Udaipur will feature 150 artists from over 20 countries in Udaipur.)

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:32:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/ginni-mahis-fresh-take-on-punjabi-music/article30692064.ece

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