Diljit Dosanjh is an Indian Punjabi singer, actor and television presenter. Born in a small village in Jalandhar, Punjab, India. Today he is recognized as one of the leading artists in the Punjabi music industry. He also acts in Punjabi movies, with many of them being noticeable hits, including 2012 film Jatt & Juliet, 2013 film Jatt & Juliet 2 and 2015 film Sardaar Ji – which are counted among the most successful Punjabi movies in history. His first recorded mainstream performance was his solo track and music video Ishq Da Uda Ada from his 2000 album produced by Finetone Cassettes.
Life and career
1984–2000: Early life and beginnings
Diljit Dosanjh was born in a small village near Jalandhar district in Punjab, India. His father, Balbir Singh Dosanjh, is an employee of Punjab Roadways, and his mother, Sukhwinder Kaur, is a housewife. He has two siblings, one sister and one brother. He spent his early childhood in Dosanjh Kalan and then moved to Ludhiana, Punjab from where he completed his formal education, including his high school diploma from Al manar Public School. While still in school, he began singing Sikh music at local gurdwaras.
2000–2004: Ishq Da Uda Ada and Dil
Dosanjh released his first album Ishq Da Uda Ada in 2000 with Finetone Cassettes, a division of T-Series. Rajinder Singh of Finetone, who helped Dosanjh make a debut in the Punjabi music industry, suggested him to spell his first name as Diljit instead of Daljit. The music was composed by Bablu Mahindra and the lyrics were written by Balvir Boparai. Dosanjh gave vocals to all the eight tracks and the producers made a music video for the title track of the album. In 2004, his second album Dil was released, which was again with Finetone Cassettes. Both of these albums were flop in the industry.
2004–2010: More mixtapes and singles
Dosanjh’s third album, Smile, with tracks Nachh Diyan Alran Kuwariyan and Paggan Pochviyan Wale, soared Dosanjh’s popularitiy. The album was released by T-Series in 2005. His next album, Ishq Ho Gaya was released in 2006 by Finetone Cassettes. Next album, titled Chocolate, came out in 2008. In 2009, Dosanjh released four different singles –Bhagat Singh, No Tension, Power of Duets and Dance with Me. Next year, Dosanjh released his sixth album called The Next Level with nine tracks. Dosanjh gave his next song in 2010 for Mel Karade Rabba: Original Soundtrack. The track was lip-synced by the actor Jimmy Shergill and was included in the feature film of the same name during opening credits.
2011–2012: Entry into Punjabi movies and Lak 28 Kudi Da
2011 saw Dosanjh’s entry into mainstream Punjabi movies. His debut film in the lead role, The Lion of Punjab, was released in February 2011. Though the film flopped at the box office, his track, “Lak 28 Kudi Da“, from the movie’s soundtrack was a major success. The track, featuring Yo Yo Honey Singh, reached number 1 on The Official Asian Download Chart in UK published by the BBC. In July 2011, his second Punjabi movie, Jihne Mera Dil Luteya was released. The film, also featuring Gippy Grewal and Neeru Bajwa, did good business. Dosanjh gave vocals to six of the twelve tracks in the film’s soundtrack. In November the same year, Diljit declared that he won’t release his controversial album, Urban Pendu, that included the single 15 Saal. That single, featuring Yo Yo Honey Singh, talked about promiscuous behaviour of underage girls and their indulgence in alcohol, drugs and tattoos. He wrote on his Facebook page, “It was not my intention to hurt anyone’s sentiments. I apologize to my fans who were waiting for this song.” Dosanjh wore a T-shirt with the words “Urban Pendu” printed on it in the music video of his 2013 hit single, Proper Patola as a remembrance of that track and album. Dosanjh also released three different singles in 2011 – Catty Eyes, Dharti and Chustiyan.
2012–present: Breakthrough with Jatt & Juliet and Proper Patola
Dosanjh continued his collaboration with Honey Singh in 2012 and released a single titled “Goliyan” that formed a part of the album International Villager He next sang for the soundtrack of Bollywood film Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya, released in January 2012, in a single called “Pee Pa Pee Pa” that also featured Priya Panchal. He also acted in that music video in the movie. His subsequent single, “Bodyguard”, glorified the fall of Libyan revolutionary and politician, Muammar Gaddafi, where Dosanjh sang about his lifestyle, capture and death. His subsequent single, “Miss Lonely”, was composed by JSL Singh. In March 2012, he released his first religious album titled Sikh. The album featured eight singles and talked about the principles and philosophy of Sikh religion. Dosanjh played a lead role in June 2012 movie Jatt & Juliet, which became one of the biggest hits in the Punjabi film industry. The award-winning film, directed by Anurag Singh, also featured actress Neeru Bajwa and was shot in Punjab & Mumbai in India and Vancouver, Canada. Dosanjh Diljit won the PTC Punjabi Film Award for Best Actor for the movie. He gave vocals to five of the seven songs in the soundtrack of the movie. The same year in November, he released his eighth album, called Back 2 Basics, with nine tracks and the music composed by Tru-Skool. In January 2013, Dosanjh’s third Punjabi film, Saadi Love Story hit the big screens. The film, that also starred Amrinder Gill and Surveen Chawla, flopped at the box office. Dosanjh sang for two songs in the movie’s soundtrack, which was composed by Jaidev Kumar. Dosanjh made a guest appearance in the April 2013 Bollywood movie Bikkar Bai Sentimental with his track “Main Fan Bhagat Singh Da”. Inspired by the success of Jatt & Juliet, the producers of the movie released a sequel to the film, titled Jatt & Juliet 2, in June 2013. Dosanjh played the role of a cop in the movie. The film had nine songs in the soundtrack, of which four were sung by Dosanjh. He gave vocals for the track “Main Taan Aidaan Hi Nachna” from the soundtrack of Bollywood movie Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, which was released in June 2013. In August 2013, Dosanjh’s music video “Proper Patola” was released on Vevo, making it the first Punjabi song to be featured on Vevo. The single, composed by Badshah, received over one million hits on YouTube just within a fortnight of its release. Dosanjh said, “I extend my thanks to all who have liked watching the song. I’m glad to live up to the expectations of all, and with their faith in me.” Diljit shot for his next Punjabi movie, Disco Singh, which was released on 11 April 2014. The movie, directed and written by Anurag Singh, also features Surveen Chawla and is shot in Delhi NCR. In 2014, he worked for the movie Punjab 1984, which is set in the backdrop of 1984–86 Punjab insurgency. The film was released on 27 June 2014 and is directed by Anurag Singh. The movie won National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Punjabi. Diljit is only the first south Asian artist who visited the US headquarters of Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram on the same day. Recently, he sang in a duet song in Coke Studio @ MTV Season 4, Ki Banu Duniya Da, with the singer Gurdas Maan which was released on 15 August 2015 and was broadcast on 16 August 2015 on MTV India. Diljit’s second film from 2015, Mukhtiar Chadha was appreciated for his very unique role in it. In 2015, Most Sensational Celebrities (MSC) study among most famous people in Pollywood the riskiest personalities on the web, Diljit Dosanjh was found number one from number five in 2014 thus leaving behind Mika Singh, Gippy Grewal and Harbhajan Mann.
Musical style and influences
Continually experimenting with new musical ideas and images, Dosanjh’s musical and performance style is the subject of analysis and scrutiny from critics. Dosanjh grew up learning music from Gobinder Singh Alampuri and Kartar Singh, and his initial work reflected their style. His later collaboration with Honey Singh lend a different dimension to his music. He has taken influences from various music composers he has worked with – Jaidev Kumar, Sukhpal Sukh, Sachin Ahuja, Pavneet Birgi, Jassi Bros Bhinda Aujla, and the one and only Tru Skool. His goal is to make a Punjabi song that becomes worldwide hit like Korean single Gangnam Style.
Videos, movies and stage
His live performances are described as highly entertaining and innovative. For his music videos, he has worked with a wide range of directors like Rimpy Prince, Amarjit Satwant, Parmod Sharma Rana and Azeem I Parkar. He has been best appreciated for comic roles in the movies.
Besides his career in the entertainment industry, Dosanjh started an NGO called Saanjh Foundation focusing on underprivileged children and seniors, contributing to orphanages and old age homes. It also endeavours youth empowerment with issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring, and career development. It takes its name from the second part of Dosanjh’s last name, which loosely translated means “amity”. He launched this organisation on his birthday in 2013