It is safe to say that Gurcharan Mall does not have a lot left to prove in music, it seems that record breaking has become second nature to him; this is after all the man who broke the world record for assembling the largest gathering of Dhol drum players in one place not once, but twice. His charitable work and promotion of the Bhangra sound is known the world over, most notably with the Dholblasters and he is the founding father of the modern Bhangra era.
Yet with all that tucked firmly under his belt it seems that Gurcharan Mall otherwise known as King G. Mall is still not satisfied. On July 3rd of this year Birmingham played host to the ‘Music Builds Bridges’ festival which saw artists from all over the globe perform in the city’s ‘Victoria Square,’ the highlight of which was the unity that the day inspired among the audience and performing artists alike. This unity was fully recognised at the festivals finale when all the days’ performers took to the stage for a colourful rendition of ‘Aao Ji’ a song that quite fittingly means ‘come in.’
On the same day the song was released for charity and since then it has had over two hundred thousand hits on the social networking site ‘YouTube’ and according to Gurcharan “the number is still growing strong”.
The success of the song is perhaps primarily due to its uniqueness as the recording is the first ever Bhangra video to be filmed in three different countries namely Denmark, England, and Finland and also holds claim on being the first Bhangra song to feature four non Asian artists. The Video itself is a colourful and diverse affair with Gurcharan himself dancing in the street with various members of the public meeting and greeting them and getting them involved. The songs’ accessibility is something that is also surprising as witnessed at its live outing at ‘Music Builds Bridges 2010’ where the majority of the audience took part in singing it back to the artists, despite many of them being unable to understand Punjabi.
Such a feat is a testament to the songs ability to cross barriers of language, race and politics; indeed it seems the purpose of the video to create a common link between different cultures through music and the arts and to spread a message of positivity throughout. In a conversation with ‘Pukaar’ King G Mall stated, “The song is about meeting and greeting friends and people” furthermore he added “Music does build bridges, music and dance is a beautiful thing.”
It is quite fitting therefore that during the songs catchy refrain “Aao ji,” the reply is “Ji aian noon” which translates to “welcome, make yourself at home,” this message is clearly conveyed by the artists featured in the video, and the relationship among them is, one feels, that of a close friendship and respect for one another. Among the artists featured are Danish singer Anita Lerche, the first non Asian woman to release an album in Punjabi (for which she has received critical acclaim) as well as Yaz Alexander, Kiureli Sammallahti, and Gladston Foster better known as Birmingham reggae artist ‘Skibu.’
To conclude then it seems that with ‘Aao Ji’ yet again Gurcharan Mall has added yet another accomplishment to his list of accolades and one can only hope the song inspires the kind of unity that the video represents, on the feedback so far one could say that it might go the distance and do just that.