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News |  26 May 2016 20:50 |  By Suhas Thobbi

The Curious Case of Baba Sehgal

Baba Sehgal has cooked the perfect recipe for sweet success. And that would not have been possible without the essential ingredient – the youth. From performing in a youth-oriented music festival to the interaction with fans on an almost daily basis, Sehgal has no plans of slowing down since gaining rhythm on the popularity front ever since the first song hit YouTube.

For the latest effort to enhance his outreach among the youth, Sehgal will be seen in an actor’s capacity for Viacom 18’s digital platform Voot’s newest web-series. Titled ‘Soadies’, the potential spin-off of MTV’s popular reality show ‘Roadies’, Sehgal’s character belongs to a reality-show-obsessed Punjabi family finding ways to ensure at least one family member appears in the popular show. The six-episode long series arrives with a theme song composed by the 90s pop icon (now a social media sensation) -‘Baba’.

For a millennial, Sehgal was an absolute superstar. His recent movements in the music space suggest that his age is inversely proportional to the target audience. In fact, Sehgal composing lullabies and bed-time audio books do not seem like an improbable task in the near future. If Sehgal announced his arrival with a song on Madonna, he smartly repeats the formula in 2016 with Rihanna. Sehgal would be consuming the same amount of time to write the lyrics as the listener takes to listen to them. And, for someone, who’s completely unaware about lyrical standards, that’s a bad sign.

One can’t call Sehgal naïve, because the impressive half-a-million views on YouTube do refute the claim. And nor can one call him a genius, because apart from creating refreshingly trendy and catchy songs, the composer has done nothing to surpass his own popularity established during the 90s. “The intention is to portray my work, not clothes and style,” claims Sehgal, who found himself at the receiving end of a lot of criticism for the body-shaming through the single ‘Dieting Kar Le’. Ironic.

The songwriter (yes, songwriter) has created several bizarre lyrical work that, probably, the artist (yes, artist) has realised it’s too late to even rework on the approach. Sehgal’s usual target audience comprises of the younger lot exposed to all kinds of musical genres and styles, and the strategy is working. “I would like to thank the youth for accepting me again for what I am.” Sehgal understands what worked for him, and let’s face it, why would anyone want to harm a reputation consciously created for the ‘moniez’.

“Why should I do anything that the mainstream musicians do?” rightly questions Sehgal, when asked about the low-budgeted videos supporting equally cheesy and quirky compositions. The man does make a strong case. Every music video Sehgal posted in the past 18 months has found its way on every social media user’s timeline, at some point or other. The home-made videos, with the help of a green screen, although poorly edited have managed to overshadow almost every dedicated YouTube channel owned by an Indian musician. “If the content is good, the value of music budget does not matter.” In Sehgal’s defense, the content of the music video does not comprise of white ladies circling a yellow Lamborghini desperately lip-syncing the Punjabi words.

Forgotten pop stars from the country have previously attempted to utilise the strength of social media to complete a comeback, and as history suggests, the comebacks have helped the musician(s) not to a great extent.  Ask Sehgal about the bigger picture, the 50-year-old casually replies, “I just want to live in this moment.” Not a strangely bizarre thing for a musician to say, surely not bizarre as Honey Singh’s claim to win a Grammy. Considering Sehgal’s tweets and lyrics that spread like fire on the day of its public appearance, largely due to the fact that the content is so bad that it’s actually good, the ‘Aaja Mere Gaadi Mein Baith Jaa’ singer brushes off his recent rise would lead to any comparison with the established mainstream rappers. “I do not have any competition with Honey Singh or other rappers. Their content caters to Bollywood, not mine. Mein jhol jhaal nahi karta.”

Sehgal reminded that he did not disappear during the last decade, as the South Indian music industry had the privilege to experience his art. “Let’s clear it once and for all. I had not disappeared. I was mostly occupied with my projects in South India. For eight long years, I associated myself with an extremely creative and disciplined industry.” Of course, that creativity and discipline can be seen in the latest projects, Baba.
Sehgal’s resurrection will definitely continue with more live music performances, and ‘Soadies-like’ projects, and as long as the content remains to be trademark Sehgal effort, the case of Baba Sehgal will revolve around only one question: Is he a genius or are we dumb?