King G Mall, as he is now widely known, is one of the most prolific and pioneering musical personalities in the world of Indian Bhangra music and Dhol drumming. Having been instrumental in the birth of Bhangra music industry in the western world, Gurcharan is without any doubt, the most loved, respected and cherished of the world's legendary Dhol players.
Bhangra is a traditional form of dance and music which originates from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. It was initially used as a celebratory folk dance which heralded the coming of spring, or Vaisakhi, as it is known.
Following the partition of India different regions of the country began to mix and interact sharing their different forms of Bhangra. The end result was a hybrid being created which incorporated the many different styles of the unique act. Bhangra became popularized chiefly due to the Sikh community who helped to integrate the music and dance into the Bollywood film industry.
In its purest form Bhangra is a mix of singing accompanied by music and the beat of a single drum known as a dhol. The lyrics are always sung in the language of Punjabi and usually relate to social or cultural issues. These can be anything from marriage and love to money and dancing, or even getting drunk. Current Bhangra artists take their inspiration from all kinds of sources, often dealing with hot topics of the time. Bhangra seeks to offer a message along with its music.
Bhangra dances differ from region to region and still retain their own unique identities. The term Bhangra has come to incorporate a whole host of these dance forms including Jhumar, Luddi, Giddha, Julli, Daankara, Dhamal, Saami, Kikli, and Gatka. The dancers sing the chorus of the song whilst dancing around the drum, or dhol, which sets the unique beat of the dance.
Nowadays Bhangra influences can be seen in many Bollywood films, and it’s even found its way into forms of popular non-Asian culture, such is its unique appeal.
King Gurcharan Mall’s will be performing for us with his group The Dhol Blasters and running Dhol workshops. His unbelievable career still continues, including being presented a British Empire Medal by the Queen last year for his services to Asian culture and music in the UK. We can only wait to see what is next for the world’s greatest Dholi.