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Jammu Origin Artist Bhau Brings a Refreshing Twist to Dogri on ‘Kelli?’

The Bengaluru-based guitarist, producer and singer Rohit Singh Bhau released an Urdu album ‘Phir Se Kareeb’ in 2018

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Anurag Tagat May 18, 2020

Jammu origin singer-producer Rohit Singh Bhau aka Bhau. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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The mention of Dogri music may evoke questions of what the language even is or at best, visuals of men and women in Jammu and Kashmir singing folk songs in traditionally colorful attire. But singer-producer Rohit Singh Bhau aka Bhau is here to change that perception. His latest single and music video for “Kelli?” (“why?” in Dogri) uses chill R&B and hip-hop songwriting to introspect on growing up and losing the innocence of childhood.

While Bhau released his debut album Phir Se Kareeb in 2018 (and remastered it for a second run in March this year), that was mostly songs in Urdu. Tracks like “Makheer” and “Kelli?” are his first attempts to sing in his mother tongue. He says, “Although it’s related to Punjabi, it [Dogri] never got the same amount of exposure or recognition. Jammu doesn’t have a vibrant music and film culture. So there’s very few contemporary Dogri artists working to push the language into the mainstream.”

Produced and recorded within 15 days during the lockdown, “Kelli?” concludes with a firepower rap section, in which Bhau let’s words fly. With over 10,000 views on YouTube – for an edit-heavy video that was also shot on a phone at Bhau’s home by roommate Oran Brahma – Bhau is now working on a full-length Dogri album. The sounds are likely to range from lo-fi hip-hop to R&B to psychedelic folk rock. “Since there’s not a lot of people doing this right now, I have a lot of scope to innovate and experiment with my sound […] I feel like it’s an important cultural responsibility for me to represent my language and hometown through my music,” he says.

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Watch the video for “Kelli?” below. Stream on more platforms here.

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