Meet the rockers

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By Pratim D. Gupta catches up with Navtej Singh Rehal of Bombay Rockers as the Indo-Danish duo gears up to perform in the city tonight
  • Published 21.05.05
BOMBAY BEATS: Thomas Sardorf and Navtej Singh Rehal

Teri toh? Teri tah?

They have rocked so many of your parties sitting in Denmark. And now, Navtej Singh Rehal and Thomas Sardorf are in town to Rock tha party at Golden Park’s Fusion on Saturday night, live.

Joe Satriani may be guitar god for a discerning few, but the beat of Bombay Rockers is what gets every party animal going.

What’s more, it’s a Calcutta-based event management company called Mirage that has got the international duo touring India.

Landing in Delhi on Thursday night, Navtej spoke to Goodlife over phone during a late Friday morning breakfast.

Coming together

Thomas and Janus Barnewitz were two halves of the Scandinavian producer team WCA. Indian singer Navtej, better known as Naf, got jamming with the two and what resulted became known as Bombay Rockers.

While Naf became the Indian vocalist, Thomas started singing the English lyrics with Janus remaining in the background.

“In Denmark, the mention of the word ‘Bombay’ connects everyone with India,” says Naf.

“Now, Indianness is what sets our music apart from the rest. So the name Bombay Rockers was kept to make the Danish understand the Indian roots of our music,” he adds.

It was Punjabi MC’s Mundiyan tu bachke rahi that “inspired” Bombay Rockers to come up with its first single Ari ari, which got extended national airplay on Danish radio and was a rage with the DJs there.

“After Ari ari, we didn’t want to do the same UK bhangra stuff,” recalls Naf. “It was then that we formulated our own kind of sound which is a mix of rock, pop, R&B and dance music. It’s now called pop everywhere, though.”

Going places

From Las Vegas to Copenhagen, Bombay Rockers was soon jamming everywhere. Its concert at the Images of Asia festival branded the duo as the next big thing in Indian music outside India.

And before the Danish radios could get over its first official single Sexy Mama, the Bombay Rockers debut album Introducing? was released in more than 32 countries around the world.

“The fun thing was that none of the people in the foreign countries including Europe could actually understand the Hindi lyrics in our songs,” laughs Naf. “They would just love the music and pick up the words slowly. But then again it was the Indian words in our songs which made them stand out in the hip-hop and R&B heap that is being dished out.”

It was, finally, the single Rock tha party which got everyone grooving to Bombay Rockers.

“It was the simplicity of the lyrics ? Teri toh, teri tah ? which made the song so catchy and put it on everyone’s lips,” feels the Indian half of the duo. “And we started rocking every party everywhere.”

Here and now

This is, in fact, Bombay Rockers’ first commercial tour in India.

“It’s gotta be really good ? we will finally get to sing in front of people who completely understand our language,” shouts an animated Naf.

“We have never been so excited before a live performance,” he admits.

Bombay Rockers is also very keen about the city jig at the restobar of the Ho Chi Minh Sarani hotel. “We are aware that we have been a big hit at the discos in Calcutta and it should be great to get a first-hand feel of the proceedings,” he feels.

And what about the next album, now that the sound of Bombay Rockers has rocked us and them?

“We aren’t sure at the moment,” admits Naf. “But it’s definitely going to be something pop,” he signs off.

For now, it’s just time to Rock tha party?