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Bulla I know not who I amů
Nor did I create the difference of faith
Nor did I create Adam and Eve
Nor did I name myself

English translations of 18th century Sufi poet Bulla Shah's words seem unlikely on a chart-topping Indipop debut album sleeve. But then, everything about Rabbi Shergill is unlikely.

The broadest classification possible for his music is rock, his lyrics Punjabi, his video bereft of belly buttons. His songs flit from Bryan Adams-ish light to Leonard Cohen-esque darkness. He sings Simon and Garfunkel in an autorickshaw, and says, "Chhod yaar [let it be, man]" when you ask him his age.

He even comes walking to the neighbourhood coffee shop with his guitar if you ask him to.

September 30, 1988, Bruce Springsteen (Amnesty's Human Rights Now) concert. That was when the man, whose album has got the pundits and proletariat rooting for it in unison, decided music was it for him. "The sheer power of what rock could do, to be accepted and respected by such a lot of people," he says.

"Those were the wander years. So I wandered. I did that for a long time," he says of the period in Khalsa College, Delhi. He taught himself guitar, "got into hard rock. Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith," idolised Jimmy Page, hung out, wore his hair long rockstar style, saw the world through LSD-coloured glasses.

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Text: Sumit Bhattacharya
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda
Design: Uday Kuckian

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