'Life came a full circle with '83 movie': Harrdy Sandhu on movies, songs and his first love, cricket

With the role of Madan Lal in Kabir Khan’s ’83, life comes to a full circle for Harrdy Sandhu, who started his career with cricket before he sang those melodies and chartbusters
Harrdy Sandhu
Harrdy Sandhu

It was in 2010 when Hardavinder Singh Sandhu aka Harrdy Sandhu started learning music. It wasn’t his first choice — he had already spent a decade on cricket and had played for Ranji Trophy and represented India in Under-19 cricket. But fate had something else in store for him! He carved a niche in the Punjabi music industry with back-to-back hits songs — while romantic-melodies like Soch (2014) and Joker registered over 190 million views together, party anthems Hornn Blow, Backbone and Naah witnessed over 260 million, 370 million and 430 million views, respectively. After Bollywood chartbusters like Naah Goriye for Bala and Chandigarh Mein for Good Newwz, he recently released Jee Karr Daa featuring Amyra Dastur. Indulge got chatting with the musician about his cricket and making Bollywood debut with Ranveer Singh-starrer Kapil Dev biopic, '83. Excerpts:

Q: How did your recent track Jee Karr Daa come about?
I wanted to work with Mellow D (lyricist) and Akull (composer) so I met them and asked them to run me through the songs that they have for me on their mind. After a few songs, they finally played  Jee Karr Daa and at that instant, I told them ‘this is my song, keep it for me’. Sourav Roy did additional programming and added sitar and flute, making it even better. Usually, it takes us about two-three months but this one took longer because we were shooting it in Istanbul and I was also working on the film ’83 at the same time.

<em>A still from Jee Karr Daa featuring Harrdy Sandhu and Amyra Dastur</em>
A still from Jee Karr Daa featuring Harrdy Sandhu and Amyra Dastur

Q: The song Soch (2014) is a landmark moment in your career and features a beautiful video. Could you please take us through the making of the video?
To tell you honestly, I got 11 lakhs from my father in 2010 when I decided to pursue music. Before Soch, I was left with only about `2 lakh and I didn’t want to go back to him and ask for more money. My first album was out by then but there were little returns. As we were scouting for locations for this song, I remember telling people who were working on it that if it fails, I won’t be able to continue it. Luckily it worked well.

Q: What does it mean for you when your songs make it to a Bollywood film?
Earlier we used to think that it is a huge deal if a song makes it to Bollywood but slowly, I realised that independent music is becoming bigger. Today, I feel, independent music is bigger. However, it still feels good when a song makes it to a movie since the whole of India listens to it.  

Q: Before you started singing, you played cricket for close to a decade and stopped because of an injury. What had happened?
I played cricket for about nine years and suffered three injuries because of which I couldn’t continue. The first one happened when I was playing for India under-19 in 2005. I got my back fractured, but I was scared to tell anyone and continued playing. After the game, I went to rehab for six months. Afterwards, I started training again and played for Punjab Ranji Trophy and around the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007, I received an injury in my elbow. Hopeful of getting it fixed in Australia, I went there with a student visa and enrolled myself for a community welfare course. Alongside, I was driving a taxi and getting myself treated too. Sometime later, when I saw those players who would sit outside while I would play, playing for IPL, I felt really bad and patched three of my friends in a conference call and told them that I am coming back to resume cricket and in case, I couldn’t, I will start singing. I just said it out of the blue. I used to sing while driving and had been told that I sing well by friends but until that moment there were no plans to take it seriously.

Q: So, this was the beginning of your career as a singer?
Not yet. I returned in 2009 and went to see a doctor who used to be the physiotherapist of the Sri Lankan team. He gave me three injections and they helped me immensely. I started training and got back into the team playing for Ranji Trophy. Three days before the match, I received the same injury and this time I went into depression. I didn’t come out of my room for three months and had no idea what to do next but then I told myself that only I could help myself and eventually started learning music in 2010.

<em>Harrdy Sandhu</em>
Harrdy Sandhu

Q: At what point did the acting bug bit you since you have done two Punjabi films in the past?
I will be honest with you. The first film that I did (Yaaran Da Katchup, 2014) was days before Soch when I was left with very little money and I did it in case the song didn’t work, I will have money to work on my next song. Also, every Punjabi singer at that point was doing films so I also signed one. The second film that I did was also because I needed money. Besides, it was appealing on paper and they had offered me a lead role.  

Q: What made you come on board for ’83? Did you approach Kabir Khan or did he approach you?
The love for cricket and cinema. I have always been a big movie buff, so when I got to know that Kabir Khan is making ’83, I was excited about it but I was so occupied that I didn’t do anything about it. There was only one day in the month when I was free. So, I had gone to my home in Chandigarh and was sleeping when Ammy Virk (singer) called and after asking if I am at home, he asked me to come to the restaurant in my building, saying he wants me to meet someone. Upon reaching there, I saw Ammy sitting with Kabir Khan and his assistants. Life came a full circle; it came right at my doorstep. They asked me if I could do the bowling and then asked me to send them a video clip of throwing a ball. I sent it and was desperately waiting to hear back from them. A few days later, while I was taking an afternoon nap, I received a call but missed it. When I called back, the assistant answered and said, ‘Sir, how did you do this action? Everyone loved you! We would like to have you on board’.

Q: How was it working on ’83 and bringing to action the legendary Madan Lal?
It was an experience of a lifetime. Who gets a chance to hold the original ’83 World Cup trophy at Lord’s? For me, playing cricket for those three months was amazing. Playing Madan Lal sir wasn’t that difficult because he was a fast bowler and so was I. So, when it comes to copying his action, I was close because I have played cricket for so long. Also, he was our bowling coach when I playing U-19. When it comes to his normal life, the way he talks and walks, I worked on it with him. He has had so many moments in the 1983 World Cup and I get to play those. I can’t ask for anything more!

Q: What’s next in the pipeline?
There is a song in the making. It is a beautiful song that falls in the same genre as Soch and Joker. It should come out in the next two months.


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