The “Tunak Tunak Tun” man of bright turbans and jackets and frenetic dancing started off on a quiet and classical note. Born on August 18, 1967 in Patna, Bihar, Daler Mehndi started singing at the tender age of six. His parents would teach him hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib. At 14, after running away from home, he underwent formal classical training in singing as well as in instruments like the tabla and tanpura under Ustad Raahat Ali Khan Saheb of Gorakhpur.
By 1991 he had formed his own band comprising of his brothers, cousins and friends, performing popular numbers at various social events. He was awarded the Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest in 1994 at Almaty, Kazakhstan, trumping nearly 200 participants.
His crossover from folk-classical to folk-pop brought him greater recognition and fame. His first major success was “Bolo Ta Ra Ra” (1995), inspired from a Punkabi folk tune by his mother. The album went onto sell millions of copies. The next album, equally zesty with his personal flavour of Bhangra was “Dardi Rab Rab”, earned him the Channel V Best Male Pop Singer Award for 1996. The rising pop star got enough attention to have Bollywood calling. He appeared in a couple of movies, including “Mrityudata” (1997) alongside Amitabh Bachchan. His song “Sadde Naal Rahoge” from the movie proved to be a big hit. Daler Mehndi achieved cult status with “Tunak Tunak Tun” (1998), establishing himself as the leading pop artist in India. It is said that the video pioneered the use bluescreen technology and computer graphics in India, to show dancing clones of Daler Mehndi.
After a string of successful private albums under his belt, Daler Mehndi launched his career as a playback singer in Bollywood. His immensely identifiable voice peps up “Nach Le” from Lakeer and the title track from “Rang De Basanti”. He also lent his voice for “Dhoom Punjabi” the theme song of the Indian Premier League team King's XI Punjab. More recently, he was seen on the silver screen as a musical mentor on the reality show, “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar” on Zee TV.
Daler Mehndi is also known for his philanthropic bent, having established the Daler Mehndi Green Drive to beautify the streets of Delhi, fund raising activities for Kargil War victims, building homes for the earthquake and cyclone affected and various other causes.