Posted by Fenil Seta
What's Pooja Jain, the cringe pop belter of numbers like Selfie... and Swag Wali Topi, like when she's not cruising the streets of Delhi in muscled bikes, taking selfies? A shopaholic, we discover
Jane Borges (MID-DAY; June 18, 2017)
Thirty seconds into our call with Dhinchak Pooja and she already has us at wit's end. The Delhi-based viral sensation, who stumped everyone in May when her Selfie Maine Liya rap exploded the Internet and crossed over 15 million views, has agreed for an interview a month after remaining elusive. When asked if she'd agree to a photo shoot, she says yes. But, there's a catch. Pooja needs to go shopping to the mall first. And if she finds great clothes, she says, she will think about it. When we tell her that's unnecessary, she drawls in Hinglish, "Same kapde nahin pehne hain. Boring ho jayega. Main shopping jaoongi."
She says she will need at least two hours to shop. We manage to switch subject. Like everyone, we are curious about the back-story of this ingenious cringe-pop artiste, who has been compared to Pakistan's Angel aka Tahir Shah.
Dhinchak Pooja recently took to social media to share her real name — Pooja Jain. The 23-year-old, who has a Bachelor degree in Arts from an open university, tells us that she does "nothing" apart from making music. But, if you think she has been topping YouTube charts only now, her musical 'career' actually began last July with Swag Wali Topi. In the video, the self-proclaimed rapper is seen zooming past the streets of Delhi in a BMW and Suzuki Hayabusa with minions tagging along in black tees and caps bearing the 'swag' of their song. That number catapulted her into the viral spotlight, earning her over two million views. Her next song, Daaru, which broke all conventions of music, be it tune or tempo, could kill the worst hangover in minutes. That song managed to rake in five million views since its release in January. Switch to her latest croaky 'selfie' track and we wonder how? "I have been listening to music since I was a child. While I like all kinds of music, I mostly get my inspiration from Bollywood," says Pooja, her favourite being sufi singer Kailash Kher.
She claims to have started writing music three years ago for want of anything better to do. "I first studied how to write lyrics," she says. We are about to ask how, and from who when she cuts in, "Lyrics ka procedure hota hai; You have to know when the main line, second line and chorus come, only then you can write. I studied this procedure properly."
She says, "Some friends heard Swag Wali Topi and they loved it. They encouraged me to make a video." Pooja decided to call herself 'dhinchak' because she says her attitude towards life is entertaining and carefree.
Pooja's father has been instrumental in funding her juvenile fantasies. "Paise ki koi kamin nahin hai. Papa gives me the money. I just have to go and ask," she says, the brattishness unwavering. She, however, refuses to reveal what her father does. "We need privacy," she declares.
The posse of young men, who dance in the videos are acquaintances or relatives. "It's I who decide on the concept, the number of actors and locations for my song. Once that is done, I record the song at a studio, and get a director to shoot it," she says, adding that she also takes auditions for those, who are keen on being part of her projects. Each video takes about three to four months to make. "You can't work continuously…kyunki body ko bhi araam chahiye." When not making music, Pooja is either shopping, partying or chilling with friends.
That people love Pooja's gumption is now well known. Last month, Mumbai boy Sameer Pagare, administrator of the Facebook page, 'Kalyan City Trolls', had managed to convince people that they could catch the 'Swag' singer perform live in Kalyan. Over 7,000 people agreed to show up at that event. "Yes, I read that somebody had made a fake Dhinchak Pooja concert Facebook page in Mumbai, and that 10,000 people agreed to be part of it. You can imagine, how many will show up when I really perform," she says.
Even if she sounds conceited, you can't deny that this confidence comes partially from the approval she has received from social media. She claims to be ignorant of the haters and trolls. "I don't read negative comments about myself. My job is to make music for my fans who like it," she says. "That does not mean I don't take feedback. I have taken all the criticism, and decided to release an even better video in August."
To make it possible, Pooja has been doing riyaaz every day; she has also hired a group of professional dancers and a production team. "Iske baad mera pura kaam sabke saamne aa jayega," she says. "Nobody knows what Dhinchak is really capable of just yet."