One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to talk to people who love Bollywood, be it directors, actors, producers, singers, music directors, fans and many others. We all are in this field because we love the movies and the music. Two of the people I really love to talk Bollywood with are Raj and Pablo because they LOVE Bollywood so much. The Bollyfab duo host a radio show on the BBC Asian Network titled Love Bollywood, where they dish, interview, review, play tunes and talk all things Bollywood. Now they are adding another layer to their Bolly-platform, could we say, and that is a compilation CD titled Love Bollywood. This double CD,of 33 of the best songs from Hindi films will not only appeal to those of us who are Bollyobsessed but is also for newcomers to the magic of Bollywood and it’s fab music. Raj, Pablo and I sat down to talk Love Bollywood – the CD and once again we got to chatting and could not stop! Check out our Bollytastic conversation full of Bollylove.
Pablo told us all about this exciting new project, “It is our second compilation called Love Bollywood by Raj and Pablo. It is a double CD and basically is tracks that Raj and I adore and really want to share with everybody.”
The idea is that the double CD will be for everyone; not only Bollywood fans, but also newcomers to the genre will love it as well. Raj explained, “The biggest thing for us is that one of the largest record companies, EMI, approached us to get this together because they want to break into the non-Asian market as well with Bollywood. The whole concept is that all who watch Bollywood films they will enjoy it. It is also accessible for everyone who knows about Bollywood, but doesn’t know how to get into Bollywood – the songs, the music, the dance. When we first had the preliminary meeting with the EMI lot, they were like okay we know about Bollywood, we know about the movies but what exactly is it? Give us an insight. So, what we have done with this double CD is to give people an anchor, so they can like okay, this is a nice song, this is a good song.” He added,”Playing the sampler of the CD to people who have never really listened to a Bollywood song, it was interesting, what surprised them was how accessible Bollywood and Bollywood music is.”
We also talked about how Bollywood is coming out more into the mainstream market. “Before it was like Bollywood and the Indian music industry used to borrow influences from the West or Indian music was filtered down to the West as like classical stuff. Now Bollywood has got a life of its own and a genre of its own that is accessible to everyone,” says Raj. Pablo added, “You just have to look at what has been happening since Slumdog Millionaire and from Shilpa Shetty being in the Big Brother house, AR Rahman, all the things that he has achieved. It is kind of a natural process where the world is beginning to share it with us.”
How would they describe Bollywood music to someone who does not know? Raj thinks, “It is music that touches your soul. It is what Hollywood used to do in the sense like the energy the exuberance, the all singing, all dancing and having songs that evoke an emotion or a memory. Or if you want to feel happy or sad.” Pablo agrees, “Bollywood music is different things to different people. It does evoke a certain type of emotion and if you are having a great day it will make you feel like dancing. If you having a day where you kind of want to reflect and listen to this massive orchestra and some beautiful lyrics you can. I think it is all things to everybody.”
Raj also made the point that you don’t need to know Hindi to enjoy the music. Adding one of the best things is that it covers a vast range of musical styles, “If you are into Indian classical stuff as a non-Asian, the whole kind of symphonies etc. they are there, but if you just want to go to a club and dance to ‘Dhan Te Nan’ or whatever that is there is well. Bollywood is all encompassing in its love.”
The Bollytastic boys certainly had a hard road when they started this project because they had so many songs they wanted to include. “We started off with about 200 and had to whittle it down to 33. It was difficult but we couldn’t have done it without really feeling the music and getting emotional about it,” Pablo explained. “A lot of the songs we have picked on the CD, it wasn’t just because this really sounds great, let’s put it on there. For us, putting the CD together was an emotional journey. It was literally sitting there listening to the songs and feeling what kind of emotion is it evoking within us. Then thinking about how is this going to evoke emotion in other people. Really this is so close to our heart because we have put so much of ourselves in it.” Raj concurred, “We have put our souls into it. We really felt like a typical Bollytastic mother from a movie getting rid of her children because we had to reject so many.”
But they persevered and brought together a range of songs from ballads; to grand epics to hip-hop to dance… as we said Bollywood is all encompassing, “With the compilation if you want the heart wrenching string orchestra it is there. If you want the big disco beats its there, if you want the Punjabi feel with ‘Singh is Kingg’ that is there. There is something for everyone.”
There was one song Raj had to convince Pablo about…’Deedar De’ from Dus: Raj,”I really wanted that song and he went no, no, no, no, no.” Pablo, “But then Raj said to me, look, live with it, play it and if you don’t agree with it we won’t put it on.” Raj told him to listen to it first thing in the morning, “Just put that song on and see how you feel the rest of the day because a Bollywood song can set your agenda for the rest of the day and he loved it.”
Getting into some other specific songs, they both say they love ‘Shukran Allah’ from Kurbaan and that had to go on the CD. Another was ‘Tere Liye’ from Veer Zaara; Raj explained a bit about the history behind that track, “We love ‘Tere Liye’ from Veer Zaara because of the whole emotions and Lata Mangeshkar singing a composition that was 40 years old by Madan Mohan.” They also agreed that the best chill out song on the CD is ‘Tu Muskura’ from Yuvvraaj.
The CD certainly includes tracks to get you dancing around your room or office or kitchen in Pablo’s case, “CD-1 starts of with Deewangi (OSO), comes into ‘Dhan Te Nan’ (Kaminey) and then there is ‘Marjaani’ (Billu Barber) and then there is ‘Discowale Khisko’ from Dil Bole Hadippa. Those are all songs that literally have us dancing around our kitchens while we are cooking and we must play it when we do our club night. They all kind of energize you.”
Another cool thing is the look of the CD case, which is full-on bling Bolly-ishstyle, Pablo says that was really important to both of them to get it just right, “For us it was really important to make sure the way the CD looked was really representative of Bollywood. So, when you hold the cover you feel like you are holding something special, when you look in the booklet you will be able to look at a lot of pictures are there of the stars. We are hoping that people who haven’t watched any of the movies when they listen to the music they will really enjoy it and that will make them want to go watch the movie where it will take it 10 folds further.”
I stumped them a bit by asking what song from the CD has the best picturisation in the movie. Raj replied with, “they are all magical”, but if you are a Raj and Pablo fan you can guess whom Pablo mentioned, “They are, but I have to say for me it has to be ‘Deewangi Deewangi’ from Om Shanti Om. It’s purely because in like 5 minutes you get to see all of your favorite Bollywood stars especially when Rekha makes her appearance.”
We also talked about ‘Zoobi Doobi’ from 3 Idiots. Raj treated me with a rendition, “zoobi doobi doobi do doo… Love that one as well. Especially the umbrella scene. You know what, the ‘Zoobi Doobi’ song that is really reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood… the way that was actually picturised, filmed, the lushness of it. Also referring to the great age of Raj Kapoor, the rain sequences with him and Nargis.” Adding, “The exciting thing for us was that last week Elaine Page picked up on the CD and she played ‘Zoobi Doobi’ on her show, which is all about Broadway theater and started singing along.”
Talking about how Hindi film music has changed over the years Pablo shared a cool story with us, “We were interviewing Asha Bhosle and just talking about the whole mechanics of recording a song now. She was talking to us about the times when you would come into a studio and you would have the whole orchestra. You would have everything live and you would have to sing the song right from the beginning to the end in one take and get it perfect. Whereas now, a lot of things are electronic and they can be put on computer and so sometime she only has to sing a line once it can be played again. So, I think it terms what has developed in terms of technology it has allowed for a lot more adventure within music.”
However, Raj thinks that this progress has made music loose some of its richness today,”But on the other level where it has lost and this is my opinion, not Pablo’s or Asha Bhosle’s or anything, it has lost its warmth. That is what I would say anyway. The melodies are there, the all singing all dancing is there but it has lost its warmth. That is why I like AR Rahman because despite being the electronic whiz kid he still has kept a lot of warmth.” Pablo is not so sure, “I kind of disagree with Raj. I think it hasn’t lost its warmth, but what I think that has happened, just like everybody else, the Bollywood industry is so huge we have kept up with modern technology. We have adapted and learned to become more experimental giving us wonderful music like Kaminey did with ‘Dhan Te Nan’, which I think is a phenomenal track. It sounds very modern at the same time has got this real sensibility to it. You know no matter what happens and how we do move on with technology I don’t think Bollywood will ever loose its essence.”
Going on with the thought of how Bollywood has grown, Raj said, “You know like that Snoop Dog song from Singh is Kingg, it is coming from a different angle of Bollywood. Bollywood is now incorporating everything that is going on… from urban sounds of America as well and that works.”
What do they think has been the best decade for Bollywood music? All of them! “I think each decade kind of holds a story. Growing up when I was hearing music from the 80s and the early 90s it was about what I was going through in my life, but at the same time now, in terms of the musical style, it is reflective of what is going on in my life now,” Pablo said. “It is difficult to say which is the best decade because, and this is why Bollywood is so encompassing, is that every decade there has been something for everybody. Raj thinks that all the decades are linked, “For me, it is exactly like Pablo says but from a different perspective. I love Ella Fitzgerald, I love all the jazz stuff…all of that era, that is what the early Lata and Asha, the 50-60s symbolizes for me. When I am in that mood I will put an old Lata song next to an Ella song and mix and match. ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu’ or ‘Aayiye Meharbaan’ from Howrah Bridge next to Ella or Nat King Cole. Then you get to like SD Burman, RD Burman and now AR Rahman everything is linked.”
Finally we get to the Fast track, which I asked them to say the first thing…
Favorite Singer: Asha Bhosle. All time favorite song: For Pablo it is ‘Tune O Rangeela’ from Kudrat and for Raj it is ‘Kabhi Kabhi’. Title song that was perfect for a movie: ‘Bachna Ae Hasseno’ (Laughs) Favorite music director: RD Burman. Worst song ever: For them both it was ‘Man ka Radio’ from the film Radio. Raj sings.. Man Ka Radiooo. Best lip syncher: Need I say Pablo choose Rekha and Raj went with Kajol: “because when she is actually lip synching there is expression in her eyes as well”. Favorite OST: Raj and Pablo’s Love Bollywood Compilation (laughs!)
Then we got to first Song that comes to mind when you think of Bollywood…Pablo says for him the song plus the picturisation of ‘Inhi Logon’ Ne from Pakeezah with Meena Kumari. “I remember watching it with my family going WOW! I played that song about a hundred times – rewinding the video again and again. It just kind of captured something. Phenomenal.” Raj went with a classic too with a song from Mughal-e-Azam, “For me, it was when was a young whipper snapper. It was really late at night and I was watching TV and they played Mughal-e-Azam as the Bollywood equivalent of Gone with the Wind. I remember sitting there with the family and thinking, God I want to go to sleep. This is so boring this is so historical. I was about 9 or 10 but then that ‘Jab pyaar kiya toh darna kya…‘; and it was in color and I was mesmerized. Madhubala… I was just like WOW.”
In closing, the Bollyrific guys told me about the last song on the Love Bollywood CD, Pablo, “The last song on the CD is ‘Thoda Sa Pyar Hua Hai’, – Maine Dil Tujhka Diya.” Raj breaks into song once more, “Thoda sa pyaaaaar… That is the ultimate Bollywood love song for us at the moment. The film wasn’t a hit, but we just loved it. Sameera Reddy, Sohail Khan and there are reasons we chose that for the end.” Pablo explains, “Basically if you listen to the lyrics, ‘thoda sa pyaar hua hai, thoda hai baaqi‘ that means this isn’t the end. We have given you all this much love. We have loads more to come yet!”
Raj and Pablo also have a YouTube channel to accompany the album and they are going to have many of the videos of the songs that are on the Love Bollywood CD. Check out the video for ‘Thoda Sa Pyaar’.
Be sure and get your copy today of some of Bollywood’s BEST tunes handpicked by the Bollybest boys Raj and Pablo, it is in stores in the UK and Ireland today! Be sure and check out Steven’s chat with them about the album here for more! Oh and check out their new website too!