Raj Dhanda and Pablo Sat-Bhambra, more popularly known as Raj and Pablo, are a multi-talented, Bollywood triple threat: Radio Presenters, Club DJs and Film Writers. Whether it is playing host to Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol promoting My Name Is Khan in the UK, or spinning film tunes at their monthly London club night, the BBC Asian Network presenters have firmly established themselves in the industry. In the past ten years, the two have played an important role in opening the doors of Bollywood to mainstream audiences. Dynamic, informed, passionate and fun, BollySpice caught up with our favourite Bollywood duo since Jai and Veeru, to chat about their new compilation album, ‘Love Bollywood’, music, an exclusive bit of news and more.
How did you select the tracks that have made it to the final cut of the album?
R: Do you know what, it was originally 40, but when we went to master it with the EMI people, they said: ‘Hold on a minute, there are only 80 minutes on one CD’. So it’s now only 33.
P: You know how long Bollywood songs are. It was really difficult because we brought it down from 200 to 42, and from there 40, and from there we had to whittle it down even further.
R: We felt like a Bollywood mother losing her infants. We had to kill our babies.
P: These tracks are ones we adore that we want to share with everyone.
Did you have any X Factor judge moments where you argued as to what was going to go through?
P: We won’t name the track, but there was one moment…
R: (Laughs) More than one.
P: Where Raj and I looked at each other. He really wanted it on there, but we sat down and went through what feels natural next, and what went with the feel of the album, so it had to go.
Who is the album for?
R: It’s for Bollywood lovers, but it’s also for people who have never encountered Bollywood. It’s their access point to come in. So the tracks that we chose are the ones that work on our club night and tracks that our listeners like, and above all, what we felt was good as well.
P: If we didn’t feel the music we probably couldn’t do it any justice. So hopefully the listeners will enjoy it.
How did you choose some of the vintage tracks?
R: There were so many. This was really difficult, we didn’t know how far to go back. Do you go back to ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya’ from Mughal-e-Azam, which we love.
P: We even contemplated putting on some tracks from Pakeezah, which is one of our favourite albums. Or is that another album within itself?
R: But with this album, what we wanted to do was to give a good introduction. Hence we choose something like ‘Dum Maro Dum’ which is a classic. Plus we love Asha Bhosle, and she gave us our big ashirwad for this album as well, which was really sweet. Then there is ‘Roop Tera Mastana’, which is Kishore Kumar; as we wanted to pay homage to the greats, and also great moments in cinema, but keep it current as well.
P: ‘Roop Tera Mastana’ is a very sexy song, so it was important that we kept that in there. The few classic songs are timeless really.
R: So you can be a hippy-shippy dancing to ‘Dum Maro Dum’ and then you can seduce to Kishore Kumar.
Who is your favourite playback singer?
R: Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. They are Goddesses, the true icons of Bollywood. Their voices, even now, just electrify.
P: Yes. But you know what, when Himesh Reshammiya’s music first came onto the scene – I know it’s got that pop formula to it, but it used to work wonderfully in the clubs. After Radio I think he lost a bit of direction. I hope he comes back with something cracking because he has got a distinctive voice and I think he understands music.
When you listen to ‘Milenge Milenge’ you remember how good he was.
R: Exactly. That came out as a new film but with an old soundtrack, and suddenly you are like ‘Wow’. Which if it had been released at the time it had meant to release, it would have been lost.
Would you choose the song based on how it sounds, the picturisation, or the success of the film?
P: A combination of everything. Our mark on it is basically how we feel about the song, if that makes sense. It is not necessarily to do with whether the picture did well at the box office. It is just about the emotions the song evoked in us, and the response we have had from our club night and our show. Collectively we felt this is a good representation of where we are at in terms of Bollywood and what we feel.
R: And also for example Main Aur Mrs Khanna didn’t do well, but Preity Zinta is in her essence when she dances to ‘Happening’.
P: Same with Yuvraaj, the film didn’t do that well, but the song sticks with you and makes an impression, which is why we have included it in the compilation.
It’s said that you can have a hit album to a flop film, but never a flop album to a hit film.
R: Totally. I totally agree with that. It’s true actually. I’m trying to think what hit films have had flop albums.
P: I was just trying to run it through my mind, where the music has been terrible but the film has been great.
R: There hasn’t been one. I like that quote, it is food for thought.
Which song is the best to dance to?
R: It changes every day, but today is ‘Deedar De’- I’m in that kind of mood.
P: I think the track ‘Deewangi Deewangi’ from Om Shanti Om kind of encapsulates the essence of Bollywood. If you think about it all the Bollywood stars are in there. If you watch the film and you hear the song, you almost picturise every Bollywood star coming in and out of it.
R: If you have never watched a Bollywood movie in your life that is the best film, and the best introduction from the album. For anybody who wants to get into Bollywood watch Om Shanti Om, it’s got the golden age of Bollywood and the modern, reincarnation, and all the stars of course.
Which is the most romantic song on the album?
R: ‘Tere Liye’ from Veer Zaara. Or – like we said – about a film that did not do very well, ‘Thoda Sa Pyar Hua Hai’ (Raj sings the first line) with Sameera Reddy and Sohail Khan from Maine Dil Tujha Diya. It’s such a wonderful romantic song, like early Hollywood.
P: It’s the last track on the second CD. It finishes the album off, but if you listen to the lyrics: ‘You have just fallen in love, but there is a lot more to come yet’, it is our way of saying thank you – but just wait for the next one.
We love the album design. How did you come up with it?
P: We were quite hands on with it. The heart had to be there because it is ‘love’, and Bollywood is all about glamour so the gold had to come in. Raj and I have always said this – it is about the glitz and the glam – and when you look at the album you get that, and it has to make you feel like that.
R: It’s the largest film industry in the world. It touches a chord with us and it touches a chord with millions of non-Asians. What it is about is the glamour that Hollywood used to do it in the 40s and 50s, but does not do anymore. What we’re trying to do with the album, with the design and the concept, is provide some of that joy.
P: Unashamedly. We are wearing the T-shirt for Bollywood.
When are we going to see you in front of the camera?
R: This is a BollySpice exclusive!
P: We interviewed John Abraham for Jhootha Hi Sahi and the interview will be played on our show Love Bollywood on BBC Asian Network on October 23rd. When we were interviewing him he had some news for us. He is coming here to film Desi Boyz with Akshay Kumar and he very kindly told us that there is a role that is for Raj and Pablo playing Raj and Pablo!
R: He actually shouted it out! ‘Listen you guys always do interviews with me, where you are asking all these questions and having a laugh but now I am going to shut you both up! Guess what is happening…’
Then I guess there was dead silence
P: We were like what???
R: This is just news for BollySpice. The film is about two guys in London, and I am not going to divulge anything else but Raj and Pablo will be playing Raj and Pablo.
‘Love Bollywood’ will be released in the UK and Ireland on Monday October 25. To be in with a chance of winning your very own copy, enter our exclusive BollySpice competition here.
But wait there is more! Check out the ad for the Love Bollywood CD, another exclusive! Plus, there is even more from the boys in part 2, and we put them on the Fast Track hot seat so check back for more!