The Emergence of Pakistani Singers in Bollywood

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In the past couple of years the Bollywood Film Industry was pleasantly surprised by the rising success of Pakistani singers. A whole new musical experience was presented to the listeners and the acceptance was overwhelming. There is enough reason to believe that a Sufi influence song can work its magic and make an album a great success. It was back in 2003 when a small budget movie in the name of Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II starring Arshad Warsi was released. Does it ring a bell? No. Well that’s not surprising as the movie itself wasn’t a success but it did introduce the now successful singer, Kailash Kher who became an overnight sensation after his debut song “Allah Ke Bande”. A year later, in 2004, in Pooja Bhatt’s directorial venture, Paap, a Pakistani artist named Ali Azmat was introduced who composed the background music. In the Paap album, a song that was immensely popular was “Mann Ki Lagan” and what made the song a winner was the reminiscent voice of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Being the nephew of the legendary and late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has his own distinctive and mesmorizing voice that enthralled listeners. Following the success of “Mann Ki Lagan”, Pakistani singers have proven to be a good luck charm for the Bhatt camp. From Zeher to Gansgster, their music albums have been great hits regardless of the fate of the movie and at times it was the success of the music that drove people to watch the movie. Besides the Bhatts, Madhur Bhandarkar in his recent directorial venture, Corporate, included a Sufi rendition of the song “O Sikandar” sung by Kailash Kher. And how can we forget about Karan Johar who joined the Sufi trend and gave us “Mitwa” sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan (lead singer of the Pakistani band, Fuzon) in his Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Needless to say that both were chartbusters.

The question now is why this sudden entry of Pakistani singers? What is it about their singing that captivates listeners? The Bollywood music front hasn’t been able to bring out any distinctive elements in their music lately, it has been more about countless remixes of one song which in the end lacks originality and gets quite repetitive. On the other hand, Pakistani singers have really improved and progressed in recent times and has a distinctive charm in their singing. They bring out their own cultural flavours in their songs. Unfortunately, they are unable to get the needed exposure in their country and thus are always on the lookout for bigger and better opportunities and Bollywood is that opportunity, that platform that will give them their deserved exposure. What Pakistani singers brought to the Bollywood music front was uniqueness and that made them succeed. Today, anything with a Sufi influence guarantees success in Hindi movies. It is still unknown if this new trend is just another passing phase or not but one thing is clear, that we will be hearing many more of Sufi influenced music in the near future.

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