New Delhi: Shah Rukh Khan's highly publicized film 'Ra.One' boasts of ultra modern robots and fine animation technique, in addition to Kareena Kapoor's foot tapping number 'Chammak Challo'.
International pop star Akon is coming to India with 'Chammak Challo'. The presence of Akon's name on the credit list makes the song a potential hit, and its catching up fast too. However, Akon is not the first big international star to feature in Hindi film industry.
The trend of foreign singers lending their voice to Indian numbers had started with stalwarts such as Mehdi Hasan and Ghulam Ali. They ruled the ghazal scenario in India for a long time, till Jagjit Singh, Chandan Das and some others made their entries.
Mehdi Hasan avoided playback singing, but Ghulam Ali accepted BR Chopra's request to sing in 'Nikaah'.
These two singers paved the way for many others to enter the broad Indian music market.
Reshma had become quite a sensation in Pakistan till 1981. Her credits included super popular tracks as 'dama dam mast kalandar' and 'ankhiyon ko rehne de', and thus she was approached by Subhash Ghai, who was looking for a haunting voice for 'Hero'.
The immensely successful song became the anthem of separated lovers and many other foreign singers booked their tickets for Mumbai, the film hub.
Several good voices, inspired by the vocal accomplishments of Reshma and Runa Laila appeared on the scene but none of them became the golden voice to look out for.
Then arrived one of the greatest singers of all time, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The phenomenal success of his non commercial albums earned him the respect and place in the industry as the most sought after musician in Bollywood.
He hit the bull's eye with the film music too. 'Aur Pyar Ho Gaya', 'Kachche Dhaage', 'Kartoos', 'Bandit Queen', 'Dillagi' and 'Dhadkan', whatever he touched as singer or composer turned into gold.
Moderately popular Samantha Fox also came to India during mid 90's, on the invitation of Bappi Lahiri. She sang in the Govinda-starrer Rock Dancer, but the song and the film, both flopped. An era finished with the unexpected demise of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
The new epoch began in the new millennium and a whole new breed of NRI singers started to gain ascendance throughout the world.
Some of them decided to feature in Bollywood. Adnan Sami, the famous pianist, get all the right breaks and hogged the limelight initially but soon other singers such as Veronica, Rishi Rich, and Jay Sean sang to the tunes of Indian composers. Anu Malik directed them in 'Kya Kool Hai Hum'. Snoop Dogg sang for Akshay Kumar's 'Singh is King' as per the notes of music director Pritam.
Music maestro A.R. Rahman is also introducing Italian-Canadian singer Natalie Di Luccio in Imtiaz Ali's upcoming film 'Rockstar'. Rahman is known for his unusual choice of singers, and thus Natalie Di Luccio is sure to be noticed at least.
As far as the Indian film music industry and role of foreigners in it is concerned, Pakistanis dominated the scene.
Firstly, it was Strings, then Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and then Atif Aslam. These three associated with Adnan Sami hoisted the Pakistani flag higher than ever.
Now, when a singer of Akon's stature has landed, this might be another turning point for foreign singers' in India, as these international stars are constantly looking for new markets. The continuously emerging global market of India could be the platform they are searching for.
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