I’m a British-born Indian and, over the past 10-15 years at least, have immersed myself mostly in what I suppose would be deemed Western (with generous sprinklings of “world”) music.

It's like Hollywood, but with a "B"...

From time to time, though, I’ll go to an event, or a family gathering, or even just a club, that’ll remind me just how much I love Bollywood/Bhangra/other music of Asian origin.

It happened  at my cousin’s wedding a couple of weeks ago  (first cousin – not dad’s uncle’s sister-in-law’s nephew’s daughter’s aunt on the other side…) so I thought I’d post about some of my personal favourites from a few specific sub-genres.

GHAZALS – Originally a form of Arabic poetry dealing explicitly with the theme of unattainable love, the popularity of Ghazals was boosted in the 1960s by artists such as Ravi Shankar and later in the 80s by accomplished Bollywood playback singer Pankaj Udhas. The below is a personal favourite, with opening lyrics that translate to “Your complexion is like silver, your tresses like gold”:

Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera (Last.fm)

BOLLYWOOD SOUNDTRACKS – The term “Bollywood” is often used as a collective term to refer to the entire Indian film industry, and the soundtracks typically comprise songs performed (i.e. lip-synched by the actors to a pre-recorded playback track) in full within the movie. I’m a bit of a nineties Bollywood fan so the tracks below are from films of that period:

Kehna Hi Kya – Featured in the award-winning 1995 film, Bombay, with songs by Slumdog Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman
Taal Se Taal – Performed by Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan and Sukhwinder Singh in 1999 movie, Taal
Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye – Sung by Kumar Sanu and Sadhana Sargam for the movie Jurm, 1990.
Chaiyya Chaiyya – Another A.R.Rahman soundtrack, this time performed by Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasti for 1998 movie Dil Se and a bit of a modern Bollywood classic.

All very theatrical and dramatic…

BHANGRA – It’s all about the beats. It started as a form of Punjabi folk dance in celebration of a sikh festival, the key feature being the rhythm of the dhol drum and other percussion, but Bhangra has developed over the past years into sample-infused, remix-loaded dance music incorporating hip-hop, reggae, jungle, garage and other Western influences. Some favourites from the weekend’s DJ…Read more