India’s Hindi language film industry, also known as Bollywood, is arguably the world’s largest film production centre. Bollywood films are famed for their spectacular mix of dance, flamboyant sets and costumes, and most notably the unique music that combines Indian orchestral instrumentation with (typically) high-pitched female singing. Behind these extravagant soundtracks often lies truly magnificent musicianship that is gaining ever increasing respect and popularity outside India and throughout the world. Bollywood’s rich soundtrack catalog has only started to be heard outside of India in recent years, in perfect timing to grab the attention of western producers who are forever looking for fresh sounds to sample. It’s therefore no surprise to see Bollywood samples cropping up in more and more global chart hits as well as underground hip-hop and electronic music. We’ve sifted through the list of Bollywood samples on the site to bring you the top 10 most notable ones. Ready? Chello!
This massive hit produced by DJ Quik and released in 2002 on Dr. Dre‘s Aftermath label is almost overshadowed by the massive $500 million copyright infringement lawsuit that followed (and was eventually settled out of court). The origin of the sample is a song called ‘Thoda Resham Lagta Hai’, performed by one of Bollywood’s most prolific singers, Lata Mangeshkar, in the 1981 film Jyoti. Quik looped the vocals along with the song’s original percussion and groove to create a sensual, mysterious and psychedelic beat that has stood the test of time.
This entry isn’t on the list just because it was a massive hit and a Grammy award winning song. What’s important here is that even though we’re talking Britney, a super-mainstream artist, this song is a piece of sampling genius. No, seriously. The way Swedish producers Bloodshy and Avant flipped this snippet off ‘Tere Mere Beech Mein’ by Lata Mangeshkar and S. P. Balasubramaniam from the 1981 film Ek Duuje Ke Liye is epic, and makes for an insanely effective pop hook. In order to understand how it was chopped up, check out this YouTube clip.
The Black Eyed Peas are no strangers to sampling (we currently list 91 tracks that they’ve sampled) and they sure like to sample Bollywood. They’ve done it several times, including in the opening to quirky single ‘My Humps‘, but the most memorable example is on Grammy award winning single ‘Don’t Phunk with My Heart’. The song is based around a sample of iconic Bollywood singer Asha Bhosle (yes, she of Brimful of Asha fame) from 1972 film Apradh. The BEP went a step further and sampled the intro for this track from another Bollywood soundtrack, Don. Interestingly, both soundtracks sampled here were composed by the Kalyanji Anandji brothers – seems like Will.i.am & co really wanted to get that vintage 70′s Bollywood action flick sound.
British artist M.I.A., who was born to parents of Sri-Lankan Tamil and Hindu descent, is an artist who can credibly claim to have grown up listening to Bollywood soundtracks. On her sophomore album Kala, released in 2007, she has built on her connection and passion for that music by incorporating Indian music samples into no less than 4 songs on the album, including opening track Bamboo Banga, single Bird Flu, and Timbaland-produced Come Around. Most notably, she has shown her love for Bollywood on the single ‘Jimmy’, a remake of Parvati Khan’s ‘Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja’ from the 1982 film Disco Dancer.
On this joint from 2002′s The Blueprint 2, producer Timbaland employs the vocal talents of Raje Shwari (who he worked with again on ‘Indian Flute‘ with Magoo the following year – incidentally, not a sample from an Indian track even though the lyrics suggest so). Shwari re-sings the vocal hook from ‘Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai’ (which appropriately translates to ‘What’s Behind the Blouse?’) by Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun from the 1993 film Khal Nayak. Her rendition is more understated than the vocal performance on the original recording and, coupled with a bit of clever studio trickery, creates the perfect haunting vocal hook to accompany the chorus. Notably this track also includes the first verse Kanye West ever released as a rapper.
British Drum & Bass/Dubstep production duo Chase & Status love their sampling, and for this 2008 track they mixed elements from the soundtrack to critically-acclaimed 2002 film Devdas with an earth-shattering monster of a bassline, to devastating effect. Now three years after release, the track has established itself as an electronic classic and still gets heavy airplay and club rotation.
The beats on Tricky‘s debut album Maxinquaye almost sounded like they were from another planet when the album came out in 1994, and while that wasn’t entirely true, they did come from some unexpected sources that were forward-thinking for the time. This beat from the soundtrack to 1993′s Khal Nayak forms the perfect background to Tricky’s trademark rasping voice and Martina Topley-Bird‘s stoned singing. Tricky tapped into Indian cinema once more on this album by sampling the beat for Public Enemy cover ‘Black Steel’ from A. R. Rahman‘s soundtrack to Roja. Interestingly, Roja was Rahman’s first soundtrack, launching an illustrious career that took him from his Tamil roots to the top of international cinema, scoring films such as Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours while winning two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe along the way.
Moving back across the Atlantic now to this Method Man single released on Def Jam in 2004. The beat was put together by DJ Scratch, who slowed down a psychy sample of Asha Bhosle and Usha Iyer‘s ‘Dum Maro Dum’ (‘puff, take a puff!’), taken from the soundtrack to Hare Rama Hare Krishna and released in 1971. The film, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, follows an unusual (and hard to follow) plot that criticises the decadence and drug-taking of western hippies in India in the late 60′s. ‘Dum Maro Dum’ was a huge hit in India in the 70′s, and gained cult status to the extent that a new film released in 2011 is named after it, and features an up-to-date remake of the original.
The title track off Erick Sermon‘s 2002 album featured Redman and was produced by Just Blaze, who reworked Asha Bhosle‘s voice in ‘Chandi Ka Badan’ from the 1963 film Taj Mahal into a a hard-hitting hip-hop beat. The verses are as strong as you’d expect from these two legendary MCs, and a creative use of interplay between the raps and the sampled voice makes for a memorable chorus.
Rounding up our list is Mobb Deep‘s 2006 single from the album Blood Money. The track was produced by Profile and is built around a sample from ‘Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aaye’ by Alka Yagnik, Manpreet Akhathar and Udit Narayan, taken from the soundtrack to 1998′s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Instead of choosing a vocal hook from one of the main characters, Profile chops up a choral sequence with parts of the original instrumentation and percussive Bhangra rhythm, resulting in a tough, rolling beat, perfect for Havoc, Prodigy and Young Buck‘s hard gangsta raps.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the list! Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we’ll highlight the other side of the equation: Indian remakes of western hits!