Pakistani songs are beloved not only to Pakistanis. Whether it’s the timeless contributions of late icons such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Nazia Hasan or the current sensation of artists like Ali Sethi and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, our singers and musicians have filled us with immense pride and continue to do so.
The sad truth is that Bollywood unabashedly appropriates songs from various countries, sometimes without acknowledging their origins. Oftentimes these are blatant replicas or artfully modified lyrics, or slight deviations or seamless imitations. Regardless, it has persistently engaged in replication throughout its existence – with some music directors copying entire compositions, and others making a tried effort to incorporate segments from foreign songs to establish their own recognition.
While there is a huge collection of Indian songs that have been “inspired” by Pakistani musicians, spanning nearly six decades, but our countdown consists of some of the most popular ones.
‘Halka Halka Suroor’
It’s an established fact that the musical genius Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s songs go beyond borders and continue to be cherished to this day, evidencing that the late qawwal revolutionised the universe of qawwali. Despite numerous remixes of his popular tracks being created since his death, Fanney Khan’s rendition stands out as the most disconcerting one yet.
Starring Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the movie showcases the latter adopting an American persona while mouthing along to Sunidhi Chauhan’s performance, which detracts from the essence of the Shehensha-e-Qawwali’s legendary ‘Halka Halka Suroor’.
The famous Punjabi song by Abrarul Haq was brutally terrorised for the Bollywood movie Jugjugg Jeeyo (2022. Originally made for 2002 Pakistani movie Kaun Banega Karorpati, every 90s kid remembers the original dance version.
The replication also led to legal chaos between Karan Johar and Haq.
Hassan Jahangir’s original ‘Hawa Hawa’ of the 1980s captivated fans with its upbeat, lively tune. Even today, many young people fondly remember the song and often groove to it during mehndi celebrations. However, the release of the new version for the 2017 Bollywood film Mubarkan took us all by surprise — and not in a good way.
With Mika Singh on the mic for the Arjun Kapoor-starrer, the new ‘Hawa Hawa’ was a musical disaster. The song had been severely mishandled, resembling a molten lava cake. Only instead of molten chocolate, molten metal seemed to have been pouring out into our ears.
The popular Bollywood film Student Of The Year (2012) featured ‘The Disco Song’ that was not a mere striking resemblance to Pakistani pop sensation Nazia and Zoheb Hassan’s 1981 dance anthem for the youth ‘Disco Deewane’.
The Bollywood version was a definite copy of the original composition. What was a timeless song for Pakistan’s music industry and a turning point in Nazia’s career was shattered into pieces with the new version.
‘Tujhe Bhoolna Toh Chaha’
Did you know that ‘Tujhe Bhoolna Toh Chaha’ by Jubin Nautiyal and Rochak Kohli (2021) was also copied from Pakistani Coke Studio favourite Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi’s ‘Tujhe Bhoolna Toh Chaha’ (2013). The latter may not be familiar to most, but we I’m sure that few will miss the unmistakable beat in the background. The song, right down to the lyrics, was lifted from Pakistani music.
While the popularity of most of these replicas can be attributed to India’s far larger market, the recent case of ‘Pasoori’ proves that Pakistani music is more than capable of standing on its own legs. ‘Pasoori’ blew up, topped charts, and allowed Pakistani singers to make global waves. The lyrics were changed beyond recognition, but the music is eerily the same. ‘Pasoori’ was a song that didn’t need a remake at all.
The purpose of this article is not to stir any sort of hatred between the two countries — I’m all for cultural and artistic exchange. However, music is considered to be one of the most integral parts of the Indian film industry yet somehow, a lot of the ‘finest’ Bollywood musicians have eased the whole process to two simple steps — copy and paste.