A cocktail of voices from India and Pakistan

Published: July 15, 2012

Arif Lohar and Sahir Ali Bagga tell The Express Tribune about their collaboration on the Bollywood movie soundtrack. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR

Arif Lohar and Sahir Ali Bagga tell The Express Tribune about their collaboration on the Bollywood movie soundtrack. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR
Arif Lohar and Sahir Ali Bagga tell The Express Tribune about their collaboration on the Bollywood movie soundtrack. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR
Arif Lohar and Sahir Ali Bagga tell The Express Tribune about their collaboration on the Bollywood movie soundtrack. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR
Arif Lohar and Sahir Ali Bagga tell The Express Tribune about their collaboration on the Bollywood movie soundtrack. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR
LAHORE: 

Bollywood flick Cocktail has released worldwide amidst a steadily growing build-up — while some of it can be explained by cast member Deepika Padukone’s trendy outfits (and that red bikini!), most of it owes to the soundtrack.

If the songs “Tum Hi Bandhu”and “Daaru Desi” have you tapping your feet, here’s something else that will make you smile: four Pakistani singers – Arif Lohar, Javed Bashir, Imran Aziz Mian and Sahir Ali Bagga – have contributed to the Cocktail soundtrack by giving it a new sound and feel. Arif Lohar, one of the biggest names in Punjabi folk music, tells The Express Tribune that the film has provided a bridge for singers and artists in India and Pakistan. Referring to his famous Punjabi track “Jugni”, Lohar says his track represents Pakistani music in a positive manner. “‘Jugni’ has had many versions,” said Lohar. “The situational context of ‘Jugni’ has been adapted in the past – even my father Alam Lohar had sung the song. But it can have different meanings.”

He added that the soundtrack is important in showcasing the growing stature of Bagga, a young musician with great talent. He also said the involvement of Pakistani singers shows that entertainers from both countries can gain popularity across borders.

Bagga’s entry into Bollywood has started out with a bang. With the launch of Cocktail, music critics in India have appreciated his song “Lutna”. Shedding light on the track, Bagga says it arises out of a sad and controversial situation in the movie that is filmed on Gautam, the character of Saif Ali Khan, and his girlfriends. He said that he wanted to take the modern situation but add a classical touch to it while keeping Pakistan in the loop as well by incorporating beats from the Punjabi-folk song Saiful Malook. “We have kept the Sufi touch to the music which I think represents Pakistan well,” adds Bagga.

In light of his success, Bagga remains optimistic about how his talent could be used in B-town. “It’s an honour to start out in a blockbuster film in comparison to a low quality one. This does not usually happen,” Bagga tells The Express Tribune at his Lahore-based SAB studio. He explains that he earned the opportunity after his success in collaborating with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, as well as the award he received at this year’s London South Asian Film Festival in which he won the best musical talent award for “Koi Dil Mai” from Tamanna.

No visas for these voices

The Cocktail team had planned an unplugged event in India where one would get to see the solidarity of Indian and Pakistani musicians. Unfortunately, the Pakistani singers could not obtain visas for India, and the music launch idea had to be scrapped. Talking about this controversy, Bagga says that creating music in India has become somewhat of an issue for Pakistani artists due to a local license that is a prerequisite. He says that singers like Atif Aslam, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan have been recording outside of India due to legal requirements for artists recording within India.

But Bagga continues to be optimistic about the collaboration. “In music, there is no war,” he says, adding that Pakistani singers are versatile and hence, producers in India have more options when fusing with them.

Lohar feels that visa restriction has nothing to do with music and was “not a big deal”. “The issue was not from the Pakistan government, but every country makes their own rules.  We should be more tolerant in these times because the masses want this [collaboration],” says Lohar.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.

Reader Comments (6)

  • Raza Khan
    Jul 15, 2012 - 9:30PM

    Ambassadors of Peace! We are proud of you & in fact love you. God bless you.

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  • ujwal
    Jul 15, 2012 - 10:32PM

    Jugni has been awesome , i came across this song while watching it in coke studio & have been listening to it since then , but having this track in cocktail was really wonderful, i feel good stuff should reach to the maximum audiences so that they get to know what is a quality music ! I believe contribution of Pakistani musicians have been tremendous in redefining the quality of Bollywood music, else there was a time when one had to listen to crappy music. And one reason for that might be lack of competition in the music industry , now when Pakistani artists are giving their Indian counterparts a run for money some good stuffs are comming from the Indian side too, i love the works of Vishal & Shekhar , Pritam to name a few. I hope with this cocktail success we get to listen to more & more stuff from both side of the divide.

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  • Dear Singers
    Jul 15, 2012 - 11:21PM

    It is not the local license which is prerequisite , It is the fear of security threat . You are most welcome to participate in Indian movies and to earn name and fame , but keep a distance and record your songs outside India .However in today’s globalized world , this is possible .

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  • Aviator
    Jul 16, 2012 - 5:06AM

    Hope to see more Indo-Pak collaborations

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  • MilesToGo
    Jul 16, 2012 - 9:05AM

    When the Jugni was first reported on Dawn, I commented saying this ‘Luhar” guy should be in India and it happened…

    Power of Commenting !!! – :)

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  • Ali T.
    Jul 16, 2012 - 10:05AM

    It is 5 singers actually. Masooma Anwar also sang in it

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