It’s always fun to work with AR Rahman: Shiraz Uppal

Published: June 12, 2013
Uppal sings the title track of Bollywood film, Raanjhanaa.

Uppal sings the title track of Bollywood film, Raanjhanaa.

Uppal sings the title track of Bollywood film, Raanjhanaa. Uppal sings the title track of Bollywood film, Raanjhanaa. DESIGN: SAMRA AAMIR

It is no surprise that an increasing number of talented Pakistani singers are now making their way to Bollywood. From Adnan Sami Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam, it seems like  the Indian film industry is giving these singers their due credit.

Such is the case with our pop singer, Shiraz Uppal, as well. After a short hiatus last year, Uppal has now made a powerful comeback with an upcoming B-town film. He lent his voice to the title track of Anand L Rai’s upcoming movie, Raanjhanaa; the music of which has been composed by the famous AR Rahman.

Due to release on June 21, the film stars Dhanush of Kolaveri Di fame and Sonam Kapoor.

Raanjhanaa – the song

“I am very excited about the track. It’s always fun to do a song with AR Rahman,” says Uppal, who was contacted by Rahman for the title track. “I love his arrangement and composition.” For Rahman, this soundtrack silences those who were lamenting the monotony of Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Ek Deewana Tha.

Uppal shares that Rahman has always inspired him and the two have teamed up on various occasions. More recently, at the One World Peace concert held in New York, the two shared the stage with other leading artists such as Dave Mathews, Natasha Bedingfield, Philip Philips, Cyndi Lauper and others. Uppal has previously also sung soundtracks composed by Rahman for Bollywood film Nayak and Tamil movie Boys.

Uppal says that the main track, which has energetic lyrics by Irshad Kamil, is melodious with a classical touch, but is also upbeat and fresh. “He [Kamil] is one of my favourite lyricists; I really like his poetry,” says Uppal. “The song has a classical tune. Singing it was a lot of fun since I haven’t done a song which is classical and fast at the same time.”

Work in Bollywood

Uppal says that his focus will be on films and he is planning a visit to India in the coming weeks to promote the soundtrack. He feels that collaboration between Pakistan and India is a positive approach. “I think the work being done in India is of very high quality,” says Uppal. “Seeing Pakistani artists there means a lot, since it’s a big platform.”

His own focus has always been biased towards making music for films, despite the fact that he has done four pop albums, as well. “I have always wanted to make music for films,” shares Uppal. “I like to see my songs being played on the big screen.”

Uppal explains that Bollywood has shifted from traditional sounding music and has now become more experimental. He also says that experiments with music occurred in every era, but not all types of music succeed.

“The real test is whether the public accepts this type of music,” says Uppal. “The one which is accepted becomes a trend.”

“Pakistani pop music has been popular for many years,” explains Uppal, adding that music trends are changing in films. “If you look at the music being produced in Indian or Pakistani films, it’s more towards pop.”

Uppal feels that Pakistani music has always been of great standards. He also believes that the latest trend in music for Pakistani films is very beneficial for the country’s music industry. He produced the track Hona Tha Pyar for the original soundtrack of Bol and would like to do more projects like that.

“I would love to do it if someone is interested,” says Uppal. “But I don’t go out searching for work; I only work on merit.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Sohail
    Jun 12, 2013 - 10:26PM

    This hypocrite was the same person who declared ‘music is haram’ and that he was to become a molana like Junaid Jamshed after doing ‘tauba’ during his hiatus. In Pakistan, HYPOCRISY RULES!


  • Hilarious
    Jun 12, 2013 - 11:04PM

    You have to come to India in search of work .There is no way out for you. Either Your country can’t give you a platform to perform or your society is not suitable for this .We are thankful to our founding fathers of country who led us in a right way right from birth to a modern country. Jai Hind!!!


  • sana
    Jun 12, 2013 - 11:24PM

    It is good to see our singers doing so well in Bollywood. The challenge now should be to replicate that success in our film industry too.


  • Aamir - Toronto
    Jun 13, 2013 - 12:39AM


    You’re just being sarcastic like any ordinary Indian who is blinded by hatred towards Pakistanis……no matter how modern is your country but we are still lot better than you guys.


  • Shanawar Hashmi
    Jun 13, 2013 - 12:52AM

    Our founding father, Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah did direct us to the right way. Others that followed him led us astray.


  • The Khan-Waterloo,Ontario
    Jun 13, 2013 - 1:19AM

    Yeah okay. Why the need to write that in a Pakistani newspaper?


  • PakArmySoldier
    Jun 13, 2013 - 6:42AM

    What a moronic comment. Shows the quality of education you received. Do you consider foreign multinationals in India “looking for work” as well. It’s a reciprocal transaction. Your Bollywood directors are bending over backwards to have our singers lend their voice to them. In fact, India’s indigenous music industry is under great threat. That’s why every so often you local singers throw an anti-Pakistan hissy-fit.


  • 357
    Jun 13, 2013 - 9:40AM

    I bob my head in agreement!


  • bilal
    Jun 13, 2013 - 9:48AM

    amazing vocalist. shiraz way to go bro


  • Satyamurthy
    Jun 13, 2013 - 11:02AM

    I welcome pakistanis in indian film industry.wish pakistani artist all the best.


  • Jadoon
    Jun 13, 2013 - 11:22AM

    @Hilarious: I can smell something burning…………


  • Ravi
    Jun 13, 2013 - 12:39PM

    @Aamir – Toronto:
    In what way???? lol


  • rahul
    Jun 13, 2013 - 2:08PM

    Most pakistani friends forget that MOST CREATIVE work in Music is creating Tunes and Lyrics, Which Indian musicans are doing for last 80 years. Today its pakistani singers , tomo we ll employ western or even bangaldeshi singers also but the CORE music will be done by Indians. Thats the reason why Our fil industry has lasted for 100yrs, and paksitan does not have film industry. One thing I have noticed is that , even if pakistan people benefit from any country , they hardly appreciate that. They (Pakistani’s) are only blowing their own trumpet.So even after 65 years they could not stand on their own le , always begging someone.


  • Indian
    Jun 13, 2013 - 2:35PM

    From **Adnan Sami Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam**, it seems like the Indian film industry is giving these singers their due credit.

    And I am a fan of ???? lolRecommend

  • Amer
    Jun 13, 2013 - 5:38PM

    This is the same guy who was saying different things just an year back. Please don’t compare him with Junaid Jamshed. JJ never changed his stance after he reverted in the late 1990s.


  • Mustafa
    Jun 13, 2013 - 5:41PM

    Why do Indians read this newspaper???
    Go read times of India…you’ve got a lot on your plates to talk about!
    we’ll deal with our probs, thank you for the comments…
    shiraz is fine singing for rahman; rahman likes to work with him…both parties are pretty content…what the hay’s your issue?


  • Ali
    Jun 13, 2013 - 6:07PM

    Well done Shiraz and others Pakistanis in India…. and thanks India for giving our singers a good platform, it just shows that talent is appreciated in that industry regardless of where it comes from, after all the films are about making money and you need to have new, fresh and good talent for that… if Paki film industry ever kicks off again (some green shoots there) these guys will come back with good experience and lots of contacts to increase production levels.

    The other bitter Pakis and Indians should just take a chill pill!


  • PakistaniFirst
    Jun 13, 2013 - 6:43PM

    Very difficult to replicate the same success as bollywood. Most of the film industry is under the heavy influence of dakyanusi directors/producers. There are some good ones too. Lack of investment in good equipment and general lack of talent in media is the core issue. Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of talented media people in Pakistan but they have no incentive to work in Lollywood in particular. If you can address why that is, you have taken the first step to solving the problem.


  • Hamza
    Jun 14, 2013 - 8:28PM

    Ugh so true man, this is purely Pakistani, they should get moderated.


    1) if you are talking about 100 years of cinema, Pakistan was formed 70 years ago, so we shared 30 years with you. 80 years of your music industry we shared 10 years with you. Your industry is not purely Indian, it’s foundation was also laid by what is now Pakistan, in fact in a theory, it say the subcontinent film industry was started in Lahore (just a theory don’t know what is true)

    2) for all those who say Indian singers are better, dude Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is known to have had the FINEST VOICE ever in this whole planet. Singers like Jeff Buckly, Bono, Bojrk, Eddy Vedder and many famous singers are inspired by him. Of coarse Lata Mangeshkar is good, but not better than Ustad Nusrat, there are more singers better than your singers (don’t get me started with Himesh)

    3) Our founding father Quid-e-Azam has more class than Gandhi. And more handsome and stylish, if that has any effect on us we probably we have more handsome, more beautiful people and more classy than you guys :P !!

    4) For all those who think that we don’t have any film industry, yeah i know that our film industry is a disaster,but our Indie-movies are WAAYYYYY better than your Big Budget Blockbuster. even our T.V dramas have better than most of your movies. Plus, isn’t it just saddening to see than 100 years of Bollywood and only 3 Oscar nominations.. Makes Me Laugh. Plus most of your movies are copied from another Hollywood movie (plagiarism). Only a success rate of 20% of movies in Bollywood the future of industry is uncertain.


    when the situation we all are facing in Pakistan will end, just think of all the awesome movie plot we would have :O !!
    Just think of a movie which has a plot of a Pakistani police searching for a target killer in Karachi, all the drama, all the action. that would be epic.



  • Farah
    Jun 25, 2013 - 9:29PM

    If Shiraz is back into singing,it doesnt mean he has become a non musllim or has turned to infidelity.
    Personally I truly appreciate his music .Lets just enjoy the art and remember everyone has got a personal life,lets not interfere and just respect it !


  • Sridhar
    Jun 27, 2013 - 8:57PM

    People go where talent is respected. this is why a lot of people migrate to US even today. If Pakistani singers and actors are going to India, India must be doing something right.
    A song is the creation of a music director, his baby. He conceives the lyrics in the mind and may ask a lyricist to write it (if he is himself not a lyricist). He conceives the tune and asks a singer to sing it as the situation demands. If it is a Sufi song, Rahat Fateh Ali will be asked, if it is a Pop Song, may be someone else may fit the bill.
    Music directors have plenty of choices but will usually go with someone who is already established because the stakes are high. In the Olden (and Golden) days of Bollywood, Md Rafi could sing all kinds of songs but now-a-days, we need one singer to sing one kind of sing. Rahat Fateh can’t sing “yahoo” type of songs and Atif Aslam can’t sing a Sufi song for obvious reasons.
    If music director could sing, he would, as some directors like R.D Burman, S.D Burman, Hemant Kumar did. This is why A.R Rehman himslef sang “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscar award. He did not need Sukhwinder to sing. The song was conceived by A.R, lyrics by Gulzar. A.R Rehman would take credit of the song, not Sukhvinder.
    Those Pakistanis gloating over the singers seem to miss the point which i have elaborated.


  • itayschiter
    Jul 13, 2013 - 7:27AM

    you are not but rest of your 99.99999999999999999999999% country’s population love them.


  • itayschiter
    Jul 13, 2013 - 7:34AM

    first of all none of them they are not going to india! india approaches them and even begs because they know the talent is very rich and heavy. thats why the Pakistani singers are all over bollywood industry! your whole comment goes to wastebin! because Adnan Sami Khan is a music director! the most melodious beautiful compositions of this century are created by him! and he is a unique gem, with a very unique voice too.


  • bilal
    Jul 13, 2013 - 1:19PM

    Grow up guys. we have more issues rather than discussing musicians.


  • itayschiter
    Jul 13, 2013 - 9:51PM

    66 years ago it was same country so less 66 years from the 100 and secondly the line that was drawn that separated both countries doesnt mean any difference in culture tradition language and living styles regardless of some blends, we speak same language we cry we laugh on same thing. we have the same talent the same everything! its just that unfortunately we are suffering from bad leadership ever since we came into existence, that resulted downfall of our industry,we dont have film industry so we dont have commercial music directors, but still music industry is way better than Indias with very very brilliant musicians of all genre specially pop and classical of the millenium!! that why they are crazy about our singers and their compositions! itayschiter


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