Indian music always has the potential to make the Indian audience sway. With it’s energy to it’s emotions, there is everything that makes it popular with it’s own crowd. However, for decades there has been a continental shift with Indian music being adopted by Western countries and has produced the same entrancing and hypnotic effect that it has on an Indian audience.
Here, is a list of 10 Indian songs that made it big outside of India as well.
01. Mera Joota hai Japani (Shree 420, 1955) :
This song with music by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics by Shailendra, written for the 1955 Bollywood film Shree 420, was performed by popular Bollywood star Raj Kapoor, though sung by playback singer Mukesh.
The song depicted the essence of the newly formed India and the casting off of the colonist yoke and the recognition of internationalist aim of uniting to make India and the world, a better place.
The song was also a satirical retort at some of the political leaders and rich upper class of the newly independent India, who boasted of being swadeshi in their clothes, but were extremely western in their thought, outlook, affiliations and deeds. This song gained international fame, particularly in the Soviet Union.
02. Oruvan Oruvan Mudalalli (Muthu, 1995) :
The song is from Muthu, a 1995 Indian Tamil-language romantic drama film directed by K. S. Ravikumar was a huge hit in Japan. From karaoke to other shows based on singing, this song was featured a lot in the early years.
The movie is a remake of Mohanlal starring 1994 Malayalam-language film Thenmavin Kombathu. The film stars Rajinikanth, Meena, and Sarath Babu. The song was composed by A. R. Rahman.
03. Mundya Tu Bachke Rahi (Punjabi MC, 1999) :
Mundian To Bach Ke, also titled “Beware of the Boys (Mundian To Bach Ke)”, is a bhangra song performed by Punjabi artist Labh Janjua with lyrics written by Channi Singh.
The song was remixed by Panjabi MC in 1999, produced in Birmingham, United Kingdom for the album Legalised. Following its re-release as a single in 2002 with Jay-Z, it achieved considerable worldwide success, topping the singles charts in Italy and Belgium (Wallonia), and charting highly in many other countries.
04. I am a Disco Dancer (Disco Dancer, 1982) :
The song was a part of ‘Disco Dancer’, a 1982 Indian Hindi-language Bollywood musical drama film, directed by Babbar Subhash and written by Rahi Masoom Raza. It stars Bengali actor Mithun Chakraborty in the lead role.
The song was worldwide success, with its popularity extending across the Indian Subcontinent/Central/Eastern Asia, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Turkey, and Eastern/Western Africa. In China, the soundtrack composed by Bappi Lahiri, was a success and received a Gold Award.
05. Ichak Daana Bichak Daana (Shree 420, 1955) :
Shree 420 was a huge success in Soviet Union, Romania and Israel. Consequently, this song was very famous in these countries. The song was a part of the Shree 420 soundtrack, composed by Shankar-Jaikishan, written by Hasrat Jaipuri and sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh.
In Israel, the song “Ichak Dana Beechak Dana” (transliterated as “Ichikidana”) became popular, and was re-recorded by local singer Naim Rajuan.
06. Awaara Hoon (Awaara, 1951) :
Awaara Hoon is an internationally popular song from the 1951 classic hindi film, Awaara, starring Raj Kapoor. The song was written in the Urdu language by lyricist Shailendra and sung by Mukesh. It immediately struck a chord in audiences from various classes and backgrounds all over India and beyond.
It became hugely popular in China, the Soviet Union and in the Middle East. In China, both the song and film were said to be Chairman Mao’s favourites. In a May 2013 BBC poll, the song was rated the second-greatest Bollywood song of all time. The popularity of the song led to the creation of localized versions of the song in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, China and Romania.
07. Tunak Tunak Tun (Daler Mehndi, 1998) :
Tunak Tunak Tun, is a bhangra/pop love song by Indian artist Daler Mehndi released in 1998. At the time, critics complained that Mehndi’s music was only popular due to his videos that featured beautiful women dancing. Mehndi’s response was to create a video that featured only himself.
The song became hugely popular after an internet meme was made in the same but was even popular as being used abroad as a staple Bhangra song to be featured in a cultural show.
08. Tujhe Dekha to ye Jana Sanam (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, 1995) :
The Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge soundtrack features seven songs composed by Jatin Lalit, a duo consisting of the brothers Jatin and Lalit Pandit with lyrics from Anand Bakshi. Thsi song was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kumar Sanu.
This is considered as the go-to Bollywood song abroad. The huge worldwide success of DDLJ, both at home and abroad made this song as one of the most romantic songs in Bollywood as well as a huge hit among the outside crowd.
09. Chaiya Chaiya (Dil Se, 1998) :
Chaiyya Chaiyya is a song from the 1998 Hindi film Dil Se, directed by Mani Ratnam. The song was composed by A.R. Rahman, written by Gulzar. It was sung by Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi. It quickly became popular upon the release and its music video gained cult status, partly because it was filmed on a moving train.
In 2002, the BBC World Service conducted an international poll to choose the ten most popular songs of all time. Around 7000 songs were selected from all over the world. According to the BBC, people from 155 countries voted “Chaiyya Chaiyya” ninth in the top 10 songs. “Chaiyya Chaiyya” reached the top of the charts in India and became popular in the United Kingdom.
10. Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire, 2008) :
“Jai Ho” is a song composed by A. R. Rahman for the 2008 film, Slumdog Millionaire. When Danny Boyle, the director of Slumdog Millionaire, approached Rahman to compose its soundtrack, he included the song. “Jai Ho” accompanies a choreographed dance sequence at the end credits of Slumdog Millionaire. The song features vocals from Sukhvinder Singh, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Vijay Prakash in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. Indian singer Tanvi Shah wrote and provided vocals for a Spanish section of the song.
American girl group The Pussycat Dolls recorded an English interpretation of “Jai Ho”. Entitled “Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)”, and credited to “A. R. Rahman and the Pussycat Dolls featuring Nicole Scherzinger”, the song appeared on the re-release of the group’s second studio album Doll Domination (2008).