Over the last decade, several Pakistani musicians, such as Atif Aslam, Shiraz Uppal and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, have carved out successful careers as playback singers in Bollywood. Now it seems like their frequent work trips might have inspired their Indian counterparts.
With the revival of Pakistan’s film industry, it was only a matter of time before international artists started showing an interest in collaborating with local talents. And one of the few people to do so is the renowned Indian playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj. The two-time Filmfare Award winner for playback singing has collaborated with music composer Shani Arshad on a soundtrack of the upcoming romantic-drama Bin Roye.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Arshad, who is also working on the background score for the film, starring Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan, recalls how the collaboration was initiated. “When the producer, Momina Duraid, heard the song, she was adamant that it should be sung by none other than Rekha Bhardwaj.” According to Arshad, although the recording took place over Skype, the quality of the song remained unaffected. “With her, the best thing is that she has a brilliant command over Urdu, you wouldn’t even realise that her first language is Hindi. Above all she sang the song exactly the way we wanted her to,” he adds.
This isn’t the first time Arshad has worked with Indian musicians. He has previously collaborated with prominent singers, including Sunidhi Chauhan, while producing jingles for television commercials. Although unwilling to reveal the title, Arshad describes the song as an “upbeat number” which also features singer Momin Durrani.
Despite the criticism faced by Pakistani musicians in India, Arshad encourages others to follow suit. “Being a Pakistani makes it easy for us to perform and work alongside Indian musicians as we share the same language and our compositions are also similar,” says Arshad. He emphasised the need for more joint ventures across the border, terming it crucial for the growth of emerging musicians.
“One of my Indian friends once told me that comparatively the quality and variety of music composers is better in Pakistan. But the diversity of singers in India is greater than what we have in our country.” However, according to the music composer, this is true only to a certain extent as few quality singers remain in the country. “All the others try to be like Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. We have so many replicas.”
Bin Roye’s soundtracks feature various music producers, including Sahir Ali Bhagga and Shiraz Uppal. Another renowned Indian playback singer, Harshdeep Kaur, is also set to mark her singing debut in Pakistan with the song Ballay Ballay. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Zeb Bhangash have also lent their vocals for the film. Apart from Bin Roye, Arshad is also composing music for the comedy film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani.