Disco Pioneers: Indian Born Music Producer Biddu and Tina Charles

Back in the ‘70s Tina Charles was a very talented English singer and at the time doing only backup vocals for groups, and wasn’t getting recognition. It wasn’t until she met Indian born British music producer Biddu who produced her immortal hit “I love to love”. I remember watching this song premier on “Top of the Pops” back in ’76. It still sounds fresh almost 40 years later!

Biddu is considered one of the pioneers of Disco, Euro-Disco and South Asian Pop (Indipop) music. He was hailed as one of the “50 Greatest Music Producers of All Time” by New Musical Express.  His international breakthrough came in 1974 with “Kung Fu Fighting” performed by Carl Douglas; the song became one of the best-selling singles of all time with eleven million records sold, helped popularize disco music. It was the first worldwide disco hit from Britain and Europe, and established Biddu as one of the most prolific dance music producers from outside the United States at the time.

He also produced “Disco Deewane” for Nazia and Zoeb Hassan which went on to become the biggest selling pop album in South Asia and launched an entire genre of South Asian pop music. I lived in Africa at the time, it was heard everywhere from corner shops to clubs.

Ezel – Turkish Series on Netflix

Three of my addictions… I like to read books from foreign authors (Japan and Scandinavian countries mostly but also some South and South East Asian); listen to foreign music (from everywhere) and watch foreign movies and TV series (Korean, Japanese, Scandinavian, Eastern European, Latin American). I find most American music is just noise – nothing really artistic; and American films and TV series are clichéd, predictable and overrated. Made using the studio cookie cutter formulas – rarely something inspiring comes along. These days even here in Hollywood, they are buying rights to scripts and plots from foreign films and TV series and re-making them as American.

Turkey is one such place where the hottest TV shows come from now. Turkey went from nothing to become the largest producer or TV shows.

Angelina Jolie, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nancy Ajram and other celebrities will appear in roles in a new Turkish series about Syrian refugees…that’s the power of Turkish TV. The production values are higher and licensing fees around the world for many of the Turkish TV series are even higher than American ones, that’s how much the demand is for them. As one Hollywood studio executive said “We’re all learning Turkish now”. When the Turkish drama 1001 Nights aired in Chile in 2014, the ratings beat all the Latin telenovelas and there was a sudden rise in the number of children named Onur and Sehrazat – the main characters in the series. In Israel-Palestine, there were reports that between 3-4pm when a popular Turkish drama airs, everyone stops fighting….governments can’t bring peace there but Turkish dramas can it seems. In India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the number one ratings aren’t for Indian or Pakistani shows but Turkish ones. Turkey is mounting an attack on some of the foremost sources of entertainment for the world. Here’s looking at you, Hollywood and Bollywood.

Currently I am a big fan of a slick Turkish series called Ezel. The story is a revenge crime drama inspired by Alexander Dumas’ novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” (one of my favorite books of all time I have read it so many times but still enjoy it so much that I stay up to finish it).  Normally though I get disappointed by the screen adaptations as they don’t live up to the novel.

However, Ezel was a game changer. Hailed as the best Turkish series ever produced, it tells the story in present and in flashbacks. Originally Dumas wanted to tell the story of “The Count of Monte Christo” in flashbacks, Ezel uses time as a tool going back and forth. However the tale of Ezel doesn’t follow the novel. It is set in present day Turkey and Cyprus instead of 19th century Paris and defies genre as it is a revenge crime thriller, drama, action, mystery, romance. The actors are all brilliant in their roles and the story itself is very poetic….Betrayal tears them apart, revenge brings them together.

 The soundtrack is a masterpiece. Every musical piece in the thrilling scenes or dramatic is moving and fantastic. It has one of the best soundtracks by Toygar Isikli who has created a masterpiece of music that lives up to legendary screen music like the ones from “Last of the Mohicans”, “1492: Conquest of Paradise” and “The Godfather”.

 The series was licensed in about 100 countries, dubbed in many different languages and has even been re-made by Mexico (as Yago) and Armenia (as Ancanoty). A Hollywood re-make is also in the works.

 Here’s one of the gentler tracks from the soundtracks that is one of my favorites:

Menu Kehn De – Himesh Reshamiyya (Akbar Sami Remix)

Here is Akbar Sami’s electro-house remix of “Menu Kehn De” with its energetic vibe is sure to haunt dance clubs around the world for years to come!

Out now in stores on T-Series, the album “Aap Se Mausiqui” by Himesh Reshammiya features this track.

Taking a look at the past, Akbar Sami and Himesh Reshammiya Bollywood collaborations have made history;  their partnership has brought us some of the biggest and most memorable Bollywood remixes and dance tracks such as the award winning remix track Aashiq Banaya Aapne and Aap Ki Kashish, Jhalak Dikhlaja, and many more tracks that still set fires to dance floors around the world.

Reshammiya’s debut album “Aap Ka Suroor” in 2007 is considered the bestselling album (that was not a Bollywood film soundtrack) in Indian history. I bought it mainly for the seven dance remixes on the album including the title track which were produced by Akbar Sami – sheer magic!

 

 

Jai Ho to Slumdog Millionaire!

Who the hell would have thought that the best film on Oscar night in Hollywood was an intense, romantic melodrama that delivered satisfaction in a brilliant way, was made in the slums of Mumbai with a mostly unknown star cast, directed by a British director, who made films like “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later”?

“All my life, I’ve had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I’m here,” – Bollywood music director, A.R. Rahman as he accepted two of the Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song – “Jai Ho”.

“Jai Ho” means “May Victory Be Yours” in Hindi….and indeed victory was with “Slumdog Millionaire” last night.

With a whopping, truly deserved, 8 Oscars (from the 10 it was nominated for) “Slumdog Millionaire” the independent film that cost $14 million (compared to Dark Night made for $180 million) topped the list of most Oscar wins (including Best Picture) for any film last night at the Academy Awards in Hollywood, CA.

Here’s the oscars.com link where you can watch some of the highlights from last night’s big wins.

The movie was indeed one of the best films my wife and I have ever watched. It was like watching “Salaam Bombay” meets “City of God” – two of my favorite films of all time in one. A truly brilliant masterpiece of art!

“Jai Ho” song being performed live on the Oscars stage was fantastic!

Here’s the clip from the Oscars:

You can watch the song performed live by A.R. Rahman on the Jay Leno show:

The Oscar Winners are as follows :

BEST PICTURE:
Slumdog Millionaire

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Sean Penn
Milk

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Kate Winslet
The Reader

DIRECTING:
Slumdog Millionaire

FORIEGN LANGAUGE FILM:
Departures

MUSIC(SONG):
Slumdog Millionaire

MUSIC (SCORE):
Slumdog Millionaire

FILM EDITING:
Slumdog Millionaire

SOUND MIXING:
Slumdog Millionaire

SOUND EDITING:
The Dark Knight

VISUAL EFFECTS:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
Smile Pinki

DOCUMENTORY FEATURE:
Man on Wire

ACTOR IN SUPPORTING ROLE:
Health Ledger
The Dark knight

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION):
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Slumdog Millionaire

MAKEUP:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

COSTUME DESIGN:
The Duchess

ART Direction:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
La Maison En Peptits Cubes

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Wall-E

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Slumdog Millionaire

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY):
Milk

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Penelope Cruz
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

[Source : Official OSCAR Website www.oscar.com]

Gaza 2009 – We Will Never Forget

Here is a brief montage documenting the genocide committed by Israel in “Operation Cast Lead”. It also shows the war crimes as well as the the brave and noble people who stood up, who spoke out, who demonstrated (like my dear friends the Viranis and Peeras) against the Israeli Slaughter Machine.

Bear in mind – it is your taxes that are paying for these crimes:

President Obama if you are reading this blog, I’d like tell you that you are siding with the wrong people in this conflict.

“It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.”
— Albert Camus.

Haq Ali Ali Ali Maula Ali Ali

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997) was a great Peaceful Warrior. A singer from Pakistan that went on to become the world’s greatest singer of Qawwali, a boisterous and passionate music of mystical Islam. His name is revered the world over – from Bollywood to Hollywood.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is considered one of the greatest singers ever recorded. He holds the Guinness world record for the most recordings of any Qawwali artist and has recorded 125 albums. He was gifted with a six-octave vocal range and during his performances it was very common for him to sing at a high-level of intensity for several hours. One of my favorites is his live performance in Paris – the entire performance spans 5 CDs.

His family have been musicians and singers of Qawwali (Islamic devotional music) for six centuries. Nusrat’s father, himself a singer, died in 1964 when Nusrat was about 16. His father had wanted his son to become a doctor because Qawwali is a very challenging style to learn. Ten days after his father’s death, Nusrat had a dream where his father came to him and told him to sing, touching his throat. Nusrat woke up singing, and gave his first public performance at his father’s funeral ceremony forty days later.

His first major hit in Pakistan was the Qawwali, Haq Ali Ali which was performed in a traditional style and with traditional instruments (Harmonium, Tabla, etc). The song featured restrained use of Nusrat’s sargam improvisations and attracted a large number of listeners.

Here is the beautiful heart rendering Qawwali, Haq Ali Ali dedicated to Hazrat Ali (AS) by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – the poetry is sheer divine ecstasy.

Lyrics and Translation of Haq Ali Ali by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Ali imaam-e-manasto manam Ghulaam-e-Ali
hazaar jaan-e-giraamii fidaa-e-naam-e-Ali

Ali is the master of all, I am the slave of Ali
a thousand lives are to be sacrificed for Ali

Haidariam qalandaram mastam
bandaa-e-Murtaza Ali hastam
peshvaa-e-tamaam virdaaram
ke sage kuu-e-sher-e-yazdaanam

I belong to the Lion of God
I am an intoxicated ecstatic wandering dervish
I am a slave of Ali the Chosen One
I am the leader of all the drunkards [mystical intoxication]
As I am a dog in the street of the Lion of God [Sher-e Yazdaan is Persian for Lion of God].

kabhii diivaar hiltii hai, kabhii dar kaaNp jaataa hai
Ali kaa naam sun kar ab bhii Khaibar kaaNp jaataa hai

Sometimes the wall shakes, sometimes trembles the door
upon hearing the name of Ali, the fort of Khaibar trembles even now.

Note: During the battle for the Fort of Khaibar, Ali rooted out the heavy door of the fort and used it as his shield.

shaah-e-mardaaN Ali
Ali Ali Ali
Ali Maula Ali

King of the brave men, Ali
Ali Ali Ali
Ali, [my] master Ali.

patthar pe alam deen ka gaaRaa jisne
lalkaar kar Marhab ko pichaaRaa jisne

[One] who implanted the flag of faith on the rocks
[One] who challenged Marhab and defeated him.
Note: In the same war, Ali challenged and defeated the celebrated warrior Marhab.

Haq
Ali Ali Ali
Ali Maula Ali

[The] truth!
Ali Ali Ali
Ali, [my] master Ali

jap le jap le mere manvaa
yahii naam sacchaa hai pyaare
yahii naam tere sab dukh haare
isii naam kii barkat ne diye raaz-e-haqiiqat khol

my heart! chant this
[as] this is the name that is true.
This is the name that removes suffering
[and] the auspiciousness of this name opened the secrets of being.

shaah-e-mardaaN Ali
la fataa illah Ali
sher-e-yazdaaN Ali

King of the brave, Ali.
There is no one except Ali
[and] the lion of God is Ali.

tan par Ali, Ali ho zubaaN par Al Ali
mar jauuN to kafan par bhii likhna Ali Ali

My body chants Ali, so does my tongue
[and] when I die, then write Ali on my shroud.

baGhair hubb-e-Ali mudd’aa nahiiN miltaa
ibaadatoN kaa bhii hargiz silaa nahiiN miltaa
Khudaa ke bandoN suno Ghaur se Khudaa kii qasam
jise Ali nahiiN milte use Khudaa nahiiN miltaa

Without the love of Ali, desire is not fulfilled
not even the prayers are answered.
O! slaves of God listen carefully, by God!
One who does not realizes Ali does not realize God.

basad talaash na ab kuch vus’at-e-nazar se milaa
nishaan-e-manzil-e-maqsuud raahbar se milaa
Ali mile to mile Khaana-e-Khudaa saa hameN
Khudaa ko dhuuNdha to vo bhi Ali ke ghar se milaa

Don’t search for anything now, match the eternal search
match the footprints of the desired destination with guide
to get Ali is like getting a house of God
searching for God too, we found Him in Ali’s house.

diid Haider kii ibaadat, hai ye farmaan-e-nabii
hai Ali ruuh-e-nabii, jism-e-nabii, jaan-e-nabii
gul-e-tathiir Ali
haq kii shamshiir Ali
piiroN ke piir Ali

The sight of Ali in itself is prayer, so said the Prophet
Ali is the soul, body and life of the Prophet
Ali is the purified flower
Ali is the sword of the truth
Ali is the saint of the saints.

dast-e-ilaa kyuuN na ho sher-e-Khudaa Ali
maqsuud har ataa hai shah-e-laa-fataa Ali
jis tarah ek zaat-e-Muhammad hai be-misaal
paidaa hu’aa na hogaa ko’ii duusraa Ali
“Bedam” yahii to paaNch haiN maqsuud-e-qaaynaat
Khairunnisaa, Hasan, Hussain, Mustafaa, Ali

At the door of god why not be like the Lion of God.
Every intention has a reward, King of the Victorious is Ali
Like the progeny of Muhammad is unique and unmatchable
There is none born nor ever will, like Ali
These five are indeed the reason of creation;
Khairunnisaa (Fatima, prophet’s daughter), Hasan, Hussain (Ali’s sons), Mustafa (Prophet Muhammad), Ali

Haq
Ali Ali Ali
Ali Maula Ali

[The] truth!
Ali Ali Ali
Ali, [my] master Ali

Sensation Productions

milan.jpg

My mother called the other day from Cardiff, Wales; I tell you that woman never ceases to surprise me – she just pops up somewhere around the world and calls me for the oddest reasons – but this time she had a great reason and that was to tell me about about this new website:

Sensation Productions

She tells me I’ll feel like dancing to the music when I listen to it and boy was she right! The track “Crazy About U” got me popping…

Listen to this awesome music by an extremely talented and upcoming artist and music producer from Cardiff – Milan. (That’s right Miraj’s little brother). The sound reminds me so much of Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and Lionel Richie. He plays most instruments and has written, arranged and performed all the recordings himself. I remember Milan as a sweet little boy who loved playing video games. I loved pulling his cheeks.

Mum, if you’re reading this – stop it now, you’re supposed to be praying and stuff at your age – not listening to R&B, for crying out loud! LOL!.