Punjabi rapper 'Yo Yo' Honey Singh believes the Indian entertainment industry is self-sufficient and can do without international celebrities. He has openly challenged international rapper Akon, and says desi singers must promote Indian languages abroad, instead of aping the west and singing in English.
"Whether it's Hindi or Punjabi, I will sing only in the language of our country. Why is it that abroad songs in Spanish and French are sung with such great pride? Why are we so apologetic about singing to the west in Indian languages," questioned Singh.
He slams the Bollywood culture of bringing western artistes like "Chhammak challo" singer Akon to sing for Hindi films.
"Too much value is attached to American and British music in our country. I want to change that. I started rapping in Punjabi to create a sense of pride in our youth for our own culture.
"In every part of the world, there's pride in its specific culture. Why are Hindi and Punjabi songs not reaching out worldwide? Why do we invite western musicians to sing in Hindi films?
"Every time musicians from Pakistan sing in Bollywood, there's an uproar, when Pakistani and Indian artistes are like-minded brothers. Then why should we invite some American singer to do 'che-che-pe-pe' in our country," he added.
Singh, whose song "Mujhe neat pilade sajna" will feature in Sunil Bohra's gangster flick "Mastaan", feels India's pool of talent is vast.
"We've so much talent here. In France and Germany, they speak their own language. But we Indians want to speak and sing in English. There was a time when there was a non-film pop movement started by Alisha Chinai and Baba Sehgal. It lost its way because it couldn't build its own identity.
"I want to bring back an identity to independent music in India. Let's sing in Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Bhojpuri. Do you know an international remix of a Bhojpuri song 'Loote la' is played in clubs all over the world?
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"We've lost Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Jagjit Singh. Before we lose the other legends, let's take them to an international level."
As for Akon, the 25-year-old "Dope shope" singer has an open challenge.
"Arrange a concert on the same day and the time in the same city for Akon and me. See who attracts a bigger crowd. I've seen the connectivity I have with live audiences.
"Call Akon or Enrique Iglesias. I'm willing to take them on man-to-man, musician-to-musician. I'll hold a concert on the same day and in the same city as them.
"If I don't attract twice the number of people as compared to them, I'll give up music. It's an open challenge. The only international artiste I'd have feared to take on is Micheal Jackson," he said.
Singh is confident the Indian youth will support him whole-heartedly.
"If we want to reach international standards we shouldn't ape their language. We should try to compete with their technical standards in recording and presentation. My fans would always complain that they though they loved my music, they didn't find the videos good enough.
"I decided to take stock of the situation. One music video alone for my song 'Brown rang' cost me $100,000. We shot the video in Dubai and invited mainstream hip-hop video directors from Los Angeles. It got 4 million viewings on the internet in just one month," he said.
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, May 8 (Agency)