Is Priyanka Chopra the Next Pop Icon?

Priyanka Chopra has been signed to Universal Music Group and DesiHits’ record label and now the question is, can this actress become the next pop star? I’ve been engaged in countless great conversations about this and with what’s to come, I’ll go ahead and share my thoughts.

SAMMA (South Asian Media, Marketing, and Entertainment Association) has just awarded Piggy Chops the Trailblazer Award for being the first Bollywood actor to win a major record deal in the U.S.

Regarding the SAMMA recognition, “win” makes it sound like earning a record deal a race or game which has me uncomfortable. Deals are given as milestones in artists careers once they have proven that they have talent and persona to carry a brand. With limited resources and a struggling economy, the music industry has taken hits and the number of music contracts has been reduced. Of course the exception to all this is reality TV; American Idol, The X Factor, and The Sing Off are just a couple of examples of people being able to win record deals.

Now let’s think about the situation in the Bollywood context.

Bollywood is an industry with celebrity status and success for actors, actresses, singers, choreographers, designers, producers, directors, composers, and everyone in between! It is also an industry where people have the ability to swing from one professional role to another. Dia Mirza is an actress turned producer, Himesh Reshammiya is a composer turned singer turned actor, Shimak is a choreographer turned singer, and so on.

Let’s explore the actors turned singers in Bollywood- Abhishek Bachchan’s rapped for films, Amitabh Bachchan is a regular playback singer, Hrithik Roshan even has a few songs under his belt. Were Bollywood music directors deaf or were they protecting their soundtracks from Priyanka’s voice? The likes of Vishal and Shekhar, Salim-Sulaiman, and Jatin-Lalit could have pulled Priyanka Chopra into a studio and had her sing, but no one did.

I am sure with some studio time and the right vocal coaches, Priyanka can carry a tune, but I don’t know how her Desi audiences will react if her voice is unrecognizable and how potential Western fans will respond during live shows. Too much sound editing and “studio magic” can really change a voice and leave a music listener feeling lied to.

However, best of luck to Priyanka Chopra and the new leg in her career. I hope moving forward the Desi industry pays proper attention to those artists with no “fame” and real talent to help nurture new careers and provides a foundation for this industry to GROW and FLOURISH.

Ray William Johnson Admits ‘I Heart Indians’

Bollywood equals porn according to Ray William Johnson’s latest episode of =3 and with his description, you can’t help but to laugh.

Ray takes an 1980s (what I assume) Tollywood clip and interprets it as he sees it. The video is ridiculous, I am so glad that Indian cinema has thrived since then!

Interview: Salim and Sulaiman Discuss ‘Azaan’s’ Music

Salim and Sulaiman Merchant are a music direction and production duo with immeasurable talent. With countless Bollywood hits and now mainstream attention, is there anything these men don’t do? With all the excitement and travelling I managed to catch Salim and Sulaiman to discuss their music for Azaan and even a North American Tour! Check out my exclusive interview.

Salim and Sulaiman

Zaynah: Azaan is an international release that tells a story of global threats of terrorism which are provoked by religious misconceptions. What are some of the emotions you wanted portray in the music you have created?
Salim/Sulaiman: We kept our music very pure, and had a prayer-like quality in each song. Even the love songs have that element of devotion in them. We kept the songs slow and beautiful to bring out the emotions of the characters they represented.

You will find a great blend of emotions in our music, and with tracks such as “Bismillah” you find the Sufi overtones. The beautiful thoughts of love, peace and harmony is heard in “Khuda Ke Liye.”

Zaynah: Did you face any particular challenges creating this soundtrack?
Salim/Sulaiman: To break the fast paced action sequences and spots we had to create songs that were interesting and not so relaxed; we maintained the level of the energy and did not ruin it. We take on each project individually; we have built up a great understanding with the Director Prashant Chada who happens to be a dear friend, we understood what he wanted to present. We are quite happy and based on the response so far we think fans are going to love the music.

Zaynah: Is there a standout track on the soundtrack for each of you?
Salim: Aafreen and Bismillah it’s hard to choose
Sulaiman: Aafreen and Habibi Habibi

Zaynah: Shweta Subram is an up and coming artist in Canada and

Shweta Subram

you have had the opportunity to work with her. How was that? Tell us about the collaboration.
Salim/Sulaiman: We wanted to do something special and unique for the IIFA’s in Toronto. We thought let’s perform our music with some Canadian talent. Canada and the U.S. have such a large South Asian Community and this would be a great opportunity for us to involve them directly with Bollywood and show the rest of the world Canada is not only a great IIFA hosting country but Canada is a country which allows Our culture to flourish even if it is oceans apart from India.

Our friend Moh set up some tryouts for local Canadian singers and performers that would be able to sing our Hindi tracks, and he really recommended Shweta.

Shweta was so humble and really picked up the track well and took direction from us. She has a great attitude and of course her skills are also good. She was a great fit and performed so well. We love to give opportunities to new talent. But she really took this chance and did a great job and we were so excited and happy for her also.

We also worked with a local guitarist and a bassist as well, who were performing with our band live. Johnny Morello and Gian-franco as well as Mr. Shahid Alikhan accompanied us on the song “Bismillah.”

It was a wonderful experience and we were happy to share that with the world and especially at IIFA.

Zaynah: Got to ask…what’s next?
Salim/Sulaiman: Well you know we also just released the our soundtrack for Aazaan, Love Breakups Zindagi, and Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl which has kept us quite busy and we just recently got signed to complete 4 more films which you will be hearing of in the near future as well as a North American Tour in March 2012. Make sure you come and share the experience

Imran Khan Rocks out in ‘Bhaag DK Bose’

There is plenty of hype surrounding Aamir Khan’s upcoming release Delhi Belly. To get the masses on board, the crew is now sharing the music video for the song “Bhaag DK Bose.”

We see Imran Khan along with two of the film’s supporting actors in an empty warehouse rocking out. The song is definitely very current and one that will get stuck in your head (and is now driving me crazy). Let’s see if this song starts to make its way up the charts.