7 Hollywood films with popular Indian songs

Bollywood’s lilting tunes on Hollywood screens


October 14, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

7 Hollywood films with popular Indian songs

A scene from Dev Patel and Rooney Mara starrer Lion which featured several classic songs from Bollywood

Though a one-off occurrence earlier, an increasing number of Hollywood films are now using Indian songs.

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Indian viewers turned nostalgic, ecstatic and stunned when the Ryan Reynold-starring Deadpool (2016) opened to Mera Joota Hai Japani, a Hindi song from 1955 film Shree 420. The fervour reached a crescendo when director Tim Miller included Yuhin chala chal rahi, a song from Swadesh (2004), in Deadpool 2. The same song is sung in Gravity (2013) by Shariff, an Indian astronaut minutes before debris hits him.

In the 1994 Tamil film Kadhalan, Prabhudeva gyrated on top of a moving bus to the tune of AR Rahman’s peppy composition Urvashi Urvashi. Cut to the Oscar-nominated drama Lion (2016) 22 years later. Saroo (Dev Patel) and his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara) are on their way to a friend’s house for a lunch party in Melbourne when the song Urvasi Urvasi plays in the background.

A significant portion of Lion is set in 1987 in India, when little Saroo (Sunny Pawar) wanders from his home in Khandwa on a decommissioned train and lands up in Kolkata. Popular songs from the 1980s, such as Aaja Nindiya Aaja, from 1984 film Lorie, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Salma Agha’s Aa Paas Aa (Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki, 1984) are used in the background.

Over the years, Hollywood has adopted many Indian soundtracks in a range of situations from dance numbers to humorous ones. Here are some instances:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind included Mohammed Rafi’s Mera Mann Tera Pyaasa from Gambler

In Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, free-spirited Clementine (Kate Winslet) invites shy Joel (Jim Carrey) over to her apartment for a drink. The music that is playing on her stereo isn’t typical of the popular sounds in New York City, where she lives.

The sinuous snake dance number Tere Sang Pyar Mein from Nagin (1976) is heard over Clementine’s dialogue when she jokes about seducing Joel. Next up is the Mohammed Rafi number Mera Mann Tera Pyaasa from Gambler (1971). A few minutes later, Lata Mangeshkar’s romantic song Wada Na Tod (Dil Tujhko Diya, 1987) plays when Joel decides to leave and Clementine insists he stay. The songs reflected Clementine’s thoughts all through the film.

Ghost World (2001)

Ghost world is a horror comedy based on the lives of a bunch of high school goers

In the popular dark comedy Ghost World, the opening credits are set to the trippy sounds of the Shankar-Jaikishan composed rock and roll number Jaan Pehchaan Ho, from film Gumnaam (1965). Scarlett Johnson starrer Ghost World deals with lives of a bunch of high school students.

During the Hindi song, the visuals pan over a suburban row apartment complex, filming the homes of its jaded inhabitants. While Enid (Thora Birch) is shown watching the television set on which the song is being telecast, she shakes her head vigorously, imitating the dancer (Laxmi Chhaya) to shake off her own state of ennui.


Inside Man (2006)

The contrast between Bollywood and Hollywood was never starker than when AR Rehman’s Chaiyaa Chaiyya from the Shah Rukh Khan-Manisha Koirala starrer Dil Se (1998) was played in the background of the introductory scene of Spike Lee’s Inside Man. Here was a pulsating Hindi film tune originally meant for a terrorism-themed drama as a prelude to a bank heist.

The song plays right after Nicholas Cage says his dialogue before the opening credits for the film.

Moulin Rouge (2001)

Moulin Rouge offers a befitting spectacle to the theatrics involving Nicole Kidman

The rumbustious rhythm of Chamma Chamma (China Gate, 1998) in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge offers a befitting spectacle to the theatrics involving Satine (Nicole Kidman), who is dressed to the hilt for the part of an Indian princess in a stage musical.

The iconic musical revolved around a poet who falls in love with the star performer of a musical. It featured as the opening song for Kidman’s Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend performance in the film.

The Accidental Husband (2008)

The Accidental Husband featured a number of hit songs from AR Rahman’s repertoire

The Accidental Husband featured a number of hit songs from AR Rahman’s repertoire. Yaro Yarodi from Maniratnam’s Tamil film Alaipayuthey, released in 2000 and late singer and composer S P Balasubramaniam’s Swasame, from Thenali, (2000) mirror lead character Emma’s state-of-mind. Emma (Uma Thurman) is a radio jockey familiar with the requested tunes and even attends an Upnayana (a Hindu religious ritual) where the favoured dance track is Rang De, from Govind Nihalani’s Thakshak (1999).

In The Accidental Husband, during Emma gets married to Jeffery according to Indian rituals, Chalka Chalka Re, another Hindi song, from Saathiya, a 2002 Bollywood film, plays in the background.

Shaun of The Dead (2004)

In Shaun of The Dead, the Kishore Kumar dirge Lehron Ki Tarah Yaadein (Nishaan,1983) is played in a store owned by an Indian shopkeeper where Shaun (Simon Pegg) regularly shops. One fateful morning, a groggy Shaun finds the storekeeper missing. The melancholic song still playing in the background is a telling sign of what happened to the owner. The news of a zombie apocalypse hasn’t yet reached Shaun’s ears. The song does its bit to inform him.

The classic plays on the radio before the channel starts making an emergency announcement about the zombie attack in Hindi language which Shaun fails to understand. It is regarded as one of the most humorous moments in the spoof zombie film.

The Dictator (2012)

The Dictator added a hip hop version of Punjabi MC’s Mundian To Bachke Rahi, in their trailer

Sacha Baron Cohen starrer and Larry Charles’ directed The Dictator is considered to be one of the most controversial yet popular comedies made in Hollywood. Taking a comic view of global politics with special focus on the Middle East, the film has gathered a large bundle of die-hard fans as well as raised a lot of eyebrows globally.

The filmmakers added a hip hop version of Punjabi MC’s Mundian To Bachke Rahi, in their trailer. The original song featured in the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Hindi film Boom, released in 2003.



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