10 International Songs Inspired By Indian Music


The Indian film industry, specifically Bollywood, has a bad reputation for being a notorious copycat. But in the recent years, the trend’s been reversing and by the looks of it, it’s here to stay. 

Here are 10 international songs that’ve been inspired by the Indian film industry.

Will I Am – It’s My Birthday 

Will I Am’s “It’s my birthday” is straightaway lifted from AR Rahman’s timeless Tamil hit, “Urvasi Urvasi” from Kadhalan (1994). The original song is one of my favourite songs as it matches with my philosophy. The lines, “Take it easy, policy” sings to my soul. 

“Urvasi Urvasi” is our desi response to classic English hits on the same theme such as “Don’t worry, be happy” by Bobby McFerrin and “Bare Necessities” from Jungle Book. These songs call us to slow down and smell the roses instead of worrying and hustling like scattered rats all our lives. 

Back to the copied or inspired song, “It’s my birthday”, I think it’s a poor imitation. They say imitation is the best form of flattery. But in this case, it’s clearly not. And actually a step down from the original. If you have to copy or get inspired, do better and take it a notch up higher. 

Black Eyed Peas – Don’t Phunk With My Heart and Mare

Surprise! Another imitation by Black Eyed Peas, one of whose members is Will I Am. 

Here, the band copied not one but two Hindi songs and this time, the inspiration is the late Kalyanji Anandji. The songs are “Ae Naujawan Sab Kuchh Yahan” from Apradh (1972) and “Yeh Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Diwana” (1978)  from Don, both sung by Asha Bhosle.

Mare is another song by the Black Eyed Peas, whose opening’s been inspired by the Hindi song “Hai Rama” from Rangeela (1995), composed by A.R. Rahman. 

Ciara, Ft. Chris Brown – Turntables

The magic of A. R. Rahman rubs Hollywood again. This time it’s his Tamil song “Kannalanae” or the Hindi version of it, “Kehna Hi Kya” from Bombay (1995). Chris Brown and Ciara are big names in Hollywood’s rap music scene. Rahman’s number is ubiquitous in this rap song. Hear it to believe it! 

Tesher – Young Shahrukh and Jalebi Baby with Jason Derulo

Hitesh Sharma or popularly known as Tesher is an Indian-origin Canadian singer whose rise to fame in Hollywood has been thanks to Bollywood songs. 

His song, “Young Shahrukh” which samples the Bollywood hit, “Bole Chudiyan” from Karan Johar’s blockbuster movie, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) made him an overnight viral sensation. 

His recent song “Jalebi” with Jason Derulo, inspired by Mallika Sherawat’s item number, “Jalebi Bhai” from Double Dhamaal (2011) is another sensational international hit. I loved Alia Bhatt’s take on it with her girlfriends for one of their friend’s wedding receptions.

Method Man feat Busta Rhymes – What’s Happenin 

Dum Maro Dum is a timeless Bollywood classic. I have fond memories of this song, especially because I danced to it as the main character for one of our company’s annual cultural events. Even though it was an extempore group performance with no prior practice involved, we had a ball on the stage and it turned out to be one of the highlights of that night. 

It’s no wonder Hollywood didn’t spare this R.D. Burman song sung to perfection by Asha Bhosle and Usha Uthup. Method Man and Busta Rhymes’s hip-hop song “What’s Happenin” samples this cult hippie song and lends a brilliant twist to it. 

CJ – Whoopity

Arijit Singh is popular among the Gen Z Indian youth. CJ’s song Whoopity, which went viral on social media platforms, has an Arijit Singh connection. The song is inspired by one of Arijit Singh’s hit songs, “Sanam Re”, the 2016 movie title song.

Violeta “Viki” Miljković – Mahi Mahi 

Priyanka Chopra’s born to be internationally famous. From her winning the international Miss, World pageant in 2000 to being a legit Hollywood actress today, this one doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. Her Bollywood song, “Mahi Mahi” with Bobby Deol from Kismat (2004) served as a major inspiration for the Serbian hit song, “Mahi mahi” by Violeta “Viki” Miljković. 

Britney Spear – Toxic

Can you believe that Britney Spears’ comeback song, “Toxic” has a Bollywood connection? The song is still played today in DJ parties and a big part of its success lies in its catchy hook. Bollywood has always been synonymous with catchy music thanks to its song-and-dance culture in movies. Toxic gets its infectious hook from the Hindi song “Tere Mere Beech Mein” from the movie, Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981). 

M.I.A – Jimmy

This is one of my favourite remix numbers. Srilankan singer, MIA took a vintage Bollywood number “Jimmy” from Disco Dancer (1982) and elevated it while keeping the essence of this Bappi Lahiri classic song intact. This one makes the perfect tribute to Bappi Da, in my opinion. I’m addicted to this one and can’t stop listening just once. 

Truth Hurts feat. Rakim – Addictive

Saving the best for the last, this is hands-down my favourite Hollywood-Bollywood rehash number. I loved the original song “Kaliyon Ka Chaman“ sung by Lata Mangeshkar, composed by Bappi Lahiri for the movie Jyoti (1981). This classic was picturised on Aruna Irani. I also loved the sensual remix version of it by Harry Anand, picturised on the actress Meghna Naidu. But if I had to pick my favourite of all the version, it’ll have to be the international version, which is a strong, unapologetic expression of the female desire. It also gives a fresh punchy vibe to the song. I think it’s the best International adaption of an Indian song to date.

It’s not over yet!

While Bollywood has been synonymous with dance for long, it’s only a matter of time that the song department will catch on like wildfire.

We can expect to see more such international adaptations of Indian songs in the coming years.

*This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023

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Tina Sequeira
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. She is passionate about tech, creativity, and social justice—dabbling in and writing about the same.

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