Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 5 April 2020

LISTEN: Five Bollywood tracks riffing on Arabic tunes

Indian artists have been drawing inspiration from Arabic pop hits for years for film soundtracks and solo records

Arijit Singh. Robin Little / Redferns via Getty Images
Arijit Singh. Robin Little / Redferns via Getty Images

The love between Bollywood and the Arab entertainment world extend both ways. While Douzi’s version of Radio joins a growing list of Arab version of Hindi hits, which include Moroccan stars Grini and Jamila’s version of Zaalima from the action drama Raees and the UAE’s Adel Ebhrahim’s take of Gerua (renamed Telagena) from 2015’s romantic comedy Dilwale, Indian artists have been drawing inspiration from Arabic pop hits for years for film soundtracks and solo records.


The rai music classic by Algeria’s Cheb Khaled has been a favourite of Bollywood over the years, with a new version appearing roughly every decade or so. The latest version to appear was in the 2015 hostage drama Airlift starring Akshay Kumar and was partly shot in Ras Al Khaimah. Sung by Arijit Singh, this Didi is a thrilling blends of both worlds with its sea of ouds, Arabic percussion and Shehnai flutes.

Ya Ali

There is a fine line between inspiration and copying. The jury is still out regarding Pritam’s Ya Ali, which is pretty similar to Kuwaiti band’s Ya Ghali. The Hindi song was composed for the 2006 crime film Gangster (three years after Ya Ghali was released) starring Emraan Hashmi. Guitara were not happy with Pritam’s version, reportedly calling it a rip-off. Pritam said the song was inspired by an old Muslim folk song. Hop online and hear both versions and you be the judge.

Deewena Kar Raha Hai

Taken from the 2012 Bollywood horror film, Raaz 3 with Emran Haashmi and Bipasha Basu, the romantic number acts as welcome respite amongst all the supernatural action. Sung by Javed Ali, it wouldn’t take too long for Arabic pop aficionados to realise it takes its inspiration from Egyptian crooner’s Mohammed Hamaki’s Ana Law Azeto.

Kaho Na Kaho

Sometimes a tune is too good to be messed with. Such was the case with the Amir Jamal sung Kaho Na Kaho from the 2002 drama Murder. Lifted from Egyptian superstar Amr Diab 2000 hit Tamally Maak, the Hindi version is considered a Bollywood favourite and won Jamal a Best Playback Singer Award at a Bollywood award show.

DIl Ne Ye Kha Hai

More inspired by than an official cover. Dil Ne Ye Kha Hai was taken from Saudi crooner Abdul Majeed Abdullah’s Ahebak Leh Ana Madri of the 1980’s. Sung by Udit Narayan, it is majestic, and makes good use of Khaleeji music’s penchant for lush orchestration.

Updated: July 15, 2017 06:15 PM



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