Bollywood Soundtrack

IndiaOn a previous trip to India during the late 90’s the soundtrack of that journey became synonymous with the latest Bollywood hit; “Dil to Pagal Hai”.  In 2005 another movie would take up its role as the musical undercurrent. “Kal Ho Naa Ho” would command our attention; the jeeps speaker’s conduits of music and dance. From a distinctly Indian version of “Pretty Woman” to the profound “Heartbeat” which often thumped in perfect time with our own sorrow.

For five weeks we never got tired of hearing the seven tracks that made up the cassette tape and to this day it elicits an emotional response…overwhelming happiness, sadness, adventure, and disbelief.

As I listen to the tracks the memories, the craziness, sights, sounds, and chaos of India come flooding back in a torrent.  Pretty Woman especially, as it conjures up memories of a wedding celebrated in the freezing Solan hotel.

I have been lucky enough to have travelled throughout India on three separate occasions; each time in a different area of the sub-continent. Each time endearing me to the country for wildly different reasons and each time with a new set of memories, experiences, and stories to tell.

Each time with a newly rekindled flame for my return.

One of the more typical clichés used to describe travel through India is that it is an “Assault on the Senses”.  Another is that it takes a couple of weeks to fully realize how much you hate the place but once you get to that point and stay in spite of that feeling, India will crawl under your skin and you will be forever captivated…each departure simply meaning you are just that much nearer to your next arrival.

No matter what description a person opts to use in order to more completely relay an accurate portrayal of the country and its culture, it is likely mere words will be inadequate.

India is one country in particular where a one on one meeting is required; a face to face exchange of introspective thoughts and a place where personal constitutions are tested.  A foreigner in India can look inside themselves to discover compassion, understanding, and tolerance on levels unknown almost anywhere else.

India provides plenty of opportunity for bewilderment. She provides an endless onslaught of experiences from which a foreigner can draw and she injects herself into every pore of your being.

You become wooed, beguiled, and mesmerized as you tumble through the organized chaos that is India.

From all of that which is bestowed upon any traveler in India there will also come the inevitable connection to Bollywood. The constant stream of movies that touch Indian lives and enable unprecedented escapism for the vast majority of the population to fields of rolling green, snow-capped mountains, and respites of peaceful quiet harmony unknown to most in real life.

Apply these soundtracks to the experience acquired by a foreigner to India and the juxtaposition itself will illustrate perfectly an adequate description of this complex and intensely stimulating country.

To find out how this all came about; click Beckoned Skyward by an Earthquake.

To see more photos of India; click India – A Photo Journal

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46 thoughts on “Bollywood Soundtrack

  1. I loved my trip in India a couple of years ago. We went to see a Bollywood film in Jaipur and had songs that still remind us of places we went and experiences we had. Its definitely an assault on the senses and each day feels like a much longer experience because of all of the sights, sounds, smells and activity going on. A wonderful country and a brilliant post and photos. Thanks for bringing back memories!

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    1. My first Bollywood movie was also seen in Jaipur at the big crazy theater with all the neon. Was a great introduction and easy to see why so many see the movie as an escape.

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  2. I have also heard that India is a land of extremes where you can fall in love with what’s around you. I love songs which remind you of a place or time and which tingles your senses. And sometimes it’s the most unusual ones which do it.

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  3. Like most of the other comments, I have never been to India, but I would jump at the chance if it presented itself. I’m always amazing at how music can take you right back to a place and time, even if it’s just a song that was popular on the radio at a significant moment of your life.

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  4. Yes, India gives some mixed feelings! We started in Delhi. First time out of Europe, totally unprepaired. Well, you can imagine there was a bit of a culture shock 🙂 I have warm memories of that travel, and also some things I really did not like. I would love to go back one day! 🙂

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  5. Your storytelling is fantastic!! Never been to India… but i must admit that i don’t know if i’m ready for it… but I’ll probably hear the Indian calling and then simply go there!!!

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  6. I’ve never been to India either. But the video — which was fun — is not the image I conjure up when I think of India. Many friends have visited the country and both loved — and hated it — as you mention in your post. They loved the diverse culture and the historic sites but were appalled by poverty they saw everywhere.

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  7. This reminds me of one of my favorite old country songs called “The Song Remembers When.” (The concept, I mean, not this particular song.) Loved the video, it definitely brought a smile to my face. Wish I had some of the memories to go with it…

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  8. My favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning is flip through the cable channels until I find a Bollywood movie playing. I’m suddenly transported back to a time when my teenage daughter was three and would dance around the living room, mimicking the steps of the dancers. Imagine the memories I would have if I ever actually made it to India.

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  9. I’m very much a music person; my college degree is in piano. I have encountered some amazing music wherever I’ve traveled. Spontaneous 12 part (a guess) harmony in the middle of Africa, for example. It always feels so right for the spot. I even like Hawaiian music when visiting there, not usually my favorite. Thanks for sharing the images and text but also the music of India.

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  10. To me it’s amazing and indeed uplifting how a country so rife with poverty puts forth such joy in its music, film, and dancing. I really love watching traditional Indian dancing, and it also helps that So You Think You Can Dance has helped it become even more popular. Then there is also the colors one associates with the saris. One of my favorite recent movies is The Best Exotic Gold Marigold Hotel (who knew I have a thing for movies that focus on senior citizens, but apparently I do…) Time and again, it’s communicated how India is a place to find one’s self.

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    1. I love that movie as well Jeri as I kind of fancy myself as one of them when I grow older, or up :). India is definitely a place of contrasts and anyone traveling there cannot help but take a look at themselves and reflect a bit.

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  11. Each state here has its own set of attractions and specialties which are completely different from its neighboring ones. With so many languages and cultures residing in harmony, India is truly an Amazing country. If you travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on a train or from Guwahati to Ahmedabad, you can get a glimpse of India’s diversity(food, people, language etc) in the journey itself.

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  12. Amazing images and there’s no question the music is memorable. I’d be less than honest if I said all of the negative press in recent years hasn’t adversely colored my view of India. But it’s still nice to see positive stories and perspectives.

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  13. I’ve not been to India, but I love your description of it. I’ve heard and read other people express similar feelings about the country (perhaps not as eloquently as you have). And it is interesting how a soundtrack can be associated with a place and bring back memories. I’m now thinking back over my trips to remember what soundtracks I’d associate with them.

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  14. Tim, as a non-traveler, I sure enjoy traveling with you on paper and India is no exception. The dance was wonderful, especially enjoyed the part with the little ones, they all looked like they were having so much fum. Maybe I’ll do a little dance across my kitchen here ta da ta da.

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  15. It is really amazing how a song can instantly transport you to a different place and time in your life. I definitely have soundtracks that go with different times in my life. I’ve never been to India, but I’ve known people who’ve spent years living there. It is fun to get a peak at another country’s culture.

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  16. I’ve never been, but I have read of similar experiences where the traveler became completely captivated by the country and it’s people. I loved the soundtrack! LOL I think a lot of us have soundtracks for different periods of our lives or travels!

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    1. Absolutely Jacquie. I picked this song from the overall soundtrack because it was the most uplifting and because it was the underlying tune played at a wedding we were invited to later in the trip. Some of the other tracks are beautiful but haunting…one is called Heartbeat.

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  17. Oh I heard of Sharukh Khan before, he’s a big Bollywood star and Indian girls love him 🙂 Right?
    That’s so cool.. I actually only went to Kerala so far, and I loved it so much. Now I’ll probably give it a while till I visit the rest of India, as Kerala is so different and unique that I’m afraid I might not appreciate the ‘other’ India as much. Let’s see, but I definitely have to give it a go! Good to know one should stay a bit longer to overcome the feeling of ‘hatred’ and to let India get under your skin.. Thanks!

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    1. There are so many sates in India and they can be very different from each other. If you loved Kerala you should try Goa or for something completely opposite try Kashmir.

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  18. I’m a lover of Bollywood, too, and I love how big it is with the zumba market. It is just great music that lifts your soul and makes you feel happy, unlike alot of the music we have in the US. Makes exercising fun!

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  19. Haha, you gotta love the video of “Pretty Woman” ! I love it when music takes you back places! I’ve only been to India once, loved the absolute chaos! Recently read a book about a girl who drove the circumference of India on her own. Brave!!!

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  20. Hi Tim, I always appreciate being an armchair traveler on your site, vicariously learning from you.
    I have never been to India, but that may happen in future travel plans. I love distinct tastes, sights, sounds. I sure enjoyed the creativity and catchy Bollywood soundtrack. 🙂

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  21. I was in India so many years ago and like all countries I am sure there has been a massive change. I had never heard of Bollywood until I started watching a program “So you Think you can Dance” . It is a very high energy dance and I think it is great that we brought it to the US to enjoy.

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    1. I first went to India in 1998 and between then and now there have certainly been a lot of changes; but it is definitely still India…unlike anywhere else!

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    1. With 1.3 billion people in India it becomes very difficult to get lost in the woods. One of the things that took me a while to get accustomed to was the fact that there is no notion of personal space. People are always right next to you; even when waiting in line for something you can feel the next person only inches behind you.

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