What influence has Bollywood had in Greek music?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Modern Greek, Music

Material drawn from forum thread ΙΝΔΙΚΑ ΚΑΙ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΙΑ. There is a book on the influx of Bollywood tunes into Greek music:

Ινδοπρεπών αποκάλυψη. Manuel Tasoulas & Eleni Ambatzi. 1998. Ινδοπρεπών αποκάλυψη [Revelation of the Indian-styled]. Athens; Περιβολάκι, Ατραπός.

Bollywood productions were very popular in Greece in the 1960s; my mother remembers watching them as a teenager. Greek music also has some resemblance with the kinds of music featured in Bollywood productions, via the family resemblance chain Greek–Turkish–Persian, Arabic–Indian.

As a result, the 1960s saw a substantial number of Bollywood songs repurposed as Greek hit songs. Not particularly obscure songs either: they include some of the most memorable songs of the 60s. Λίγο-λίγο θα με συνηθίσεις. Καρδιά μου καημένη. Αυτή η νύχτα μένει. Όσο αξίζεις εσύ. Είσαι η ζωή μου.

That trend appears to have dried up since the 60s. Popular Greek music does now occasionally borrow songs from the Arab world; e.g. Katy Garbi’s 1996 hit Περασμένα ξεχασμένα, which is a cover of Hisham Abbas’ Wana Wana Amil Eih.

(Ο κλέψας του κλέψαντος: Διαμάχη Ελλάδας-Αραβίας για τραγούδι της Καίτης Γαρμπή – People Greece has the producer of the song admitting that he got the song on a pirated tape in Jordan, and that he preferred to seek forgiveness rather than permission.)

But. The question is about Bollywood songs.

As one poster in the forum thread says,

Αυτό που κάνει εντύπωση είναι πόσο το ύφος άλλαξε όταν μεταφυτεύτηκαν αυτά τα ινδικά λουλούδια στο ελληνικό χώμα!

It’s impressive how much their style changed when these Indian flowers were transplanted to Greek soil.

Two CDs have circulated, Ο γυρισμός της Μαντουμπάλα “The return of Madhubala” and Το τραγούδι της Ναργκίς “The song of Nargis”, pairing 30 Indian originals and their Greek covers. Here’s the six Greek songs I recognise by title. I’m interested to read what readers make of the contrast.

DUNIA ME HAM AAYE HAIN: MOTHER INDIA, 1957. Naushad / Miina & Usha
Mangeshkar.

Καρδιά μου καημένη / Μπ. Μπακάλης, 1960 / Στρ. Διονυσίου – Γ. Κάλη

ΥΑ ALLAH, YA ALLAH DIL LE GAYA: UJAALA, 1959. Shankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar – Manna Dey

Λίγο – λίγο θα με συνηθίσεις / Απ. Καλδάρας, 1963 / Μιχ. Μενιδιάτης

ULFAT KA SAAZ: AURAT, 1953. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar

Αυτή η νύχτα μένει / Στ. Καζαντζίδης / 1959 / Στ. Καζαντζίδης

DUNIAVALON SE DUUR: UJAALA, 1959. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar – Mukesh

Όσο αξίζεις εσύ / Απ. Καλδάρας / 1963 / Μαν. Αγγελόπουλος

GHAR AAYA MERA PARDESI: AWAARA, 1951. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar

Είσαι η ζωή μου / Στ. Καζαντζίδης / 1959 / Στ. Καζαντζίδης – Μαρινέλλα

AAJAO TARAPT HAI ARMAN: AWAARA, 1951. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar

Μαντουμπάλα, 1959 / Η επιστροφή της Μαντουμπάλα, 1964 / Ήρθα πάλι κοντά σου, 1959 / Στ. Καζαντζίδης / Στ. Καζαντζίδης – Μαρινέλλα

You’ll notice that half of these were sung by Stelios Kazantzidis. I used to snob off Kazantzidis when I was a kid, and I’m sure a lot of his contemporaries snobbed him off too, for picking Indo-Gypsy songs (ινδογύφτικα, as Tsitsanis maliciously called them).* It takes time for an outsider to get what he speaks to in the Greek soul. It takes maturity to recognise that those Indo-Gypsy songs resonate deeply with the Greek soul for good reason.

It’s just the icing on the cake that the Greek songs and the Indian originals repeatedly share the Arabic word دنيا (dunya), ‘world’, and its connotations of it being in opposition to Heaven.


* All the more maliciously, because Manolis Angelopoulos, who sang #4, was Roma. And of course of the two names the Roma were traditionally given in Greek, tsinganos and ɣiftos, ɣiftos is the more negative. In fact, rendering ινδογύφτικα as “Indo-nigger songs” would not be that inaccurate.

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