Famed Pakistani musician Sahir Ali Bagga, who is notable for arranging and lending vocals to a number of celebrated songs worldwide, has sparked controversy over a statement regarding India’s A.R. Rehman having the same rating as him.
In an interview with Icon, the renowned composer shared his views upon being known as Pakistan’s A.R. Rehman.
“I think A.R. Rehman is very good, but his rating is the same as mine,” he told the publication.
“None of his songs have gotten 500 million hits. My song with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, ‘Zaroori Tha’ has crossed 500 million views,” he added with excitement.
“Similarly, my song with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, ‘Main Tenun Samjhwan Ki’, is about to reach 1 billion views,” Bagga said.
Bagga, who has become quite a sensation in Pakistan, has immense fame on international avenues too. He has worked for Indian productions repeatedly in the past and delivered countless hits. However, he is aware of how regional and industry politics can affect opportunities from across the border for musicians in Pakistan.
When asked if all this has any impact on him or his work, Bagga said:
“Not for me. I can talk on the phone, listen to the idea, create the song here and send it there. But for the singers it’s a problem when situation becomes unfavourable between India and Pakistan.”
He added, “Sometimes we [producers] get flack as well. Like, there was an Indian composer Adesh Shrivastava, he’s passed away, he was very much against me. Then there is Abhijeet the singer,he’s very much against Pakistanis working in India. He’s ruined things a lot. Everyone knows about it, he keeps mouthing off.”
However, he maintains, the reality is that the entertainment industry in Pakistan is still nascent and very much in its developmental phase.
“India has such a strong film industry,” he says. “Our language, music, culture is all quite similar so it suits us to work for that industry. Whoever says ‘India needs us’ [our talent], we need them too. That’s why we go to India to work.”
Bagga, who has a career in music spanning almost two decades has worked in the industry with almost all big names. Having famous soundtracks of drama serials like O Rangreza, Khaani, Khudgharz, Ghar Titli Ka Par and films such as Jawani Phir Nahin Aani, Punjab Nahin Jaungi, Bin Roye, Dukhtar, Jeevan Hathi and Azaadi on his repertoire, Bagga has even collaborated with young talent.
It was only last year that he worked alongside the very talented Aima Baig for song ‘Baazi’ under the banner of Coke Studio.
“Aima is better than most of the women singers in the country right now,” he said.
“She’s good; she has a fresh new sound. Every singer needs to have a strong identity, when it comes to their voice, whether they sing folk, classical or pop. She makes it her own. She’s God-gifted and gives any song her own colour.”