Mobilizing   India
Remo Fernandes and Rikki Jai - "Chutney-Soca":
Anyone familiar with popular Hindi films of the 1980s and 90s would recognise the voice of Remo Fernandes. He has composed and/or sung several major hits over a fifteen year period, including "Jalwa" (from Jalwa, dir. Pankaj Parashar, 1987), "Humma Humma" (from Bombay, dir. Maniratnam, 1995), "Pyar to hona hi tha" (from Pyar to hona hi tha, dir. Anees Bazmee, 1998) and "Huiya Ho" (from Khamoshi: The Musical, dir. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, 1996). Some would also know Remo as one of the most interesting independent musicians singing mainly in English since the 1980s. A series of best-selling albums, comprised of witty socio-political criticism as well as party music, dot his long and still-flourishing career, which began even before the idea of an Indian pop music as distinct from film music was more or less unthinkable. Although his voice is familiar to the enormous audience for Hindi films, Remo has acquired the reputation of a somewhat avant-garde pop musician, his considerable talent appreciated in its diversity (Remo sings, composes music, plays the electric and acoustic guitar, the bamboo flute, drums) only by the small number of people who follow independent contemporary music in India.

The language question came up when the singers were discussing whether they should do their collaborative song in English or in Hindi/Bhojpuri. The reason for this issue to come up at all could have been that while Rikki is famous for calypso and chutney-soca, he does often sing Hindi film songs and Bhojpuri chutney while Remo, although he sees himself primarily as an English singer, is more famous in India for his Hindi film songs. Rikki's desire to break into the market in India must also have prompted this discussion about which language to adopt. There is a tension here between this desire and wanting to sing, as Rikki declared, for a "world audience".

Eventually, both the singers, Indian as well as Indo-Trinidadian, settled for English, the language they were most comfortable with. Curiously, as it turned out, there are many more Hindi words in the Afro-Trinidadian Denise Belfon's song to which Remo responded than in the song he composed with Indo-Trinidadian Rikki Jai. The Rikki-Remo song, tentatively titled "Chutney-Soca", is a playful comment on the genre which has enchanted the visitor from India who sees everyone - "man, woman and child" - wining to the chutney beat. Rikki's verse narrativises the location and kinetic effects of chutney-soca; it is a Trini invention that the Indo-Trini offers to the India Indian who wants to "take it home".

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