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Shania Up! to Indian music

Mumbai, Dec. 9: Shania Twain has gone desi.

The pop diva-cum-country queen, who is reigning at the top of the US charts with her latest album Up!, beating J.Lo at her latest and career-best, has gone to the top via India. Up! is the first album released by an internationally renowned artiste to have a special Indian version, recorded in Mumbai.

The album, released last week in the country by record company Universal, comes in two parts — a blue CD and a red CD — both available in the same cover. The same 19 tracks feature in both CDs, but while the red one is pure pop, the blue one, which uses Indian instruments, has a wholly Indian sound.

The album — which has the hit single I’m Gonna Get You Good written by Twain and husband/producer Robert “Mutt” Lange and features a space age Shania, clad in leather and battling aliens — is expected to be the biggest international release this year here and has opened to a very good response.

“It was Shania Twain’s idea to make the album in two parts, with an Indian version, because she is interested in Indian music,” said a Universal Music India spokesperson.

The Grammy winner, who visits Indian restaurants often where Indian music plays, finds the music “intriguing and beautiful”.

So she involved Indian born UK-based DJs Simon and Diamond Duggal, who flew down to Mumbai early this year and recorded the Indian mixes at the Anupama Audio Visual studio. The Duggals had earlier worked with Apache Indian.

The album features Rakesh Chaurasia on the flute, Raju Sardar and Shaikh Javed Mumtaz on the dholak, Sunil Das on the sitar, Hansraj Bhawarlalji Jawda on the violin, Ulhas Bapat on the santoor, Madhukar Dhumai on the shehnai, Laiqth Ali Khan on the sarangi, Firoz Shah on the harmonium and the vocals of Dayal Thakar.

The Indian CD is not aimed at the South Asian market alone, but has been released globally, except for the US market, where the two versions are pop and country.

The album is not only Number One on the US charts, but has also recorded the second best first week sales for 2002 (874,000 copies in the first week). Worldwide, seven million copies of the album have been released and they are disappearing fast.

Up! follows in the footsteps of Shania’s last album, the hugely successful Come On Over (1999), for which she walked the desert in a leopard suit in one of the videos.

Shania’s album is the official stamp on what has been going on in the West for quite some time.

Indian music — especially classical instrumental — is big in music and fashion circles, though the recognition may not be as straightforward as Twain’s.

Fashion shows and DJ music are heavily dependent on Indian music, featuring mostly the tabla, but also the sitar and the flute, but most of this is “sampling”, feel musicians here.

“Sampling” is the widespread practice of digitally extracting recorded passages and inserting them into new recordings. “Watch any low budget espionage film, and you will know what I am talking about,” says singer Bali Brahmbhatt.

There was another tacit recognition of the efficacy of Indian music. In a recent controversy, Truth Hurts used an old Lata Mangeshkar number Kaliyon ka Chaman, set to tune by Bappi Lahiri, in its hit single Addictive. Lahiri has sued the producers of the song for lifting his tune.

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