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    I would love to sing for Bollywood: Shaggy

    [Interview by Hindol Sengupta]
    Wednesday, September 29, 2004
    International hip-hop and reggae star Shaggy has said he keeps returning to India drawn by the country''s soulful classical music and the glitz and glamour of Bollywood.
    "Indian music is really touching," Shaggy told IANS on phone from New York. "It is deeply spiritual and touches a chord in my heart, it draws me closer to the country."

    He also said he wouldn't mind belting out a few numbers in Hindi filmdom. "I am hoping the right song comes around and then I would love to sing for Bollywood. Bollywood is getting really big around the world."

    The chart busting singer of hits like "Boombastic" and "In the summertime" would have a concert in New Delhi on Friday and Mumbai a day later.

    He would be singing new tracks like "Hotshot", "Luv me" and "Get my party on", as well as old favorites like "Strength of a woman" and "Oh Carolina" and "It wasn't me" at the concerts.

    The singer was in India two years ago when he sang "Boombastic" at the Channel V awards in Mumbai.

    Shaggy, reggae's bad boy, renowned for his tongue-in-cheek lyrics and sexy stage act, has seen six of his singles go platinum.

    "Boombastic" won him a Grammy in 1995. The Jamaica-born, US-based star has performed in over 75 countries and has sold 10 million albums worldwide.

    The singer also said he bonded with India because the country, in many ways, is like his native Jamaica.

    "I'm from a country like India. Jamaica has similar problems and similar joys and warmth. I sense that warmth in India, that affection and love from the audience."

    The only problem, he said, was the rampant piracy in the Indian music market. "The response from the audience is always fantastic but the stealing is a big issue.

    "Unless the piracy stops it is difficult to consider India a major market for music," Shaggy explained. "How can any artiste think of good sales if everything just gets illegally copied?"

    Next in line is a scheduled holiday in India. "I want to come here without work, when I can do all my sightseeing. I want to see the Taj Mahal."
    The internationally acclaimed director from Assam has tied up with Mumbai-based producer Anish Ranjan for making three Hindi films -- all of them with high drama but with little or none of the 'masala' that forms the staple of so many Bollywood films.

    "I was looking for a right producer to make Hindi films and now that I have found one in Anish, I hope to make some good entertaining films without too many stars and devoid of the usual masala," Barua told IANS in an interview.

    "My idea is to see that people admit they saw a good movie after watching the film. I want to bring about a change in the taste of moviegoers so that no one can abuse the medium of cinema."

    Barua, 52, is a celebrated filmmaker having won a National Award in 1982 for his first Assamese film "Aparoopa".

    It was his "Hkhagoroloi Bohu Door" (The Catastrophe) that won him the National Award for Best Director (Golden Lotus) in 1995 and 15 international awards, including the World Peace Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.

    His films are unique in terms of a strong storyline and narration and he seldom deviates from making a humane statement through the cinematic text.

    "The three Hindi films that I am going to make in the next two and a half years would be truly sensitive and not cheat the viewers. I don't make films to cater to the audience but with an approach of social responsibility and accountability to the viewers," Barua said.

    One of the projects is tentatively titled "Butterfly Chase" to be shot exhaustively in the Himalayan heights of Sikkim.

    The plot of the new Hindi film revolves around a universal subject -- how terrorism destroys the social structure of a society and how young minds divert their energy from creating a peaceful world. "The subject is close to my heart as I come from a region that has for long been tormented by insurgencies," Barua said.

    The story of the film, written by Barua himself some 15 years ago, has been slightly changed with the plot now shifting from his home state of Assam to Jammu and Kashmir. It is about a five-year-old deaf girl who is abducted by militants.

    "Terrorism is a universal subject now and the problem in Kashmir is more well known than in Assam where the situation is a localised one. So the plot of the story is set in Kashmir," Barua said.

    "The story is about anti-terrorism, peace and humanity and I am sure people in general would like the film once it is complete."

    Several actors like Kay Kay, Gauri Karnik, Yashpal Sharma and Aditya Srivastava have already been signed on for the film due to begin shooting early next year.

    "Normally filmmakers fake Kashmir by filming in Himachal Pradesh. So we decided to shoot in Sikkim as the topography and the surroundings is much akin to Kashmir," the filmmaker said.

    Barua, who recentl


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