India's summer hit comes from the Bollywood blockbuster Rajneeti, an epic political saga.
In India, the country's most popular songs are often drawn from its biggest films. Travel writer and New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas says the country's latest hit, "Mora Piya," is no exception to the rule. "Mora Piya" comes from the soundtrack of the Bollywood blockbuster Rajneeti, an epic political saga that also follows a love story. Giridharadas says "Mora Piya" captures the cultural remixing that's happening in India.
"There's a kind of hip-hop bass line, there's some Western piano, there's sampling techniques all drawn from the West," Giridharadas says. "But there's a kind of Sufi, which is the mystical strain of Islam. ... The lyrics speak of unrequited love, which is an old theme of South Asian music, but in a contemporary way."
"Mora Piya" doesn't sound like the kind of festive, upbeat song usually associated with Bollywood, but Giridharadas says that's a sign of the times. The song reveals anxiety in a society where old certainties are slipping away.
"Families are breaking and people are migrating from the village to the city at the rate of 31 Indians per minute," he says. "Jobs are paying people more, but they're also demanding a lot more. I think there's a little bit of anxiety of this moment in this song. It's actually an amazing thing that a song like this became a smash summer hit, but it did."