They say the language of music knows no barrier. Staying true to this age-old belief, there are musicians across the globe, whose compositions are not meant for a limited audience, but instead hold universal appeal. Be it the lyrics or the use of musical instruments, these songs are amalgamations of various cultures from different countries in the world. Another way of making such soundtracks click is through music videos. Nowadays, people respond more to visual media, and if the video is well-made, the track is bound to gain popularity. While Indian artistes have been filming their productions in foreign locales for quite some time now, there are a few occasions when the nation becomes the chosen destination for international numbers. India is vibrant, picturesque and cost-effective, with a rich history in music, making it an ideal place for filming these videos. These recordings explore the lesser known facets of Indian diaspora, and also attract viewers from elsewhere owing to the rustic beauty of the country. Though few and far between, these are 10 popular international music videos that were shot in India.\
1. Minds Without Fear—Imogen Heap Feat. Vishal/Shekhar
‘Minds Without Fear’ was sung by Grammy Award nominee, English singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, which also features Bollywood music composer duo, Vishal/Shekhar. The song was a venture of a musical series aired on MTV India, which aimed at providing a common platform for singers and composers from across the world to share their love for music. The soundtrack, inspired by Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, ‘Where the Mind is without Fear’, was filmed in the streets of Rajasthan’s Pink City, Jaipur, and the Samode Palace.
2. Let’s Go—Calvin Harris Feat. Ne-Yo
This single by DJ Calvin Harris, featuring American singer, Ne-Yo, became highly popular across the world, mainly owing to its vibrant video. The song has been filmed not just in India, but in various other countries. Local citizens are shown dancing to the fast soundtrack, and Ne-Yo’s voice is absolutely peerless. It received a nomination at the 55th Grammy Award in the category, ‘Best Dance Recording’. This hit was used by Pepsi for an advertisement featuring soccer stars Jack Wilshere, Fernando Torres, Lionel Messi, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Sergio Agüero and Wojciech Szczęsny.
3. Lean On—Major lazer & DJ Snake Feat. MØ
The fact that ‘Lean On’ was shot in India, is one of the main reasons why it became one of the most streamed tracks of the year. No doubt it is peppy, but Major Lazer and DJ Snake included strong Indian elements in their song. Shot in the premises of a magnificent palace in ND Studios, Karjat, Maharashtra, the music video has a rich, royal, Indian feel to it. The dance, which is no doubt Bollywood style, has been choreographed by the talented Paresh Shirodkar. The single, from the album, ‘Peace is the Mission’, was such a hit that it featured on Billboard Hot 100 at number four and the UK Singles Chart at the second spot. What’s more, it has been announced that ‘Lean On’ would be the official song for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
4. Bounce—Iggy Azalea
Iggy Azalea, the British pop icon, is a fan of Bollywood films. She insisted that the music video for her song, Bounce be shot in India. The song was filmed not only on a Bollywood set, but also on the streets of Mumbai, with the theme of a wedding. Azalea is mostly seen as a bride, wearing a red lehenga, performing the jhatkas and matkas that are so centrifugal to a Hindi movie. The rapper’s stylist and designer admit that her look was inspired mainly by yesteryear actress, Parveen Babi. She also sits on top of an elephant, travels in an auto, performs along with Bollywood dancers in the background, and finally rides away in a scooter.
5. The Cave—Mumford & Sons
The third soundtrack from the debut album, ‘Sigh No More’ starts off with the four band members riding on the roads of Goa. They halt, and say “Accha dost, yeh aapke liye hain” in Hindi, before handing over their instruments to members of a marching band. This single received nomination for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 54th Grammy Awards. The music video shows the marching band members lip-syncing to the lyrics sung by Mumford & Sons. It became so popular that the channel VH1 featured it in its Top 40 list.
6. Across The Universe—The Beatles
This song, penned by John Lennon, first featured on the album, ‘No One’s Gonna Change Our World’. The album also included soundtracks by several other artistes. Subsequently, the song was included in The Beatles’ final production, ‘Let It Be’. This video, which was shot in India, is not an official one, but even the lyrics show strong influences of the nation’s culture. Lennon sung his own rendition of the chant, “Jai gurudeva Om”, giving a soft, melodious touch to this single.
7. Shankara—Highlight Tribe
The Highlight Tribe, a French group specializing in trance music, expresses their love for the beaches of Goa in the music video of ‘Shankara’. The song is abundant with Indian elements, and also includes footages of their performances in the country.
8. Kill The Power—Skindred
This song, from the ‘Nu Metal’ forerunner, Skindred’s fifth studio album, ‘Kill the Power’, has been shot in the lanes of India and inside the auto rickshaws of Maharashtra. What makes this music video captivating is its honest portrayal of the common citizens of the nation. The band claims that this song is dedicated all those across the globe who are oppressed and want to break free from the shackles of exploitation. According to them, the answer lies in killing the roots of power, not fighting it.
9. No Rest For The Wicked—Dub FX Feat. Mahesh Vinayakram
Famous beat boxer, Dub FX has collaborated with Mahesh Vinayakram, a Carnatic classical exponent, and rapper CAde, to produce the fusion song, ‘No Rest for the Wicked’. The video was shot in Andheri, Mumbai, on the top of a terrace. The song is hypnotic and enchanting, owing to the drum and bass combination, along with a live recording of the local mosque’s prayer call.
M.I.A., an English rapper born to Sri Lankan parents, has recently released a new album, Broader than a Border, the songs of which have been filmed both in India and West Africa. The song, ‘Swords’, which is exclusively available on ITunes, has been shot at an Indian temple. The video features women practicing the art of sword wielding, that is gradually disappearing from the country.