Rhoma Irama, an Indonesian singer who has popularised the Indonesian folk music of dangdut, got some help in doing so from India’s most revered female playback singer.
A song by Irama in 1973, called “Terajana”, references “Tera Jana” from the film Anari (1959), which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Irama’s version was a big hit in Indonesia, and it established him as the pioneer of dangdut, a musical style that incorporates Indian, Malay and Arabic sounds.
Irama followed up the hit by persuading Mangeshkar to collaborate with him. Mangeshkar has sung in several regional languages, and she added Bahasa Indonesia to her long list by singing duets of famous Hindi songs to the beat of the tabla and kendhang. The lyrics were changed into the Indonesian language for local listeners.
“Mere Mitwa Mere Meet Re” from Geet (1970) became “Wahai Pesona” in the Indonesian version. Although the rhythm does not change, the inclusion of electronic instruments and percussion gives it a distinct dangdut sound, which is identified by its fusion of lyrics, rhythm and added orchestra.
The Rahul Dev Burman-composed romantic track “Saagar Kinare” from Saagar (1985), which Lata sang with Kishore Kumar, is reprised in the Indonesian version with Irama as “Di Tepi Pantai”.
Lata Mangeshkar also sang original songs in the Bahasa Indonesia language. “Sekuntum Mawar Merah” (One Red Rose) was written and composed by Irama. It sounds every bit Bollywood.