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Music Has No Boundaries: 7 Indian Songs That Became Huge International Hits

Jimikki Kammal isn’t the first song from India to become a global hit. These 7 Indian songs went viral across the globe before ‘going viral’ was a thing!

Recently, Jimikki Kammal, a peppy song from Malayalam movie ‘Velipadinte Pusthakam‘, became an Internet sensation after it found a fan in American chat show host, Jimmy Kimmel. A Twitter user tweeted the a viral video of the song to Kimmel, asking if he had heard it. To the Twitterati’s surprise, Kimmel soon responded, saying that “he loves the song”, following which the already-popular song went viral on social media.

Today, the incredibly catchy tune has clocked millions of views on YouTube, making it the most watched Malayalam song ever. Estonians are singing along to it and Russians are dancing to its beats, though they have no idea what the words mean.

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Video: Russians fan perform to Jimikki Kammal

However, this isn’t the first song from India to have become a global hit. Several Indians songs have crossed the barriers of language, region and country to stamped their musical influence in foreign nations. People didn’t know who the composer or the lyricist was, or in some cases, even which film or album these songs were from. But this didn’t stop these records from taking the world by storm.

Here are 7 Indian songs that went viral across the globe before ‘going viral’ was a thing!

1. Awara Hun

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Video: The original song

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Video: The song being sung in Uzbekistan

It is fairly well known that Raj Kapoor enjoyed wild adulation in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. His film Awaara – dubbed in Russian and released as Brodiaga – left the Russians besotted. The first Hindi film to be successful in the country, Awaara’s title song became a huge rage, even being played at official banquets. In fact when Raj Kapoor went to Moscow for a special screening of the movie, his car (that was parked outside the theatre) never left the curb. The massive crowd of fans simply picked the car up (with the actor in it) and carried it off!

2. Mundian To Bach Ke

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Video: The original song

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Video: Foreign fans dancing to the song

In 2002, Panjabi MC jammed cross-cultural airwaves with their song “­Mundian To Bach Ke that went on to become a breakout international smash hit the top 20 in at least 15 countries. Sung in Punjabi, the fusion hip-hop groove went on to sell an estimated 10 million copies worldwide. The record also reached the number one spot in Italy and Belgium, and number two spot in Germany (where it sold over 100,000 units in two days!).

3. I Am A Disco Dancer

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Video: The original song

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Video: A Russian fan performing to the song

Released in 1982, the movie ‘Disco Dancer’ rocked the popularity charts at home and across the Soviet Union. Throughout the 80s, the dance halls at Russian summer resorts resounded with the beats of ‘I Am a Disco Dancer’, instantly transforming Mithun into one of the most loved next-gen Indian actors in the country.

Here’s an interesting anecdote from those days: When Mikhail Gorbachev visited India, Rajiv Gandhi introduced him to Amitabh Bachchan as India’s greatest superstar. It is believed that Gorbachev’s reply was that his wife only knew Raj Kapoor and his daughter only knew Mithun Chakraborty!

4. Tunak Tunak Tun

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Video: The original song

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Video: Foreign fans dancing to the song

Most songs fade from public memory in no time, while few manage to stay a little longer on their minds. Then there are those iconic ones that go on to build a cult following for themselves. Daler Mehndi’s 1998 song ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’ is one of these.

From Germany to Korea, the song became a rage among youngsters across the world after its release in the late 1990s. Mehndi’s iconic Bhangra steps in the video were also practised and replicated by these ardent fans. Recently, martial arts expert and megastar Jackie Chan shook a leg to Mehndi’s tunes at the 17th Shanghai Film Festival (the video went viral in no time).

5. Ichak dana Bichak Dana

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Video: The original song

[embedvideo id=”yTNYZyERf8s” website=”youtube”]Video: A street performer in Israel sings the song

Many an Indian visitor to Jerusalem has been pleasantly surprised to find an Israeli shopkeeper singing “Ichak dana bichak dana” (from the film ‘Shree 420‘) while strolling through the city’s ancient streets. Much of the credit for this song’s immense popularity in Israel go to the deep admiration Raj Kapoor (who featured in this song) evoked among the Russian immigrants of the city.

6. Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali

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Video: The original song

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Video: Japanese fans performing the song

The 1995 Tamil drama ‘Muthu‘ was the film that fetched megastar Rajinikanth the enduring title of ‘Dancing Maharaja’ among the people of Japan. The song “Oruvan oruvan mudhalali” and its positive message clicked with young audience of Japan and quickly became a rage. The immense popularity of the movie (it completed a 182-day run and grossed over 200 million yen at the box office) was also mentioned by Indian PM Manmohan Singh in his speech when he visited Japan in 2006.

7. Why This Kolaveri Di

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Video: The original song

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Video: The Gyas rowing team from Groningen (in Netherlands) pay a tribute to the song

Released in 200, the song “Kolaveri Di” became an instant hit and was the most searched video on Youtube by November 2011. Despite being a slow-beat track, the song’s catchy colloquial lyrics and amazingly groovy rendition (by Dhanush) also ensured that it became a global rage overnight, quickly garnering more than 125 million views (the first Indian song to reach this coveted mark). Voted the Top Song by CNN in 2012, Kolaveri Di also stood third in the global music list giving a tough time to Lady Gaga.


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Written by Sanchari Pal

A lover of all things creative and happy, Sanchari is a biotech engineer who fell in love with writing and decided to make it her profession. She is also a die-hard foodie, a pet-crazy human, a passionate history buff and an ardent lover of books. When she is not busy at The Better India, she can usually be found reading, laughing at silly cat videos and binge-watching TV seasons.