Oye oye in the airport

by vpundir | June 8th, 2007

So, my Air Canada flight was scheduled for departure at 6.20 a.m., and deciding to follow the “for international flights reach the airport at least 3 hours before flight time” rule for a change, I arrived at the airport at 3 a.m. only to find it almost completely deserted. Airline staff arrive only at 5.30, whispered another early-bird.

“Lovely”, I thought as I sank into the apparently only chair in the whole ticketing/ check-in area.

Imagine my joyous surprise then, when as I was waiting for the airline staff to arrive, the music being piped into the airport changed to “Oye oye”, probably the most insanely popular song in 1989’s India.

In fact, I remember that singing this song in public was banned in several districts of the nation for quite a while as it had become the weapon of choice for eveteasers.

Within a few seconds, however, it became clear that it wasn’t Tridev‘s Tirchhee topee waley (Guy with the tilted hat) that they were piping.

Turns out that like numerous Bollywood favorites, “Oye oye”/ “Tirchhee topee waley” also borrows heavily from a foreign song, specifically “Rhythm is gonna get you” from the 1987 album “Let it Loose” by Cuban-American Latin-pop rage Gloria Estefan of the Miami Sound Machine band.

Now, I have appreciated Estefan’s songs like “Don’t wanna loose you now”, but I must admit that I was not familiar with her earlier work. It took some effort to figure out that it was her song that was being played. That Pitbull and Beyoncé have “Oye”, Santana and Tito Puente have “Oye como va”, and Estefan herself has “Oye” and “Oye mi canto” didn’t help.

All plagiarism aside, the overture of “Rhythm’s gonna get you” flows better as the signature and essence of “Tirchhee topee waley”, in my biased opinion.

Anyways, I do feel a bit disappointed about the rip-off even though I know fully well what Bollywood music is: mostly a mishmash of popular music from around the world.

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