"Bollywood gave me national recognition," says Pakistani singer Falak Shabir, who is in Chandigarh for a performance and has been left much impressed by the "planned and clean city". The singer-songwriter talks about how independent artists fare in India and Pakistan and how not fall in the "trap" of playback singing.
Talking about why independant artists in Pakistan get more recognition as opposed to those in India, he jokes it's because of the lack of population. On a more serious note though, the musician says that it might be because talent is respected there, but not given more than one chance to prove itself.
"If you've come out with a song and it fails, it is highly unlikely for you to get another chance to prove yourself. In India, even bad songs are given so much airplay you have no choice but to listen to them," points out Falak.
Having risen to fame with his 2008 single Rog, Falak has sung songs for Hindi films I, Me Aur Main and Nautanki Saala among others. His experience of working in Bollywood has been smooth and the singer believes it isn't all bad if you pick quality over content.
"Once you've entered Bollywood, you are a playback singer, not an artist in your own right. So, you have to be very careful to not fall into that trap.
I see so many talented singers get lost in the world of playback singing," he says sadly.
Having sung in three Bollywood movies last year, Falak narrates an incident regarding the selection of his song, Saajna, which featured in I, Me Aur Main.
"I was approached by the makers of the film, who'd heard my songs on YouTube. A very last minute meeting was organised with actor John Abraham and all I had with me was my guitar.
So I sang an unplugged version of Saajna, which he immediately loved," smiles Falak, adding that Saajna was then mixed and recorded in one night and with barely any time for promotion as the film was due to release in a week. "But, it all worked out for the better," he smiles.
On being asked if he's faced any feelings of animosity whilst in India, Falak says that at times he feels like he has got more love here than he had back in Pakistan.
The air of tension between the two countries, believes the musician, is the fault of certain politicians who downplay the love the population at large of both the countries. "Zindagi ke itne bade samundar main achi machli ke saath gandi machli bhi toh milegi (in the vast ocean that is life, you're bound to find bad fish along with the good)," he signs off.