Friday, August 17, 2012

Bangkok Bollywood: Sumit Satchathep

Thai painting of Lord Vishnu

Apparently in Thailand there is a proverb that says, if you meet a Brahmin and a snake on the path, kill the Brahmin first. 

Despite this rather crude sentiment, the cultural ties between India and Thailand are ancient and deep.  Indian merchants sailed all up and down the coastlines of SE Asia selling silks and spreading the truth of the Vedas and the Way of the Buddha. The King of Thailand is considered the descendant of Lord Vishnu. Much of the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, have found their way into the art and religion of Thai Buddhism.

Bali is entirely Hindu. Angkor Wat, in nearby Cambodia, is the world’s largest Hindu temple complex.  In the modern period Sikhs, Gujaratis and Tamils have been traders and businessmen in Thailand since at least the late 19th century. 

In the school I attended in India we had several boys of Nepali and Sikh origin whose families had been settled in Thailand for generations. 

I love these sorts of connections. Finding people in places you don’t necessarily expect them. (Though as one Indian taxi driver in Sydney told me a few years ago, ‘No matter where you go in the world, you’ll find potatoes and Indians’, I shouldn’t keep being surprised.)  Tonight, thanks to the blog monrakplengthai I am psyched about sharing an amazing cassette.  This is music by a Thailand-born and bred Indian who sings in Thai but in the Bollywood style.  Here is the blurb about the music from that blog.

A greatest hits of Thai songs featuring Indian rhythms!  This collection is full of great new tunes from Phraiwan Lukphet, Phet Photaram and the star of the show, Sumit Satchathep!  Sumit was born to a family of Indian silk merchants in Bangkok's Bang Rak district.  Although his upbringing instilled in him an appreciation for the music of his mother country, his surroundings influenced him as well, and at the height of the brief 70's Luk Thung-Bollywood craze, the scene found its first bilingual voice.  Teaming with Chatri Sichon's former partner Yuphin Phraethong, Sumit had a run of duet & solo hits in the late 70's.  The first track here, written by Surin Phaksiri, was his biggest single... most versions today have clipped the flute intro because a skip in the master recording, but i decided to leave it in. (

This is music that is wonderfully different, yet oh-so-familiar.  I love the cover of the early 70’s hit Chal Chal Chal Mera Haathi sung half in Thai and half in Hindi!

Long live Indian Thai friendship!

         Track Listing:

01. sao ban na thi na rak
02. klin thup khwan thian
03. sut chaban
04. na fon an saen sao
05. rak thoe rak thoe
06. heman khruan
07. phaen din thai
08. pleng rak pleng khit thueng
09. rai yat muea khat ngoen)
10. luk
11. hen chai laeo
12. ham chai rak mai dai
13. bo rak phai thao nang
14. khit thueng aridang
15. khao khoi khieow
16. thephi khong phom
17. khatha rak

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