The ‘90s were an amazing time for the Indian entertainment industry. Govinda was running riot at the box office. The Khan trio was just about getting ready to start a Bollywood hegemony. Doordarshan, would you believe it, was still a viable option for entertainment. And, India's first and original wave of popstars was ruling the charts. From Alisha Chinai to Baba Sehgal, their intrigue was unmatched, their effect unforgettable. Some of these original pioneers are still around. Some others have found new callings. In this piece, let us relive some of their smash hits and find out what they’re up to now.
Baba Sehgal: A qualified electrical engineer, Baba was the original Indian pop superstar. From 'Dil Dhadke’ to 'Baba Deewana', from 'Thanda Thanda Paani' to 'Manjula', he ruled India's music charts through the 1990s. Music apart, Baba also dabbled in cinema ('Miss 420') and then moved on to the Telugu film industry. He is still musically active and regularly releases his numbers on a YouTube channel.
Alisha Chinai: She is India's pop princess whose smash hit 'Made in India' launched the age of non-Bollywood pop music in the country. Popularly known as 'Babydoll', Alisha got a chance to sing 'Made in India' only after the Pakistani singer Nazia Hasan turned it down. Apart from pop hits such as 'Jadoo', 'De De Mujhko' and 'Lovergirl', Alisha also had a successful run in Bollywood, with her song 'Kajrare' from 'Bunty Aur Babli' turning out to be a chartbuster.
Devang Patel: Since becoming a household name with foot-tappers such as ‘Meri Marzi’ and ‘Stop That’ in the early 1990s, the ‘King of Dandiya’ has managed to stay relevant with almost every age group of audience with his ever-green Navratri songs and dance performances. The lyrics of his parodied songs are genuinely cringe-worthy but they also, unfailingly, bring a smile to our faces. For the folks who are not yet in their 30s, please be warned before venturing into this world of 'hatke' music. Devang is still making music that is pure, populist gold.
Shweta Shetty: Aside from pop music, this singer with an inimitable voice also dabbled in movies with chart-busting item songs such as ‘Poster Lagwa Do’ and ‘Dilli Ki Sardi.’ The title tracks on her fourth and fifth album ‘Deewane To Deewane Hai’ and ‘Tote Tote Ho Gaya’ remain nostalgic favourites to this day. Having battled depression and a failed marriage, Shweta is back in India and performs with a travelling band - Soul2Soul.
Neeraj Sridhar: The founder of Bombay Vikings caused quite a sensation by combining Hindi and English to produce songs in Hinglish in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Some of his remixed hits include ‘Kya Soorat Hai,’ ‘Chod Do Anchal’ and ‘Woh Chali.’ Then, Neeraj simply disappeared and resurfaced only in 2006 with several Bollywood hits to his name.
Anaida Parvaneh: The multi-talented singer, who can sing in 11 languages, took the Indian pop industry by storm almost immediately. Anaida became a big name in music with songs like ’Oova Oova’ and ‘Hoo Halla Hoo’ and has stayed in the industry ever since before venturing into different businesses. Her lyrics for 'Hotline' (Suna hai tumhe bad boy samajhte hain) are unparalleled and will likely remain so.
Band of Boys: Close on the heels of the success of the all-girl pop outfit 'Models' came this all-boy avatar of pretty much the same thing. With five handsome young men/models in the line-up, musical abilities were obviously at a premium. But that did not stop Karan Oberoi, Siddharth Haldipur, Sherrin Varghese, Chintoo Bhosle, and Sudhanshu Pandey from belting out the hit 'Meri Neend Ud Gayi Hai'. Plans of a reunion surfaced in 2018 but nothing much seems to have materialised since.
Anamika: This pop artist was an instant hit with her first album ‘Catwalk’ in 1996 for which she won many accolades. She followed it up with her second major release ‘Intezar’, which featured some catchy numbers like ‘Kaala She Kaala’ and a remix version of ‘Kahi Karta Hoga Woh Mera Intezaar.’
(If you think we have missed out on any popular names, do tell us in the comments section)