Cut to 2011. 22 albums (some rocking, some thanda) later, Sehgal stands tall as a brand unto himself, celebrating a golden jubilee of his film songs in South Indian cinema. As the Lucknow-born rap singer bags iconic film star Rajnikanth’s next production and the title song of filmmaker Allu Arjun’s  Badrinath, he snaps his fingers and grooves to the tune of his hummable tracks from his latest album, Cross Connection, a medley of fast paced songs pumped with interesting trivia and twists on the who-is-related-how to each other in Bollywood. That’s crossover music for you.

The papa of crossover music in India, Baba Sehgal on what makes his music so cool

Where did Baba disappear years after the pathbreaking success of his debut album Thanda Thanda Pani (a desi version of Ice Ice Baby Ice by Vanilla Ice) that also featured chartbusters like Dil Dhadke? “In no way did I disappear from the scene. I have released 20 more albums after Thanda Thanda Pani,” counters Baba, who always writes, composes and sings for his albums. “My latest album, Cross Connection, is being well received. It always feels good when people praise your music. I feel proud to be referred to as the ‘King of Rap’ in India.” The buzz doing the rounds is that Baba’s song Kadal Vandale from the Tamil blockbuster Singam (starring Surya) is being made in Hindi by Rohit Shetty (of Golmaal fame). He is happy the way his career has shaped up as he believes — “You get what you deserve.” Of course, there is an axe to grind with music companies over the cold promotion of standalone albums as opposed to film music

What is keeping Baba busy is playback singing in South Indian films, especially Telugu and Tamil. “I have sung 60 songs for all the major banners down South,” he reveals. “The recently released crop includes title songs like Ragada (from the Nagarjuna starrer Ragada), Singam, Mr Perfect (from the Telugu film Arya 2 starring Allu Arjun) and Maujaa Maujaa Re from the movie Brindavan.” The Southern spin began when he recorded the song Chik Chik Chiklette for the Chiranjeevi-starrer Rikshavadu.

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Herald

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