Jimmy Brown of UB40: I’m not a big fan of Bollywood, but I do have a soft-spot for old Hindi film

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“I always had a love affair with India,” says reggae veteran Jimmy Brown of acclaimed English pop band UB40 while looking back at his bond with the country. And that’s why he was deeply moved when India battled hard with the second wave of Covid-19 crisis earlier this year.

“My message for the country in these trying times would be a message of commiseration. Both India and England are unfortunate enough to have the wrong people in charge at the wrong time,” he rues.

Reflecting upon his fondness for the country, Brown, who grew up in Birmingham, shares, “It was Indian culture along with Caribbean culture that shaped the streets I lived on as a child. An inner-city melting pot. An area that was in decline, but was revitalised by the influx of immigrants from the ‘commonwealth’ in the 1950’s and 60’s.”

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Born in 1957, the drummer says all his early memories are coloured by being raised in that multi-cultural area. “Which is why, when I first visited India, it reminded me of home,” he tells us.

It was his tryst with India that made way for his admiration for Indian cinema, but not Bollywood particularly.

“As far as Bollywood is concerned,I’ve to admit I’m not really a big fan. But I do have a soft-spot for those old 1960’s and 70’s Bollywood movies that were made on old technicolour stock so they had those deep colours that used to be in old Hollywood movies of the 40’s and 50’s. And the women were a little more voluptuous,” he elaborates.

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For Brown, the road to stardom started with reggae when he, along with his friends formed the band in 1978, picking music to make political statements and address real life issues like racism.

Now, the band, credited for hits such as Red Red Wine or Kingstown Town, has infused diversity into latest album Bigga Baggariddim, for which they also collaborated with General Zooz from India.

“It’s very eclectic and reflects our belief that reggae is universal, generous, inclusive music for the whole world,” confesses the star.

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On an optimistic note, they’ve even planned a music tour in November, but India doesn’t feature in the list.

“So far, for 2021, it’s just the UK on the list. But hopefully, as things open up more (I hope), we’ll be travelling further afield. We shall see what 2022 brings,” he reasons, adding, “Honestly, I don’t have a clue how all this [tours] will pan out. I’m hoping things will go back to full venues again because it isn’t financially viable to tour with audience restrictions in place.”

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