In a heartwarming tale of cross-cultural admiration, a young Saudi boy named Ahmed stole the spotlight at the Al-Janadriyah cultural festival in Riyadh in 2018. The festival, a vibrant celebration of diverse cultures, witnessed a significant Indian presence that included Bollywood performances. For Ahmed, whose love for Bollywood blossomed through VHS cassettes in the cinema-less landscape of Saudi Arabia, the festival became a pivotal moment.
Ahmed’s passion for Hindi cinema naturally led him to love its soulful songs. Despite not being fluent in the language, he discovered the universal language of music and began singing along to his favourite Bollywood tunes. His journey from private office parties to a grand stage at Al-Janadriyah showcased his blossoming talent.
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Spotted by a close friend managing the event, who worked for the Indian embassy, Ahmed seized the opportunity to fulfil his dream of performing on stage. With a bold gesture – tossing a small stone to catch his friend’s attention – Ahmed found himself on stage, facing an audience of 3,000 people. His song choices, including “Aankhon Mein Teri” from “Om Shanti Om” and “Chaand Sifarish” from “Fanaa,” resonated with the crowd, marking his first major public performance.
The success at Al-Janadriyah opened doors for Ahmed, attracting attention from the media and event companies. Despite the language barrier, his colleagues and staff, who spoke Hindi and Urdu, became his language mentors.
Expressing his cinematic preferences, Ahmed fondly recalls his first film, Amitabh Bachchan’s “Don,” and cites Boney Kapoor’s “Mr India” as his childhood favourite. His connection to Hindi cinema extends to personal interactions with Bollywood stars during visits to Mumbai as a child.
Post-Al-Janadriyah, Ahmed’s popularity soared, leading to invitations for performances, including one in Dubai where he sang in Tamil alongside renowned artists. Ahmed contemplates blending Arabic and Hindi songs to capture the essence of both musical worlds as his fan base grows on Instagram.
In a world where music transcends language, Ahmed’s journey reflects the harmonious fusion of cultures through the universal appeal of Bollywood melodies.
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