Bollywood beckons after Lee goes from the Ashes to Asha triumph.
Written by: Richard Hobson
“Please give me one chance,
I know I’m not an Indy,
I promise I’ll make you laugh,
I’ll even learn some Hindi”
A heartfelt appeal for cultural tolerance in our troubled world? Or a pile of tosh? Whatever, these are some of the lyrics that have helped a song by Brett Lee — hitherto known as an Australia fast bowler rather than another Bob Dylan — to reach No 4 in India’s music charts in its first week of release.
The song is called You’re The One For Me and is performed by Lee as a duet with Asha Bhosle, the prolific and durable star of sub-continental entertainment immortalised by Cornershop in the United Kingdom No 1 hit Brimful of Asha ten years ago. Lee and Bhosle also appear together in the accompanying video, which is fast becoming a hit on the YouTube website.
Lee wrote the words in 30 minutes between matches at the ICC Champions Trophy last year, recording the track at a studio in Mohali and then hiring a hotel room in Bombay for the filming. He plays guitar and sings — as he promises — in both English and Hindi.
If the timescale suggests a low-budget production then the fusion in style of East and West has produced an interesting sound. And Lee cannot stand accused of being too serious. This is a happy piece and, in the best Bollywood tradition, his pleas do indeed win over the girl.
“We had talked about it for a while, but in the end it happened really quickly,” Lee, who missed the Twenty20 game against England yesterday because of a chest infection, said. “Asha is the Aretha Franklin of India, so it was amazing to work with her and it is just as amazing to hear the record.”
Lee is a keen musician who always takes his guitar on tour and used to play in a rock group called Six And Out with fellow members of the New South Wales side, including his brother, Shane. He has also played — though not recorded — with Andrew Flintoff, who is an enthusiastic karaoke singer and sang Rocket Man with Sir Elton John at a charity event in London last year.
After the Ashes were clinched by Australia in Perth last month, Lee was seen on stage in a bar popular with backpackers, strumming his guitar for a few songs, accompanied by a backing band that featured Alan Mullally, the former England seam bowler.
The success of You’re The One For Me underlines Lee’s popularity with Indian audiences. He has a healthy, clean-cut image and began to learn Hindi some years ago as part of a long-term plan to tap the potential market.
“I don’t know how many people have listened to the song,” he said. “As India has more than a billion people, I guess it is quite a few.”
Cinema is the next target. “I have about a dozen offers for roles in Bollywood movies,” Lee said. “I would love to get involved, but it is difficult because you need 50 or so days to shoot them. I plan to record an album after the World Cup. I am hoping to write songs that appeal to Indians.”
Before then, he may discover that his first effort appeals to the England and New Zealand teams as a vehicle for sledging during the forthcoming one-day series.
Lee’s success comes soon after Mark Butcher, the former England batsman, was knocked out of the BBC singing reality show, Just the Two of Us. But is Lee as good at ballroom dancing as Mark Ramprakash?