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India Mourns Michael Jackson

India West, News Report, Lisa Tsering Posted: Jul 06, 2009

Michael Jackson had a deep impact on pop music and dance in India, and his death June 25, at the age of 50, is still being mourned by Indians around the world.

The Indian press has been filled with quotes from Indian artists, many of whom say they were profoundly inspired by Jackson.

Whatever Ive achieved was due entirely to the King of Pop, Prabhu Deva, a choreographer-turned-director known as Indias Michael Jackson, said in a statement.

Unfortunately, negative stories of his personal life and media hype plagued him till the very end. I am sad about all that. But whatever the truth of all the allegations and counter-allegations, there can be absolutely no doubt that he was a pucca entertainer, a great musician and a dancer par excellence. He might have died too early, but then, hopefully, he has at last achieved atma shanti. May his soul rest in peace.

A.R. Rahman stated on his Web site: I met him personally after the Oscars in Los Angeles and we vibed very well. He said that he loved India and the Indian people. He said he heard good things about me and he was praising the chord progression of Jai Ho's chorus. He was bursting with energy and told me that every dance move he did came from his soul and did a five second stunning example. It was like a lightning strike.

I dont think we will get to see another one like him in our lives, said Bollywood comedian Johny Lever, who entertained millions with his impersonations of the singer.

I officially had no training in dance and whatever I learned was from watching Michael Jackson by watching his videos, especially Thriller, over and over again. I consider him as my guru, Farah Khan told CNN-IBN.

Jackson appeared at the Bollywood Awards at Nassau Coliseum in New York May 1, 1999, dressed in an embroidered black Indian suit designed by Manish Malhotra, and accepted a humanitarian award for his role in promoting global peace through his Heal the World Foundation.

The first-ever Bollywood Awards, organized by Kamal Dandona, that year featured live appearances by Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Shilpa Shetty, Shekhar Kapur, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Karan Johar, Yash Johar, Andrew Lloyd Webber and many other personalities.

This reporter was there, and recalls the swell of affection the audience expressed for him.

Mahatma Gandhi was always a great inspiration to me and it gives me great joy and pride to be recognized by his people, said Jackson.

I have been blessed with so much and had an opportunity to do what few others can. But I believe it is more than just an opportunity: it is a duty I accept this award as a gesture of the courage of the people of India and as a commission to do more for mankind.

Bollywood Awards organizers told India-West that Jackson declined any remuneration for appearing at the event.

Michael Jackson's unsurpassed creativity and immensely loved music brought happiness to every corner of the world, said Dandona. We join today with his millions of fans in expressing our profound sadness and we offer our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

Jackson spent his last weeks rehearsing in Los Angeles for his grand comeback, a series of 50 shows in London scheduled to start later this month. But there were reports that he was suffering the effects of years spent taking excessive amounts of prescription drugs.

According to an Associated Press story, on June 27, spiritual teacher Dr. Deepak Chopra said he had been concerned since 2005 that Jackson was abusing prescription painkillers and most recently spoke to the pop star about suspected drug use six months ago.

Chopra said he refused to give drugs to Jackson, a longtime friend, who asked him for painkillers in 2005 when the singer was staying with him following his trial on sex abuse allegations.

Jackson had many other connections to South Asia.

Jacksons HIStory Tour touched down in Mumbai in November of 1996, and tickets sold for Rs. 1,500, 3,000 5,000 and 15,000, more than any concert the country had ever witnessed, a promoter of that show said in a Times of India piece.

He recorded Ekam Satyam, a song with A.R. Rahman, and appeared alongside Rahman and Prabhu Deva at the Michael Jackson and Friends: What More Can I Give? concert in Munich in June of 1999.

Jackson prominently featured an Odissi dancer in the cross-cultural video for his single Black or White, and joined her for some dance steps.

He was interviewed by Pakistani-British TV journalist Martin Bashir in 2003 for a controversial documentary for ITV, which was viewed by 14 million in the UK and 38 million in the U.S.

His autopsy was performed by chief medical examiner-coroner for Los Angeles County, Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran (see separate story). Jacksons connection to India lasted longer than his life itself.

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