Filmy music: Current situation

Posted on June 19, 2012

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I am a big fan of Hindi film music (not a fan of the term Bollywood). Of late the choices are huge , the names are big but somehow the zing is missing. Lot of new music directors, singers are popping up but somehow the formula is getting repeated. Today’s formula (for the past 3-5 years) is to get a couple of sufi or Punjabi tracks, one compulsory track from Rahat Fateh Ali Khan , a retro romantic number with 1-2 remixes and then an item number with at least 3-4 remixes. The biggest culprits here are Pritam and Vishal-Shekhar.

Lets look at a few names here and their trends starting with the usual suspects

Pritam:

Gaining popularity after Dhoom and Vishesh films music Pritam was churning hit after hits. It seemed Mahesh Bhatt had found a new melody maker after Nadeem-Shravan.Life In a metro, Murder,Jannat, Jab we Met etc etc all were great. But look at his recent tracks Bodyguard, Ready, Golmaal 3, Agent Vinod.  He is often repeating his own tracks.There is absolutely nothing new. Even the recent chart-buster Jannat 2 , similar kind of tracks being repeated by different singers. His recycling of chart busters from neighboring countries have attracted a lot of controversy too. But at least we get a chance to hear our amazing neighbors. Recently the one track that stays in my mind is “Te Amo” from dum Maarao Dum. That is vintage Pritam .

Vishal-Shekhar;

Started as the new techno kings of India. With mind blowing remixes and music in Kaante, Musfair and delightful peppy compositions of Pyaar Mein Kabhi kabhi and Jhankaar beats, they arrived on the scene with a bang. Under Sharukh’s patronage and Dharma’s banner they gave decent outings for Om Shanti Om, RaOne, Dostana etc. But again off late nothing new to talk about with average composition in ” I hate Luv storys, Anjaana Anjaani, Tees Maar Khan (with the most vulgar Sheila Ki Jawaani). Degradation from Yaar Mangiyasi in Kaante ( a truely fantastic number) to Sheila Ki Jawaani was pretty fluid and rapid

Shankar Ehsaan Loy:

What happened to these guys, seriously?. Shankar Mahadevan was a true fighter.I remember the days when he used to give background vocals or classical portions for Anu Malik’s pathetic songs as Kumar Sanu or Udit Narayan didn’t have that ability.But he stuck around and with “Breathless” truly stole our breathe away. His compositions along with Loy and Ehsaan for Rockford, Mission Kashmir, Dil Chahata Hai, Kal Ho Na ho were fantastic. Sonu Nigam , Shaan, KK all sounded magical in their compositions. Recently London Dreams and Rock On was fantastic. Difficult to compose all the songs for movies which have a rock band as the protagonist but they did that fantastically. But Don 2 , Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara, Game, Houseful are just pathetic.Find your groove guys, I am truly missing you.

Amit Trivedi:

This guys is just amazing. Dev D , Udaan, Wake Up sid (Iktaara). All truly original. His style is totally unique. Udaan as a music album is exemplary. He has the balls to stay original and unique if he is used by the right kind of film makers like Anuraag Kashyap who just lets him free. But if you have Dharma Productions or YRF you might see average to mediocre music like seen in Ishaqzaade and Ek Main Aur ek tu. But this “average” is still different to hear and you feel like listening to more than once.

Ram Sampath:

New kid on the block . Good original style. Had shown promise in “khakee” till he faded into oblivion but back into prominence with Delhi Belly. Also his compositions for Satyameva Jayate are very good. Makes you think that the film maker’s contribution to this is is so important. Amir’s vision has made the songs very likeable.

Salim Suleiman:

Just about ok composers with a few decent outings here and there. They just have one unbeatable track ” O re Piya”  from “Aaja Nachle”

Vishal Bharadwaj:

As rare as Haley’s comet. But when he composes, the results are fabulous. It is a pity that he now composes for only himself. He should be composing more. His team with Gulzaar is formidable. Maachis, Satya, Kaminey, Saat Khoon Maaf are true gems.

Then we come to the King

A R Rahman:

This guy is god. I cannot list his filmography as it will eat up the whole space. But originality, uniqueness and style for each of his albums are simply amazing. From Raavan to Rockstar last year has been a treat. I didn’t like Robot. The most amazing part of his music he always tries to blend in classical aspect of Indian music. Every album will have at least one song which uses Indian classical music. I was never a fan of classical music but the track from Yuvraaj “Manmohini” changed my opinion.  Unfortunately sometimes his unreleased numbers are the best like “Shauk Hai from Guru” to “Jaa Re Ud Jaa from Raavan”. He does not stick to any formula, very rarely he has any remixes and most of the time he is original. He composes patriotic songs like no one else. His patriotic songs have so much energy. “Bose” has some excellent compositions like “Jai Hind” and “Ekla Chalo re”. Range De Basanti’s Khoon Chala is mind numbing.His album Vande Mataram is an absolute beauty.  Even being a muslim ,his religious tracks (catering to other religions) are exemplary just showing how profound is his knowledge of Indian culture and music . His tracks in Lagaan ” Radha Kaise na jaale” or Aarti from Delhi 6 display that knowledge. Being from southern India he still composes brilliant Punjabi tracks , poetic begali compositions (listen Ghoomparani from Bose) and sweet Gujrati tracks(Guru).  His music actually defines the story and the background score carries forward the flow. The distinct sound of shehnai defined Swades and Sharukh’s angst, the blood curdling “Bombay theme” described the bloody riots of Mumbai. And I still don’t know why but the first time whenever I hear his music , I hate it. It almost takes me a month to actually understand the quality. You keep on peeling layers after layers in each listening and that’s why I never tire of his songs. Year on year I wait for his album to come out.

Other unmentionables:

Sajid-Wajid:

A serious joke. When they came on as judges in Sa-re-ga-Ma they insisted on showing their classical background and Gharana, but time and again their music is just plain mediocre to downright cheap. Dabaang, Rowdy Rathore, Housefull2 are shining examples of the pathetic music churned out by them.

Himesh Reshammiya:

The torturous days of nasal atyachar are thankfully less nowadays. He had a brief comeback with “dangerous Ishq” where he is trying to what he did in his good old days. Hope he stays grounded.

Ismail Darbar:

One movie wonder. No more comments

So the past  few years have been  very predictable in the music scenario with item numbers taking a center stage (as much as the senseless films). We have lost our pop culture which gave rise to these amazing singers like Shaan, Sonu Nigam , KK and brilliant composers like Sandeep Chowta, Biddu etc. Pakistan has an amazing pop culture with great stars coming out like Shafaqat Amanat Ali, Strings, Ali Zafar, Mustafa Zahed, Atif Aslam. All our reality show stars are actually going nowhere. There is a strong need to blend classical music with contemporary music. And please create a classification of all mass and Masala music creators like sajid wajid, Pritam and give them a serious break along with their paymasters like Sajid Khan, Prabhu deva, Arbaaz Khan, Farah Khan, Shirish Kunder and Karan Johar like Mr Anu Malik who keeps enjoying his extended stay on Indian Idol and keeps us away from his god-awful tracks.

Also there is a strong need to promote music in Television. These soap operas could use a welcome change rather than the blaring background score being currently used. In US some of the sitcoms/ programs use good music. Like scrubs, raising hope , ER, Missing had some brilliant songs original and borrowed from popular chart busters. But they added a lot to the story. Amir has started that trend with satyameva Jayate hope others follow.

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