Bol­ly­wood mu­sic is a mam­moth busi­ness and has spawned stu­pen­dous stars, but has also squeezed the space for in­no­va­tion

India Today - - SIGNATURE -

My par­ents were the first to in­tro­duce me to In­dian mu­sic. I was just five when I re­call my mother, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Pun­jab, lis­ten­ing to Hindi songs while study­ing, and my fa­ther used to host col­leagues through night- long soirees, and I grew up with them croon­ing melodies orig­i­nally sung by K. L. Sai­gal, Manna Dey, He­mant Ku­mar, S. D. Bur­man and Lata Mangeshkar.

Even­tu­ally, I de­vel­oped per­sonal favourites among In­dian singers, that in­cluded Kishore Ku­mar, He­mant Ku­mar, Manna Dey, Lata didi and Asha Bhosle. They have played a huge role in my choice of mu­sic as a pro­fes­sion, not as mod­els to im­i­tate but as icons to in­spire. I do be­lieve while mak­ing your own mu­sic, you should be orig­i­nal and have your own style, much like these vet­er­ans.

There are ma­jor dif­fer­ences when it comes to mu­sic of the two coun­tries. In­dian pop­u­lar mu­sic has pre­dom­i­nantly sprouted out of its film in­dus­try. Here, songs are made for sit­u­a­tions in a film, and singers ren­der them ac­cord­ing to the de­mand of the mu­sic di­rec­tor and the scene. Once ren­dered as au­dio, and then vi­su­alised on ac­tors, they gain phe­nom­e­nal at­ten­tion, as well as com­mer­cial and crit­i­cal suc­cess.

Due to a floun­der­ing film in­dus­try in Pak­istan, mu­sic found sev­eral other out­lets of pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion. Mu­si­cians and singers not only sought play­back as a means to fame, but also other forms such as the qawwali, ghazal, pop, rock, fu­sion, and what is now fash­ion­ably called Sufi, be­came more pop­u­lar. To­day, Bol­ly­wood has com­pletely taken over, leav­ing lit­tle or no space for in­de­pen­dent artists or un- fa­mil­iar styles. Tal­ent has very lit­tle room for ex­pres­sion in Pak­istan. With no film in­dus­try, all that our mu­si­cians could rely upon were pri­vate mu­sic chan­nels, which have since sunk in the rat­ings, as hys­te­ria for news chan­nels took over. Re­al­ity shows like Coke Stu­dio are the only re­lief.

A lot needs to be done, though, to cre­ate syn­ergy in mu­sic be­tween the two coun­tries. Mu­si­cians from both sides need to col­lab­o­rate more of­ten. Work­ing with the trio of ShankarEh­saan- Loy, dur­ing my first Bol­ly­wood film Tere Bin Laden, was a friendly, en­joy­able and valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence for me.

Also, mu­sic con­tracts in In­dia need to be up­graded. In­dian record com­pa­nies need to re­think and re­for­mu­late their con­tracts. Com­posers and lyri­cists should al­ways be the real own­ers of the mu­sic, as in the West. Rights should be shared, not bought. The singer, and ev­ery­one else in­volved in mak­ing a song a suc­cess, should ben­e­fit, not only from live shows, but from roy­al­ties too.

Some TV and ra­dio air­time should be ear­marked just for young emerg­ing tal­ent. It’s their right to be seen and heard, for the hard work they put in cre­at­ing their mu­sic. View­ers have the right to hear and watch di­verse tal­ent. Sea­soned vet­er­ans should have a place of their own too, which they de­serve. I also strongly feel that In­dia and Pak­istan should al­low their mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment chan­nels airspace in each other’s coun­tries. In this day of the In­ter­net, you can’t avoid com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Bet­ter open up the skies, be­cause sooner than later, the rhythm is go­ing to get you.

( As told to Prachi Rege)

Ali Za­far The writer is a mu­si­cian, singer and ac­tor from Pak­istan

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