Singing a new tune

Written by Ayesha Dominica Singh | Arunima Mishra | Updated: Oct 5 2009, 02:05am hrs
Dhan te nan! The title track of Kaminey with Gulzars lyrics and Vishal Bhardwajs stunning, gut-wrenching composition climbed its way to the top of the charts in no time. Of late, there have been quite a few foot-tapping, oh-so-lilting, different-sounding hits. Think Masakali, Genda Phool, Rehna Tu from Delhi 6, Jugni from Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Emosional Atyachar, Pardesi or Duniya, to name just three, from Dev. D . With AR Rahman leading the pack who are willing to take the road less travelled, musically, and experiment with new sounds, voices, instruments, theres new-kid-on-the-block Amit Trivedi, Sneha Khandelkar and others keeping pace.

Hindi cinema has known to experiment. Both Sachin Dev Burman and son RD belted out tunes that veered beyond the traditional Bollywood formula for film music. But is there a Bollywood formula Can there be one in a creative industry like music As singer Kailash Kher whose Allah Ke Bande Hasde still resonates puts it: It is practically impossible to define this so-called formula. Every time a new trend occurred in Hindi film music, there was a change. In Hindi film music, the unique has always been appreciated. For every 10 songs that sounded similar, you have one song that is inimitable.

Amit Trivedi thinks that the need to experiment with newer stories, newer concepts brought about a change in the typical films that were being made. I dont think there is any formula for music, its the musicians who come from different walks of life who define the kind of music that is being made today.

There are no such formula in a creative field, insist music directors Sangeet and Siddarth Haldipur. Wed call the new type of music being created the new sound of Bollywood and that sound is electronic combined with desi beats and instruments.

The audience is open to all kinds of sounds, and so there is an ear for everything. There is a lot more awareness about global music and the younger lot does listen to different genres of music. At some level, international exposure is going to make way for newer and never before heard sounds, adds Trivedi.

Offbeat music is obviously a success, and thus encouraging a whole breed of young musicians to experiment and think out of the box. According to Samir Saud, Director of Photography, independent music is working because its now complementing the films story line. If a song isnt really connected to the movie and actors get into a song and dance routine at random, it breaks the concentration of a viewer, who will detach himself from the movie for the duration of the song. Saud attributes the change to the realistic cinema on screen nowadays. With an offbeat track such as Emosional Atyachar, the story develops with the song. Also, Rock On 10 years ago would have been made very differently. It wouldnt possess the realism that the Rock On of today has. Today, realism is visiting cinema as people want it, he points out.

Music buffs will of course talk about AR Rahman and his revolutionary beats in Roja, Bombay and Dil Se which actually brought in a lot of changes to the Hindi film music scene. Lucky for Rahman and others like him, that a lot of new content too is being generated, giving them scope to experiment and grow. For example, Delhi 6 and Kamineys music add to the story. Says lyricist and music director Piyush Mishra: Even placing of a song in a movie, which was quite predictable earlier, is changing now. Cases in point being the title track of Omkara, Kaminey, where there are major action sequences in the backdrop of a song. Vishal Bhardwaj knows where to put the stops. Also, if the song has something to it, it boosts the progression of a story. With borders melting, theres a lot of sounds coming in from the world as well like hip-hop and R&B, promptly mixed with Indian tunes. But DJ Russel believes that we have a whole lot to give to the world in general and the music world in particular than just the borrowing of R&B and hip-hop and re-churning them out with desi beats. Songs should have meaning like those of old, he says. Today, a lot of songs have a groovy beat, catchy bass lines yet no real substance in the lyrics. The reason why Emosional Atyachar worked is that it is different, unconventional and keeps in line with the story. Masakali worked due to its sheer beauty. The music of Kaminey is very upbeat. Its drums and bass are practically anthemic.

The other thing thats keeping the music fresh are new voices. From Kher, to Soham Chakrabarty (In Dinon...), or...Neha Bhasin (Kuch Khaas Hai), Neeraj Sridhar (Chor Bazari). Kher points out that new voices contribute to the change in formula as every music director wants to do something unique. In most cases, a new voice is like a canvas. After Allah Ke Bande, a lot of singers, including myself, received opportunities that we previously lacked, he adds. A new, young voice will always have vibrancy or zing in his/her way of singing. That is when the song starts sounding fresh, point out the Haldipurs.

Ask any music lover whose music is on their iPod, and they are most likely to say Rahman and now perhaps even Amit Trivedi. Also, another trend thats emerging is that directors are opting for multiple music directors for one film, thus giving a new dimension to the music. Think films such as Zindaa, Dil Chahta Hai, Rock On!, Honeymoon Travels to name a few.

Of the 2009 releases, every music enthusiast agrees that Dev. D is distinct. Its nice to have a one-off break to the monotony, says singer-composer Shibani Kashyap. Now, with multi-music directors, a film produces a new music altogether. Bollywood has taken over independent music ever since pop music came into being with Baba Sehgal, Alisha Chinoi and Daler Mehndi. Earlier, it used to be formula based. The concept of independent music is not that new but now its been done more often.

Critics crib that the new music is technology influenced, and thus sometimes below par. There was a time from the 60s to the 80s when musical geniuses such as SD Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan, Salil Chowdhury, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji would make songs sitting with the director and lyricist, and they knew exactly how the song would ultimately turn out. If there was a formula then, it was that every creative person did his assigned piece of work, and there was no creative interference or obstacles, so the movies and songs made around that era had an artistic look, the songs had melody and every movie had a specific story and colour, say the Haldipurs. But now thats all been computerised.

Electronic music can only sound good to an extent, but melody lasts forever.

Is the music of Dev. D or Delhi 6 melodious enough to last forever Time will tell. Music directors like Trivedi are willing to take risks rather than stick to the formula.