The ‘new age’ Hindi film song
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]an you imagine a Hindi film without music? Absolutely not! After all, gaana – bajana is synonymous to Hindi cinema. From serving as a romantic meeting point to creating the mood of a wedding or building up the tension to a suspense, music is fundamental to our movie industry. Over the years the quintessential Hindi film song has seen a drastic change and an evolution that has given way to new trends. Till a few years ago, only one composer would create the music for the entire film, but now we have several composers who work on various songs for one album. And how can you forget the evolution of the cabaret to today’s item number. Though there is much debate around them, the popularity of the Munni’s and Sheila’s cannot be ignored. Such is the diversity that music is witnessing today.
If you were to map the modification of the new age Hindi film song, there are few interesting trends which have caught on and cannot be ignored. Presenting to you key trends that are swaying today’s musical notes.
Language no barrier – Hindi songs are not restricted to Hindi alone. From Senorita to Chinta ta ta to Navrai majhi navsaachee, there is no barrier to popular words from other languages being incorporated in Hindi songs. Punjabi has always been the closest ally to Hindi music but now the industry is looking beyond boundaries and adopting words from foreign languages as well. What has sparked off this trend?
Vaayu, who has penned several Hindi film songs, the most recent being ‘Jhooth boliyan’ from Jolly LLB, says, “The trend of using popular words or creating your own new term has been existent since ages. Remember the song ‘Gapuchi Gapuchi gam gam’, it was gibberish, a self created word. But now we get to hear more of these different words primarily because of competition. With so many songs in the industry, you need to break out of the clutter. These days songs are used to heavily promote films and hence have to be catchy. Like for example, the song ‘Chinta ta ta’ received a great response and though people many not be able to recollect the entire song, they still remember the main phrase.”
So how do lyricists zero in on a catchy word or phrase? “Sometime the process of writing a song starts with a popular term, simply because everyone wants their song to be recalled by people and this is only possible when it’s unique. So there are only two ways – either there is a very simple melody that can get people hooked or if you’re making a dance number, which every second person is making these days, you need to stand out. So you either incorporate a popular word into a song or you choose a captivating word from any language and create a song around it.”
But can picking up a popular phrase from another language lead to a copyright tussle? Vaayu says, “If you’re using a popular word from another language or coining your own new term there are no copyright issues or any legalities that come into being as language is not owned by anyone. However if you are using someone’s writing it could lead to legal issues.”
He concludes saying, “Whenever I write song, I want to do something new. So I use words which you will not get to hear normally or I even coin my own terms. The toughest song I had to write was ’Karma dharma’ from Rakht Charitra. We had to create a song based on shlokas, so the entire mukhda of the song is in Sanskrit. We had to go through various scriptures and find shlokas that would match. We finally found some references in Shiva’s shlokas but they were still not apt. So we decided that we will make our own shlokas. We wrote the shlokas in Hindi and then got them translated into Sanskrit. There was a lot of back and forth involved but at the end the song came out very well.”
Recycle and reuse – Chartbusters of yore have never left our memory and their impact and influence is as strong today as it was in their hay days. From the title track in Bachna Aee Haseeno to ‘Khoya khoya chand’ in Shaitaan, ‘Disco deewane’ in Student of the Year or more recently ‘Dhak dhak karne laga’ in Nautanki Saala, music composers have added a new flavor to hit tracks from yesteryears and used them in today’s films thus sparking off a new trend. Directors like Karan Johar, Bejoy Nambiar, Rohan Sippy, Sajid Khan and several others have tapped the potential of these songs and given them a new spin with the help of talented music composers like Mikey McCleary (David, Nautanki Saala), Sajid – Wajid (Himmatwala), Pritam (Dum Maaro Dum) et all.
What goes into taking a timeless melody, keeping its value intact and lending it a new twist that works with the audiences of today? We speak to music director, Mikey McCleary, who has worked on several compositions including the famous numbers ‘So gaya yeh jahaan’ and ‘Dhak dhak karne laga’ used in Nautanki Saala. He says, “When I am choosing a song, I have to see if I can justify doing the song, I need to discover a kind of a twist to the way the song is done, present it in a fresh way but also ensure that it doesn’t ruin the song and keeps it true to its original soul. If I can’t offer something new, there is no point in me doing it.”
Mikey conveys his thought with a beautiful metaphor, “I prefer completely redoing a song. The song for me is like a beautiful woman, who has been wearing these old clothes for a long time and I’m just dressing her in new fashionable clothes, so people can see the beauty of the woman.”
But there also is a downside to this trend. Acquiring the rights of these songs often burns a big hole in the film’s budget. Is it worth the money spent? Though he is not involved in the financial aspect, he feels, “Obviously anything that has an instant connection and larger value for people, it must be worth a lot. Yes, it is a lot of value that adds to the film. Rights have become expensive and I have seen film productions where they have decided not to take the song because it is not worth the figures. The two songs I’ve done for Nautanki Saala were originally on T- series and even the film is from the same stable so there was no issue in terms of acquiring the rights.”
“There is a difference between remixes and new versions. What I try to do almost all the time is new versions. I think that is a new trend. Remixes were prevalent in the 90’s and early 2000’s where they took the old recording and added a lot of dance beats and musical beats. Often people don’t like that and it can kill the song in some cases,” says Mikey. We totally agree on that one.
The new crop – And lastly and most importantly, the new age musicians who have given Hindi film music an abundance of dimensions to explore. They employ fresh musical elements and constantly push their boundaries creating greater scope for music. Talented composers like Amit Trivedi, Ram Sampat, Sneha Khanwalkar and others believe in experimenting and the music of films like Udaan, LSD, Delhi Belly, Kai Po Che etc. is ample proof of it.
From incorporating regional flavor for a film like Kai Po Che to discovering folk artists and using their creations in a film like Gangs of Wasseypur, and also their imaginative use of acoustic instruments, these artists are pushing aside convention and focusing on innovation.
With such influences, Hindi music is surely seeing a upward trend and lots of good melodies in the making.