An Open Letter to the Bollywood Music Composers of Today

Dear “Music Directors”,

This is not about the fact that every second song in Bollywood has the words “daaru” and “party” in it. This is not about the fact that auto tune overshadows the actual voice of every singer in every goddamn song that is released. This is not even about the fact that a majority of Bollywood songs today are so damn cringeworthy because of the misogyny present in them. No, this is simply about the fact that music in Bollywood (and by extension, most of India) has become unimaginative, boring, repetitive, and a commercial money making racket without any effort towards the art form.

The music industry in this country is dominated by Bollywood. Most, if not all, of the music that the masses of the country listen to comes from Bollywood. And that wasn’t a bad thing some years ago. Greats like S.D. Burman, R.D. Burman, Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, and A.R. Rehman composed some beautiful music. I remember, when I was younger, listening to the radio for hours on end, and loving most, if not all, of the songs which aired. This era of Bollywood music was not only saturated with great music directors, but also some of the best singers I’ve ever heard.

Oh, how things have changed.

The other day, I decided to turn on the radio because I was frankly bored out of my wits. A song was playing, in which a Honey Singh-esque dude (I know it wasn’t the man himself because, and I hate to say this, I’ve heard his obnoxious creations being played out in public places way too many times) was rapping the following lyrics:

Hot summer, na tujhe khabar
Main tera lover, mujhe teri fikar
Ho gaya main full baawla
Jab se tujh se aankhein lad gayi

The song went on like this for a bit, and then this woman with a blatantly autotuned voice sang:

Hot summer upar se main bhi hot
Aaja saath laga le mere do tequila shot
And just do that, do that, do that, do that
Pani Wala Dance

Why is no effort being put into creating a lyric that actually makes sense and gets people enamoured with the music at the same time? Why has creativity died in this industry? What makes me really mad is that these songs aren’t one-time occurrences. They’re actually the norm. “Aaj blue hai paani, aur din bhi sunny” is another such example. And to think that “that’s the way, mahi ve” was the worst rhyme I thought I’d ever hear.

I’ve noticed that there have been no good playback singers after maybe Sonu Nigam (in my opinion, Arijit Singh does not count as a good vocalist). It’s not the fact that there are no good singers in the country. That is just statistically impossible, seeing as we have a population of 1.25 billion people. I think the problem is the fact that talent just isn’t the prerequisite to be a playback singer anymore. You so-called music directors just don’t make songs to which a good singer can add something. A singer can only do so much with his or her voice. I’m sure that even if Lata Mangeshkar sang ‘Chittiyan Kalaiyan’, it would become a bad song instead of the monstrosity it actually is. Therefore, simple explanation to the enigma of no new playback singers worth listening to: they just aren’t required anymore.

Dear “music directors”, please break out of this template you have been using since the rise of our lord and savior, Yo Yo Honey Singh. Please try to make music not for making the biggest hit song of the summer, but for actually making a good song. You have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the musical taste of an entire country, and I’m going to be clichéd here and quote a line from Spiderman – “with great power comes great responsibility”. I request you all, as an amateur musician and someone who loves music, to please do something about this rut that we’re stuck in, and bring back good music to an industry with a legacy of harbouring some of the greatest musicians of all time.

Yours faithfully,

A frustrated listener of “Every Party Song Ever”.

P.S. – I feel an obligation to mention Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. The soundtrack for that movie was a compilation of songs by different Indian artists, and it was a kickass soundtrack. I feel like the people behind that movie did a great job in selecting the music, and it is by far the best Hindi movie soundtrack I’ve listened to in recent times. Anyone who hasn’t listened to that soundtrack should seriously check it out.

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2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Bollywood Music Composers of Today

  1. This is true. Auto tune, Party Songs & Item numbers have ruined bollywood. As rehashing pre existing garbage masala flicks from south and adding a bollywood star to it wasn’t enough, every filmaker started to adopt the formula of crappy party songs, auto tuned performers and disastrous item numbers. Who is to blame for it? We the people..its basic supply and demand. Its not their fault. Its like calling McDonalds the cheif culprit of obesity. Stop the consumption, the produce will halt.
    Yes movies like Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, Rajeev Khandelwal’s Soundtrack, GOW etc had some amazing backgorund score backing the movie up. I am glad that atleast somebody noticed and gave credits to them. Thank You

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree with some of your points especially for lyrics but still we do get some really good songs now and then and please don’t forget playback singing is no longer a monopolised industry like it was in 80s or 90s where only few singers were there in a country of 1 billion today the industry is much more receptive to a new voice and that is evident by the fact of some fresh voices such as Mohit Chauhan , Arijit Singh, Papon, Armaan Malik
    Yes there are many who are not trained but they do actually have a great voice , I have listened to many trained singers too but vocal quality is something which is God gifted and natural.
    The only thing which I don’t like in songs of these days is too much use of Auto Tune even when it’s not required

    Like

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