Kabhi, kabhi mere dil mein...

Kabhi, kabhi mere dil mein...

TOUCHING A CHORD

Kabhi, kabhi mere dil mein...

Lyrical melodies or funky upbeat numbers, Hindi film music has always connected with the whole country. Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma tries to explain its popularity

kaEVERGREEN HITS Whether it is  foot-tapping numbers like Ra One’s Chhammak ChhalloIt’s been 100 years since cinema officially made its presence in India. ‘Pundalik’, a recording of a play directed by Ram Chandra Gopal Torne was released in 1912, while the more well known movie ‘Raja Harishchandra’, a full-length film directed by Dada Saheb Phalke released in the year 1913. It is over eighty years since India’s first talkie film, Alam Ara, was released. The movie and its music were a big hit including the first song of Indian cinema, “De de khuda ke naam par.”

Since then songs have become a key to film plots, and except for the rare filmmakers, none dare make movies without music. No wonder then that Hindi film songs have been a major source of entertainment for generations of Indians. Just ask middle-aged people about their younger days, and many will nostalgically reel off the popular songs of that period. In fact, after cricket, it is film songs that bind the country as one.

Hindi film songs have loyalists across the length and breadth of the country, regardless of regional differences. These songs, lift arrest their mood swings, keep them away from boredom, and most of all keep them entertained and happy. For example, Abhilash Sivadas, a visual artist, says he listens to the old time classic, Kabhi Kabhi, as an anthem everyday. “I cannot work without listening to film music, which means I am listening to them for about eight to nine hours a day.”

To cater to these fans, we have private FM radio stations playing film music, just as government-run stations like AIR and  FM Rainbow which have dedicated slots for loyalists. Moreover, the key ingredient of many of our events is film music. You’ll find fans jiving to these desi numbers,  books being churned out on Bollywood songs, and events organised to pay tribute to renowned singers, musicians and others from the film industry.

What is it that makes Hindi film songs so popular that radio stations, wedding celebrations, reality shows, discotheques, and parties are never complete without them?

Perhaps, it is because this music touches our senses and emotions in a special way.  In our country audiences tolerate hackneyed plots and characters, but when it comes to music, people demand and expect originality.

A strong factor that makes or breaks a film is its music. Many times, it is the music  that lives on even after the movie is forgotten. Film music has a tremendous amount of marketing glitz attached to it and every effort is made to make it a crowd puller every time a film is released. Even if the film flops, its music connects with us over a longer period of time.

Says Prithvi Vishwanath, a very popular RJ of Radio One, a station that plays only Bollywood music, “I have grown to be a Hindi film music fan from the time I joined Radio One.”

He further adds, “I find Hindi film music very popular amongst our listeners. Clever utilisation of the media, marketing, glitz and glamour, and of course some genuinely good music make for some potent ingredients to popularise Bollywood music. At our station, although we do play retro music, but it is more of the 90s. In fact recent research results point out that our people have quite an appetite for retro music and melodies rather than fast numbers.”

Another huge fan of Hindi film music, is an active participant of a semi formal group known as Recreational-Music Indian-Miscellaneous (RMIM), which strives to remember and revive old memorable songs. Chetan Vinchhi says, “Personally I do not like most of the music churned out in the last two decades, due to the fact that songs these days are more processed and synthetic and the voice is less important. But I must admit that Hindi film music has had a mass appeal for years. Undoubtedly, it is an art form with no parallel. It encompasses the common man’s cultural identity like nothing else does.”

So whilst there are weddings and other  functions at home that have us play these songs, there are also rituals like  the Mehndi and Sangeet that depend on Bollywood’s numbers. In fact, although these ceremonies were initially region-specific, they have now become a must in  many brides’ pre-wedding itinerary.

According to DJ Jasmeet, known for his penchant for playing funky and upbeat numbers, “Bollywood music is something that has tremendous mass appeal and many understand the songs and can dance to them even if they are not very conversant with the language. A lot of people can relate to them even if they are the kind who party only once in a while.”

Its ability to provide a temporary escape from mundane worries, as well as its ability to identify with personal situations have continually contributed to the popularity of film music. It has a certain style that even someone not trained in music can appreciate. This is an advantage that film music has as other forms may demand a deeper  understanding.

Most of us remember popular songs and associate actors and actresses with them, and subsequently singers and music directors. So, no matter which genre of music is introduced to further generations, as long as movies are made, Hindi film songs are going to be evergreen forms of entertainment.

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