'We don't really have a music industry'

'We don't really have a music industry'

'We don't really have a music industry'

Today he is among Bollywood’s hottest music directors and everyone is dancing to his tunes. By incorporating Western, folk, Hindustani and Sufi influences to his music, Salim Merchant has managed to enthrall audiences across the world and not only keep up with the changing face of India’s film industry but also help redefine it. 

Some of his hits along with brother Sulaiman include chartbusters from movies like Kaal, Iqbal, Dor, Aaja Nachle, Chak De! India, Fashion, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl to the latest Satyagraha.

Son of composer and a veteran of the Telugu film industry, Sadruddin Merchant, Salim is in the news because of his association with MTV Coke Studio. Thrilled to be part of the show, the singer-composer says, “This is a kind of a movement and it is giving birth to a change in our country in terms of music. Here, we don’t really have a music industry and popular music is made for the movies. There is so much of talent and independent music all over. This show is a platform for independent music.”

Talking about the current scenario of the musical industry, Salim says, “Previously, there were only a few voices like Kishore Kumar, Mohd Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Then Nadeem Shravan, Kumar Sanu and Abhijeet did their bit. Then Sonu Nigam and Shaan. But now we have so many singers – Benny Dayal, Mohit Chauhan, Mika, Arijit, Javed Ali, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal, Shankar Mahadevan and everybody is really happy and getting a lot of work, concerts and collaboration. There’s room for everyone.”Salim believes that songs are responsible for spreading a message. “A song like Chikni Chameli obviously doesn’t spread any message, but a bhajan like Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, does. Then there are inspirational songs from Chak De! India, Dor, Iqbal. Fortunately for us, we have always made inspirational songs and we are infact, blessed to get these songs in our kitty where we can express ourselves.”

Sharing his views on the content of songs these days, Salim clears that there are many more important issues in our country than just talking about lyrics of a song. “This is really a small thing and item songs are not an issue. The biggest issue are gang rapes, harassment of women and economical state of India and rupee falling.”

“But at the same time, one must remember that songs like Chikni Chameli have nothing to do with gang rapes. It has more to do with education and upbringing at home. Such songs have been around since the 60s. Earlier, it was called cabaret, then you had mujras like Salaam-e-ishq meri jaan and now they are labelled item numbers where foreign girls dance in the background. 

“The only difference is that maybe rapes were either not done or not reported. Even in America all the pop singers are shedding their clothes, in the Middle-East there is belly dancing. It’s a culture, so I don’t understand why it has become an issue suddenly,” adds the singer.