When I look at my Hindi Soundtrack playlist these days, I think about this one bull run many may not have noticed. I wouldn’t use loaded words like unconventional, melodious, richly orchestrated, full of variety etc to describe the sound Bollywood is churning out these days. All I would say is this, they seem to be producing enjoyable stuff, and the playlists are getting bigger.
Hard to put down a date when things changed. But there was a sort of lull when A R Rehman was the king. ARR was, and still is doing great. But most others were focusing either on creating the ARR sound – overly jazzed up music being the result, with needlessly high levels of electronic percussions and low pitch strings, or on carrying on with the boring Bollywood sound of 90s – where melody meant slow, and lyrics meant standard phrases from Sameer.
And then things changed, May be with Shankar Ehsaan Loy, but not them alone. Vishal Shekhar, Shantanu Moitra, Pritam as well. Add Ismail Darbar and Himesh too (why not?). Old horses like Anu Malik and Jatin Lalit are trying to fit in. And don’t forget some more talented folks like Vishal Bhardwaj and Rabbi Singh.
So what would you be listening to these days? Ye Nigaahen (Khoya Khoya Chand; Shantanu Moitra) sounds like those old ones. I am still not done listening to Ajab Si (OSO; Vishal Shekhar), which sounded similar. Its not just the old sounding songs though. “Ek main thaa … aur thee Dilli bas” from Dilli (Rabbi Singh) is a simple experiment, western sound and hindi lyrics. Kitni Der Tak from the same soundtrack is similar, call it a Hindi Country adaptation. Baaten kuchh ankahee see (Life in a Metro; Pritam) was fun, and I am still enjoying it. Aye hairathe (Guru; ARR) was hummable and melodious, without the instrumental and synthesized overdose you sometimes fear in ARR songs.
Going further back in 2006, talk about Sau dard and Ajnabee, and well, I couldn’t believe Anu Malik made those songs. I didn’t have similar reaction for Fanaa (Jatin-Lalit), but the songs did good. One word – enthusiastic – describes Ye hai meri kahaani (Zinda; Strings). Pritam tried with Ankahee, and was ignored, though you would remember Kya mujhe pyaar hai (Woh Lamhe).
Okay, I am not going to chronicle it all (Woh Lamhe, Omkara, Rang De Basanti, Gangster, Ankahee etc etc) from 2006. And I haven’t listed all the good soundtracks from 2007 either. But, the point is, I believe the Bollywood music is on a bull run that started a couple of years ago. A good set of singers and music directors; some new sound; little more variety and experiments (still not a lot though) – hope it all sustains and gets even better. Because, I am loving it.
PS: Talks of copying and inspirations add a negative angle here. But we’ll dwell on that sometime later.