Shubha Mudgal is not against Bollywood, but the veteran singer with deep roots in Hindustani classical, says if everyone keeps running after creating masala songs for the Hindi industry, it may well pose a threat to other genres of music specific to Indian culture. “Today we see Bollywood music being played in every household, mostly because it is easily accessible. I have nothing against these songs that even I enjoy. But it would be tragic if we lost out on other kinds of music, a lot of which might never come back,” says Mudgal.
The 53-year-old singer is trying to do her bit to popularise and preserve the wide variety of musical styles and genres in the country through her festival, Baajaa Gaajaa, for the past three years. She is gearing up for the fourth edition, to be held in Pune between February 10 and 12.
The festival will see as many as 100 artists from different genres of music, including rock, blues, jazz, Hindustani vocal, instrumental music, Carnatic vocal and folk music, from different parts of the country, performing on stage. "There’s a huge variety in Indian music, whether old or adapted, that highlights the diversity in our country. Mostly Bollywood music doesn’t represent the entire spectrum of Indian music,” she points out.
The magical voice behind chartbusters like Ali Mora Angana, Ab Ke Saawan and Mann Ke Manjeere has kept her presence in Bollywood strictly limited because she doesn't consider herself competent for contemporary songs.
“I’ve sung for Hindi movies occasionally but I should be able to do justice to the songs offered to me. And the kind of songs I like are not being composed these days,” she rues.
She reasons that if she is trying something that she is not comfortable with, she would fall flat on her face. Mudgal has given playback for films like Laaga Chunari Mein Daag ( 2007) Lajja (2001) and 1920 (2008). A lover of khayal, thumri and dadra, Mudgal explored Indian pop music in the 1990s in albums like Ali More Angana, Ab Ke Sawan, Pyaar Ke Geet and Mann Ki Manjeere. “I don’t agree that pop albums have lost their charm. Just like we have parallel cinema alongside with commercial cinema, there is alternative music industry that is producing, executing material of all kinds.” she says. “There are many people who are coming up original compositions.”