The past is coloured with rose-tinted nostalgia, in life as in music. Nostalgia evokes beauty, veils the ugly.. a snatch of an old song makes the heart sigh with rekindled memories.
But if we have accepted changes in lifestyle and though, why do we still weep about the glorious age of film music? We all wear different clothes, eat different good, live in high-rises, drive better cars, use computers and cell phones, have a lot more mechanisation than our parents’ generation did. But when it comes to music, so many of us pine for the songs that were.
Music, like literature, and cinema and any popular art form, changes according to the times and adapts to the way people live. When life was slower and people had the time to sit at ease and listen to music, the beat and style of music were unhurried too..steeped in ragas.
Today, when we live in a rushed age and want everything to be delivered quick and in a disposable format, obviously popular music will reflect this state of mind.
Film music is also a kind of record of the way romance has been conducted down the ages. Fifty years ago, marriages were mostly arranged. Any kind of mingling of the sexes was severely frowned upon..romance was a forbidden pleasure.
Not surprisingly, most film songs were melancholy and poetic. With the advent of the modern age and the effect of westernisation, as the nature of romance changed, the songs also hinted mischief. Today, it’s the time of blatant sexuality. So the music sizzles too.
Today, at least in urban India, sex is out of the closet and love marriages are not uncommon. So if a guy sings Gham diye mustaqil, kitna nazuk hai dil, yeh na jaana, hai hai yeh zaalim zamana, the audience will hoot,“Get a life, dude!” What does appeal to today’s romantic youth is a song of the Bheege honth tere, pyasa dil mera variety.
That’s what their approach to love is. A girl will no longer sing, Rasik balma dil kyon lagaya tose, for fear of being branded a loser and lingo freak. She will sing something like, Sexy lady on the floor, he’ll be coming back for more.. crazy kiya re.
Today’s film music is not for mending broken hearts, it is for dancing in the disco, for listening on the radio to in speeding cars — not so much a leisure activity as a time-filler. The day we slow down to bullock cart pace again and resume writing love letters on scented paper, melodious music will return to the charts too! Till then, let’s accept the times and the trends — it’s the time to disco..whenever, wherever..and whatever.
(The writer has been a film critic for over 20 years)