Ghazal maestro Hariharan gives his take on the current fusion and ghazal scene...
Why haven’t you been singing in Bollywood?
Bollywood has changed, yaar. They need aggressive rock-based vocals, because that’s the kind of music that’s popular today. (Laughs) So most of the voices you hear today are different and ‘rocky’. Plus, stars also want younger voices, as they grow older! So I’ve been busy touring, and have been singing a lot in the South, actually.
You recently got into film composition in the South with Leslie Lewis. Why did it take you guys so long, after your first album in 1996?
I was really busy touring and singing, and Leslie was producing a lot of artistes. We’ve always had these psychological problems that if we go the commercial route, whether it would affect Colonial Cousins. We took a long time to get those answers.
So what made you finally take the plunge?
Whatever Bollywood is doing today, Leslie and I have already done in 1996. We were the ones who started ‘fusion’ music as it is today in Bollywood. I don’t know why we didn’t do much after that first album that became such a huge hit, actually. Even our second album, that came after eight years, Aatma, and had the song ‘Kai zhala’, was quite successful.
So, will you guys compose in Bollywood as well?
Yeah, why not? (Laughs) As long as people want us to. We are coming up with another album meanwhile. It’s going to be a fun album, with some groovy music. Our music has also changed over the time. There will be a mixture of both acoustic and digital.
Is the ghazal concert today also going to be something different than the usual?
(Laughs) No, it’s purely ghazal. It’s a non-sponsored, purely musical show, where you have to buy the tickets to come. I love to do such concerts because money is not the criteria to watch them. Only people really interested in music come for them. It’s rare these days with the corporate section ruling the world.
Are such shows on a decline?
Not at all! As a ghazal singer, I don’t expect crowds of 10,000 in my shows, but I did around five-six shows last year, in places like Indore, Bhopal and even Bangalore, and over 3,000 people turned up for each one. Just because corporates don’t understand ghazal and don’t give it the backing, and it’s not on TV, it doesn’t mean that ghazal is on the decline.
But yes, unfortunately everything has largely become ‘firang’ now. When people think music these days, they only think of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a problem with the metros. They have to give it a chance because a ghazal is nothing but love ballads. Anyone from 18 to 30 can come for it.