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Indie music raids Bollywood

For a brief period in the ’90s, Bollywood collaborated with artistes such as Lucky Ali, Silk Route and Colonial Cousins, but then the excitement wore off just as quickly as it had begun. The dearth of new talent then didn’t help either.

music Updated: Jul 31, 2011 14:10 IST
Priyanka Singh

For a brief period in the ’90s, Bollywood collaborated with artistes such as Lucky Ali, Silk Route and Colonial Cousins, but then the excitement wore off just as quickly as it had begun. The dearth of new talent then didn’t help either.

Off late though, the indie music scene has managed to carve a niche for itself, and seems ready to enter the film industry once again with renewed zest. You could say the revival started with Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday (2004) whose soundtrack was composed by folk-rock band Indian Ocean.

This year, films like Shaitan and 404: Error Not Found have dabbled with indie artistes like Suman Sridhar, Imaad Shah’s The Pulp Society and metal act Bhayanak Maut for their soundtracks. And the approaching months futher reinforce this trend. Ramgopal Varma’s Not A Love Story, due to release in August, will see Airport’s vocalist Arijit Datta crooning the song ‘Pal…’. Then, there is Neeraj Ghosh’s Soundtrack, a remake of It’s All Gone Pete Tong, that features music entirely composed by Midival Punditz in colloboration with fusion-artiste Karsh Kale. “It’s a great time for the indie music scene in India, and finally everyone has come to terms with it — including Bollywood,” says Tapan Raj of Midival Punditz.

And, perhaps, the biggest collaboration of the year will be the Yash Raj banner’s Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, that will see folk artiste Raghu Dixit turn Bollywood music director for the first time. Ask the reason behind this sudden large-scale indie-mainstream crossover and Raghu says, “It’s because Bollywood is changing thematically. It’s become more real and these films demand a new sound since there are a lot of fresh writers, directors and producers, who have brought a brand new vision to the forefront.”

Rock band Agnee, which is composing the soundtrack for the film Aalaap (slated for a September release) doesn’t want to miss the bus either. “The audience’s taste has changed a lot,” says vocalist Mohan Kannan. “Ten years ago, a soundtrack like Dev D’s wouldn’t have worked. But it has today, since the listeners have become experimental,” he adds.

But, every coin has two sides. Are there creative restrictions in making a film’s soundtrack as opposed to doing a personal project? Mohan says, “If you’d asked me this question a few months back, I would have told you point blank that composing music for a film is the worst thing that can happen to a musician. It takes time getting used to the new setup, but things are now different and better.”

Citing some reason for possible disputes, Tapan quips in, “There are a lot of people involved in a film project — the sound is just one facet of the entire production. So, it has to be in sync with the film. A painter making a portrait can’t change the face, right?”

So does this trend work in favour of the growing indie music scene? “Your fan base increases and you get to spread your music to places where live performances were never possible. Overall, it gives immense boost to the band’s popularity,” says Arijit. Adding to this, Raghu says, “Artists should take this as a new medium of expression and make use of it. Bollywood has more mass appeal, leading to a wider reach across the country making it a win-win situation for the indie bands.”

You heard them in these films...
* Bhayanak Maut’s song ‘Unleashed...’ was featured in Shaitan (2011)
* Suman Sridhar from Sridhar/Thayil sung the remixes of ‘Khoya khoya chand...’ and ‘Hawa hawai...’ from Shaitan (2011)
* Mohan Kannan from Agnee sung the title track ‘Shor...’ from Shor and the City (2011)
* Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale composed the background score for the movie Dum Maro Dum (2011)
* Imaad Shah from The Pulp Society composed the soundtrack of the movie 404 Error Not Found (2011)
* Siddharth Basrur from Goddess Gagged sung two songs —‘Mujhe de de har gham tera...’ and ‘Jaaniya...’ for Haunted (2011)
* Indian Ocean composed two songs — ‘Darte ho...’ and ‘Desh mera...’ for Peepli Live (2010)
* Mohan Kannan from Agnee sung ‘Naav...’ for Udaan (2010)
* Monica Dogra from Shaa’ir and FUNC sung ‘Dooriyan...’ for Break Ke Baad (2010)
* Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale composed the background score for Karthik Calling Karthik (2010)