It looks like the slump in the music industry is over as music directors and other technicians have hiked their prices.
Composer Pritam Chakraborty blames actor Akshay Kumar for this sudden hike.
"It's all because of Akshay Kumar," says Pritam Chakraborty with a straight face. "When he started charging unheard-of prices (apparently in the vicinity of Rs.300 million) the entire economics of an average film project altered drastically. Today my musicians, arrangers and programmers are asking for a steep hike in their remuneration. I've no choice but to hike my fee accordingly."
Though Pritam doesn't mention a specific amount, his fee has apparently gone up from approximately Rs.700,000-800,000 per score to around Rs.1.2-1.5 million, industry sources said.
All other composers, including the successful Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Vishal-Shekhar, apparently charge similar amounts.
But after the release of the soundtrack of Singh Is Kinng, which has been sold at a staggering price of Rs.135 million, composer Pritam is likely to hike his fees again.
"The film redefines the parameters of film music sales. This kind of price for a movie soundtrack was unheard of after people stopped buying music off the shelf as much as they used to, thanks to computer and television outlets," said Pritam.
However, he hasn't benefited much from the profits raked in by Singh Is Kinng.
"We musicians remain underpaid specially when the music industry undergoes a slump. For me, the turning point was the soundtrack of Jab We Met, which gave me a chance to be unusually creative and then Race that had peppy item songs," he said.
Music maestro A.R. Rahman is a price apart. Apparently, his fee per score used to be around Rs.15 million that, considering the all-round escalation in movie budgets, has gone up to Rs.25 million.
Last year's flamboyant flavour Himesh Reshammiya has stopped doing music for films that do not feature him in the cast. So he cannot be counted among the musicians in the race.
However, composer Aadesh Shrivastava, who composed chartbusters like Say shava shava in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Merii makhanaa in Baghban, feels the bubble is an illusion.
"And it's bound to burst. Who are these people who are suddenly paying in multi-millions for music rights when everyone knows music doesn't sell these days. Very frankly, I look at the Rs.135 million claim for the Singh Is Kinng soundtrack with great scepticism," said Shrivastava.
"Whom are they giving that kind of money to? The film's leading man Akshay or the music composer Pritam? Have they given Pritam even a fraction of the money they've got for the music rights?" he asked.
Shrivastava feels film music is going through an era of unhealthy competition.
"I remember when Laxmikant-Pyarelal had composed the qawwalli Parda hai parda for Amar Akbar Anthony, R.D. Burman was so thrilled that he immediately congratulated the duo and was inspired to compose a qawwalli Hai agar dushman in Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin.
"Today the competition is so unhealthy. If two plagiarised songs click in a movie, another music director will offer to rip off four songs for the same producer and make them chartbusters. Today, when a listener hears a song, his first reaction is, 'Where is it stolen from?'
"Very honestly I see no future in Hindi film music," he remarked.