Change is the way of nature. There is no stopping it. Technological advancements are helping us lead an easy life, but those who have an ear for music feel that these changes are destroying the basic tenets of music.
We belong to a generation which satiated its thirst for music through radio and LPs. I still remember lying on a cot in the open verandah in my house at night and listening to lilting golden oldies on Tameel-e-Irshad on All India Radio. Mukesh was my favourite singer. Every song had beautiful Urdu poetry set to soul-stirring tunes. The voice of the singer always stood out with accompanying soft musical instruments. I still remember how good Urdu poets used to go to the Bombay film industry and write according to the situation in the film, which was then turned into beautiful songs by distinguished musicians.
Who can forget "Zikar hota hai jab kayamat ka tere jalwon ki baat hoti hai. Tu jo chahe to din nikalta hai, tu jo chahe raat hoti hai." Or, "Mujhko is raat ki tanhai main awaz na do".
When we used to see movies, songs were an integral part of films and nobody left their seats when songs were played.
Over the years, the film industry has evolved a lot. Better technology has resulted in better camerawork, visual effects and sound, but sadly, the soul of film music is dying. Good poets are not going to the film industry anymore. Or even if they do, they are sidelined because of their unwillingness to make compromises.
How many songs have been produced in the past 20 years which have touched the soul with beautiful words set to equally wonderful music? You can count them on your fingers.
I was in Chennai a year ago and had four hours to kill before my flight back home. I asked the taxi driver to take me to any theatre showing a Hindi movie. With great difficulty, he finally found one, which was showing the latest movie "Ready". This turned out to be a three-hour torture for me with repugnant songs like "Barah maheene mein barah tareeke se tujko pyar sikhaonga re, dhink chika, dhink chika" and "Kya karoon ki sala character dheela hai". This is the height of meaningless words set to meaningless music in a meaningless situation. Later I learnt that the film was a box office hit!
As there are several Hindi film songs from yesteryears which still stir the soul, we have as many disgusting new songs with loud thumping music and meaningless, many a times even double-meaning, words. When such songs are played by DJs on high volume at weddings, I usually tend to walk out of the place within minutes.
I shudder to think about the future of the music industry. Will someone as great as Talat Mehmood again give voice to stirring lyrics like "Jalte hain jiske liye teri ankhon ke diye", or will we have to make do with the ridiculous "dhink chikas"?
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