Bihar elections: Recording studios are abuzz again, thanks to polls
Political parodies, audios and videos for the upcoming Bihar assembly polls may just be publicity material for parties and candidates but they’re a fresh lease of life for thousands of families in the engaged in these activities for decades. People involved in the sector had been struggling for a livelihood for the last six months since Covid-19 pandemic broke out and the lockdown rendered them jobless.
This year, they remained idle in times of usual peak in business such as festivals of Holi, Chaiti Chhath and Shravani Mela because of lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions. Even the forthcoming festivals like Dussehra, Chhath and Diwali are expected to be equally dull as the pandemic continues.
The announcement of assembly elections, however, have revived their hopes.
Recording studios in Patna are abuzz again with Bollywood songs and popular Bhojpuri numbers which provide ready music to these artists to build on.
Among the favourite numbers this year are “Vijayi Bhava” from Kangana Ranaut’s ‘Manikarnika’, “Bhar de jholi” from Bajrangi Bhaijaan and “Gali Gali Teri Lau Jali” from Baahubali. Parodies based on these songs are being composed and drafted while recording experts are testing the equipment at studios to keep them ready for the final albums.
There are over 400 to 500 recording studios in the state, some of them even registered with the registration department of the state government. An estimated 5,000 families are dependent on these activities. The annual transaction of this sector is approximately Rs 7-10 crore.
“Unfortunately, half the recording studios have been closed now due to the severe financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, most of these have been running in rented rooms and structures and the studio owners are now in no position to pay rent for the lockdown period,” Shahid Rafi, Patna-based poll parody writer and singer, said.
These studios in Patna alone employ hundreds of people as lyricists, singers, composers, accompanists, recording technicians, editors and mixing experts.
“Only recently, a folk singer in the city who used to earn high through stage shows of folk and film songs, called me up and requested to give her a chance of recording even in the chorus. This is the situation now,” Rafi said.
Rajesh Kumar, who runs Pragati recording studio in Patna, said the elections have provided many much-needed relief in terms of work and payments.
“Supporters of different political parties and potential candidates have started pouring in for publicity songs and tracks. But things will really look up for us when candidates are declared and file nominations and get symbols. But we have already started preparations,” Kumar stated.
According to Rafi, songs like ‘Parda Hai Parda’ from film ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ and ‘Yeh Public Hai Yeh Sab Jaanti Hai’ from film ‘Roti’ have remained the all-time favourites but some new songs are also being preferred.
“We keep the tracks ready and even lyrics are drafted. When the candidates get their symbols, we just fit words into this track and get it recorded,” he explained.
“Lyrics are the same and only the name of candidates and their symbols change in the poll songs. For instance, there’s a song ‘Charcha Hai Charcha Mahagathbandhan Ka’ on ‘Parda Hai Parda’. Here, the name of any party or candidate can be fitted as per requirement. Similarly, there’s a song ‘Subah Uthkar Booth Per Jaana, Teer-Kamal Chhaap Per Button Dabaana’ based on ‘Bhar Dei Jholi’ from film ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’. Here also the name of the candidate and party can be changed accordingly,” said Rafi.
“Things have started looking up, though very slowly. Work is there, but the payment is still a long distance away,” Medha Shree, a folk singer said.