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Fusion reaction

With experimental music all the rage, thanks to the popularity of TV shows based on artiste collaborations, are Bollywood songs changing too? We find out

bollywood Updated: Aug 31, 2013 18:58 IST
Nirmika Singh
Nirmika Singh
Hindustan Times
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,Songs,Ras ke bhare tore naina

Mera yaar’, a song from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (BMB), saw an unlikely marriage between two genres, country music and qawwali. In ‘Ras ke bhare tore naina’ (Satyagraha), composers have strung a groove to a traditional bandish. One of the tracks from Fukrey, Ambarsariya, was a melange of a Punjabi folk tune, acoustic guitars and accordion.

The last few months have seen a steady flow of Bollywood songs that are born out of experiments between two or more unrelated genres. Not long before these songs saw the light of day, in a parallel universe of TV music shows like Coke Studio, The Dewarists and Sound Trippin’, fusion music had already found its deserving place and a devoted fan following. Madari, one of the most popular songs from the Coke Studio repertoire, was composed by Clinton Cerejo last season and recently crossed the one million views mark on YouTube.

This year, Ram Sampath’s, Kattey, a team-up between a ghoonghat-wearing powerhouse folk singer Bhanvari Devi and spunky rapper Hard Kaur, has amassed over four lakh views within a week of its release.

Winds of change
Could it be possible then that Bollywood’s changing music sensibilities have something do to with the fusion-friendly climate created by these shows, all of which focus on artiste
collaboration to produce newer sounds? “Bollywood has always been about mix and match,” says singer-composer Vishal Dadlani. “Most composers who have been part of these shows work in Bollywood. On these shows, they get to unleash their creativity. But that hasn’t changed the mainstream sound. However, more changes have been seen in smaller films.”

According to Ehsaan Noorani of the composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, it’s all about making great music. “Eventually, people like a good song. In BMB, we played around with many genres because they all sounded great. Although Bollywood composing is still limited by a lot of factors, there has been a lot of space to experiment within those limits now.”

Needless to say, the creative liberties that composers take these days wouldn’t have been possible, say, a decade ago. Clinton feels that this has happened because the lines between indie and film music have blurred. “Bollywood has become hipper,” he says. “Independent musicians are also involved in composing for films these days.” Cerejo and his team of musicians and singers, which include Sonu Kakkar, Bianca Gomes, Vijay Prakash and a Rajasthani group called Barmer Boys, among others will be part of Coke Studio’s episode that airs tonight (August 31).

A melting pot
According to singer Dominique Cerejo, it is not surprising that Bollywood is adapting to the change. “It is all about evolution,” she says. “Bollywood has always been a melting pot. Back in the day, RD Burman took Indian melodies and fused them with western arrangements. Bappi Lahiri brought disco to film music. In Barfi! (2012), we got to hear a lot of European instruments. This has always been the character of Bollywood. It is always evolving. What is happening now is that film music is incorporating world music.”

The change might not be apparent, most big-budget films still put their money in having a safe (read run-of-the-mill) soundtrack, but it is here to stay. Vishal adds, “The more you (media) talk about it (the changing sounds of film music), the better it will for the industry. Ultimately, it all depends on the sort of film you are working on.”

First Published: Aug 31, 2013 13:54 IST