Bollywood doesn’t give us due credit: Playback singers voice their discontent
Singer Neha Bhasin, known for the song Jag Ghoomeya (Sultan, 2016) and other hits, is the latest musician to claim that she has faced the brunt of disrespect in the entertainment industry. Bhasin said that she had been mistreated at an awards event, where she had been ignored for an interview. Before that, there was a controversy over singer Armaan Malik being addressed as (his brother) Amaal Malik. In another incident, singer Aditi Singh Sharma was upset at being mistaken for another playback singer, Kanika Kapoor.
Amid all the Twitter exchange on this subject, Bhasin posted: “A little respect for the music industry wouldn’t hurt anybody. We are where we are with credibility and integrity.”
This raises the question: are singers not getting the respect and credit that they deserve? Singers have a straight answer — no. “In my opinion, sadly, the music industry doesn’t get its due in Bollywood,” says Neha Bhasin.
Monali Thakur, who has to her name songs like Badri Ki Dulhania (Badrinath Ki Dulhania, 2017) and Moh Moh Ke Dhaage (Dum Laga Ke Haisha, 2015), says, “The ecosystem of the entire music industry is unhealthy. Singers are not acknowledged... not just singers, even music composers. However, this wasn’t [the case] when I entered the industry; [this is] a phase that has taken over now. Indian artistes are deprived of many things.”
One of the reasons, believes Aditi Singh Sharma, is that there are too many singers now. “There weren’t too many singers earlier; now there are many of us. Singers are actors behind the microphone but credit is not given to them. A song is the result of teamwork, but even lyricists are not given credit, and this is because of directors, producers and the media,” says Aditi.
However, veteran singer Alka Yagnik believes that this has been prevailing for a long time. She says, “Singers are not given as much credit as they truly deserve. But ultimately one’s respect lies in one’s own hand — [in] how you conduct yourself. Respect can’t be commanded or demanded. But singers and their contribution are definitely underestimated in our industry.”
Singer Jubin Nautiyal, however, says that he has never felt neglected. “You can’t demand credit,” he says. “Your work speaks [for itself] and I haven’t faced this problem. Every song carries the singer’s credit. If the audience doesn’t know a singer, we can’t blame them or anyone [else] for it.”
Even within the playback singing community, women feel somewhat at a disadvantage compared to the men. “Talking from the point of view of the amount of work, recently there has been male domination in terms of the quantity of songs,”says Neha Bhasin. “Women earlier had more solo songs to their credit than they do now.”
Neha adds, “About the pecking order with regard to the glamour aspect, I think the industry then and now are very different. While red carpets always existed, the importance given to fashionable appearances wasn’t that much in the mainstream music space. And now, even though everyone walks the red carpet, singers are expected to just walk down without waiting to be clicked or celebrated.”
Jubin Nautiyal agrees that there are fewer songs for females. “The space is in duets mostly. But it has always been like this,” he feels.