Are songs losing their importance in Bollywood?

Music may have been an integral part of Hindi films for the longest time, but not anymore. SpotboyE finds out why...

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Are songs losing their importance in Bollywood?
Gone are the days when Bollywood films were 3-hour affairs with at least a dozen songs packed in them.
The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are replete with examples like Guide (1965), Kati Patang (1970), Pakeezah (1972) Satte Pe Satta (1982), Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989). The 90’s also saw many song-heavy movies like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1994) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998).

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Cut to the present. Even films like Tamasha and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo were high on music, but that’s not the point.

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The fact is, songs are, on the whole, losing their prominence in Hindi movies. Scripts are getting tighter, films are becoming shorter and in the bargain, the average number of songs have dipped. Recent releases like Neerja, Airlift and Saala Khadoos had 4 songs on an average, which is not a great number going by B-Town standards. The latest Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Fan had just one promotional track -- Jabra Fan -- which was not even a part of the film. To give another example, Sunny Deol’s Ghayal Once Again had no songs. 

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Veteran composer Anandji -- of the Kalyanji Anandji duo -- says: “This is a fast-food era, where everything is prepared quickly. It also vanishes quickly. In our times, we would focus on each harkat and also rehearse it for a few days. Now, people do not have enough time to focus on any one track. Also, the audience doesn’t have the patience to watch a film for more than 90 minutes, so how can we have more songs?”

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Ramesh Taurani, the head honcho of Tips Industries, also attributes the current scenario to tighter scripts. “People love shorter films and so, the scripts have become tighter. So, it is difficult for filmmakers to incorporate too many songs. This, I feel, is the way forward,” he notes.

Filmmaker Subhash Ghai has an interesting take on the scenario. He explains: “Songs used to reflect the inner journey of the (film’s) characters, but that technique is almost outdated now. Also, pure, divine feelings and relationships are fast diminishing among the urbanised audience. As a result, songs have lost their importance. Now it's all story and drama.”

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Surprisingly, the younger generation of singers are completely okay with films having fewer songs. 
Jabra Fan singer Nakash Aziz points out, “Many times, I have noticed people walking out to buy popcorn or going to the washroom during songs. They treat it almost like a break.”

Popular singer Shaan agrees. “Today, songs are treated more as promotional tools. A majority of the audience does not like too many breaks in the storyline so, even filmmakers do not include too many songs in their films. Also, very few directors know how to take the story ahead during a song,” he says. 

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Lyricist Prashant Ingole, who has penned songs for films like Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Mary Kom (2014), adds, “People’s attention span has reduced. They even text and make idle calls during films, especially when the songs are on.” 

Banno Tera Swagger (Tanu Weds Manu Returns, 2015) composer Tanishk Bagchi feels songs are best suited for parties and solitary journeys. “I get bored when there are too many songs. I watch a movie for its script and not music. But yes, musicals are different,” he says.

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Digital platforms are also to be blamed, feel many in the industry. Teri Meri Kahaani (Gabbar Is Back, 2015) lyricist Manoj Yadav explains: “People watch the songs on YouTube even before a film is released. They will obviously get bored watching the same track again on the big screen.” 

NewGen singer Palak Muchhal feels the number of songs should purely be decided on the basis of the script. “I wouldn’t want a song in an action flick unless it’s extremely crucial to the plot. But at the same time, I would love some melodies in a romantic film. Today’s audience is very smart -- they have no patience for songs that are placed zabardasti in between the story,” she points out.

Image Source: twitter/palakmucchal3

Many B-Town musicians even feel that 5 years down the line, the music and film industries might work separately like in the West. “There will only be collaborations; movies will be more about background scores. Songs will be introduced only if they are absolutely indispensable to the storyline,” sums up Tanishk. 

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