Music has always been a pivot of Hindi cinema. Whether love ballads or heavily choreographed masala numbers or item songs, music not only embellishes our films but is integral to the movie-viewing experience. But, in the last few years, the industry appears to have lost its musical ear. While songs are being generated at a rapid rate, the tunes being composed are no longer striking a chord or tugging at the heart strings as they once did.
From 'Bom diggy' and 'Dil chori sada' in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety to 'Tareefan' in Veere Di Wedding and 'Dilbar dilbar' in Satyameva Jayate, we have only one blockbuster that is an original composition. All the others have been tried and tested before. And now, remixed versions of certain songs are also failing to live up to the mark. This week, we raised the question – why is the Hindi film industry seeing a dearth of original songs? Are even recreations failing to work? We spoke to a few film directors, music composers and lyricists and asked them to help figure it out.
Shashank Khaitan, Writer-Director
As filmmakers, we are all trying to see what is good for our movies, whether situational songs or promotional songs. Some original songs have done well. Some recreations have done well. The industry, right now, is figuring out how to take songs forward. As we speak, I am writing my next script and figuring out what to do. I am trying to see how I can integrate musical numbers in the story so that they can authentically take the storytelling forward.
Now we need to figure out whether a song that has already released can be used if it is apt for the film or do we need to create original music for every film? If the song is in line with the situation, may be it is better to use an already existing song over creating a new one.
Having said that, we are all working to create original songs; they are a part of Hindi cinema. I hope and pray that such songs continue to be a part of Hindi cinema. We are trying to understand and strike a balance between originality and commerce. Hopefully, we can arrive at a balance between original songs and recreations.
Milap Milan Zaveri, Writer-Director
There has to be a good mix of both, original songs and recreations. In Satyameva Jayate, we had both 'Dilbar' and 'Paniyon sa' – one a recreation and the other an original song. 'Dilbar' notched up record-breaking numbers. 'Tareefan' from Veere Di Wedding and 'Paniyon sa' from my film have done well. The songs of Dhadak, although remakes of their Marathi versions, were pretty new for the Hindi audience.
It is not that original music is not doing well. What has happened is that some recreations like 'Dilbar' have become successful because they are new songs for this generation. They are not aware of the original numbers as they released a long time ago.
Amit Trivedi, Composer-Singer
Original compositions are not grabbing the limelight or becoming successful these days because recreated songs are being heavily promoted. There is also a surge in the number of songs being released… an overdose. People are exposed to songs from new releases, almost every day.
There are so many songs. When something is available in abundance, it diminishes in value. That's exactly what's happening with songs today. It seems that supply is far outstripping demand. It feels as if the audience is being burdened with too much and that is not really necessary.
Vishal Mishra, Composer – Singer
Today, we are living in the best times to make music. We have never before had such a big talent pool, so many great writers, music directors, music producers and music equipment. The labels are so strong and so many platforms have cropped up exclusively for music. As far as recreations are concerned, some of them work and I think it's a beautiful process.
Shalmali Kholgade, Singer-Composer
I think at the root of all the speculation on the longevity and workability of music today is the shortening attention span of the audience and the effort to cut through the clutter on the part of creators. At a time when there's so much information out there to consume, it's a risk for most artistes to try something new and different.
Most creators would consider it wiser to present an existing piece of music in a relevant context (remix/reprise) and thus get the audience's attention, before treading on new terrain. It's just a business model, I guess. Some people are stubborn and believe firmly in their sound and negate the demand. They stand a chance to either make a mark or go unnoticed. This is probably why we have fewer original songs that have made a mark.
Why aren't recreations working? We see a recreation in every other film and the novelty factor is lost. There is very little room to be surprised. Familiarity works for recreations but over-familiarity can work in the other direction.
Rachita Arora, Composer
I think it is unfortunate that we have so many remakes but there are also some amazing musicians coming up with original stuff, experimenting and exploring. I feel we do have some numbers that are hitting the charts. So I don't fully agree with the question. One bright side is that a lot of new composers are getting the chance to showcase their work and are getting the chance to do it their way.