I love Bollywood music. It forms about 35% of my music collection, only because I follow four languages, like a number of genres and most importantly – I research and buy music I like and I buy a lot of it. Most Indians find it easy to just succumb to Bollywood Overdose (BO). Although regional music markets face the same onslaught from regional movies, I single out Bollywood simply because it is the largest producer of music in India and has pan India presence.
What is BO? BO is the phenomenon of large sections of Indians being exposed to a handful of Bollywood songs and pretty much nothing else. It results in a populace with stunted musical taste or disinterest in music.
An entire system is responsible for BO – risk-averse Bollywood producers promoting the creation of music they believe will be hit, weary music directors who sell out to make a fast buck or suppress their creativity to play it safe, short-sighted music labels who abandon music lovers with discerning and/or niche taste and build businesses around a large market that is not very picky, a clueless media that refuses to acknowledge a creative world beyond Bollywood and lastly, Indian music listeners who either don’t have the time to explore and experiment or don’t care. (The Indian aversion to paying for music also figures somewhere here but that’s a topic for another day.) Ironically, Bollywood music not only overwhelms other music, it even cannibalizes itself. There are many Bollywood musical gems that do not reach many people simply because all the parties mentioned above don’t do enough to uncover them from the rubble.
An example of BO. I don’t know if you have listened to FM radio stations lately but the last I timed tuned in, I could almost anticipate the next song. What’s wrong with the RJs and radio stations? Can’t they play anything other than film music? Scratch that. Can’t they play anything other than “hit” film music? The other day a chirpy RJ ran an indipop special. She went on and on about how much she loved indipop, interviewed Dr Palash Sen to prove it and went on to play Bollywood staples! The poor doctor must have been squirming in his seat. Clarification, lady RJ – the “indi” in indipop stands not just for Indian but Independent.
Another example. What’s the point of Bollywood shows? Are our movie stars the best dancers in the country? Or is it their lip-syncing talent that brings in people in droves? I have nothing against people who attend these shows – I have many dear friends who do. I just wish that they display the same (if not more) enthusiasm for the talent of real dancers and real musicians.
Bollywood produces some very good music. However, I refuse to believe that it represents the entire creative prowess of a country with a billion people. Indian music lovers deserve more choice – more artistes, more genres, more musical styles.