Bollywood seeks to revive raw Indian music

New Delhi: It’s hard to remember the last time a Hindi film song resonated to the clear sound of a harmonium or a flute, thanks to the introduction of technologically advanced synthesisers and other recording equipment. But many composers are now striving to bring back the lost charm of raw Indian music.

Composers like Sneha Khanwalkar and Ajay-Atul or Indian Ocean`s vocalist Rahul Ram have experimented by bringing back the rawness in their music and have succeeded in striking the right chords with youth, without adopting western tunes.

Khanwalkar is the woman behind the distinct music in Anurag Kashyap`s ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. Her songs "I am a hunter", "Womaniya" and "Chhi chha ledar" have a blend of rustic beats, with local folk singers adding up to the regional flavour. The music is desi to its core.

She believes in spending time with the artists and using their true talent.

"If a song is based in one place, that place has its own quality. People have their own of way of thinking and talking, which is different from how we think in the city. So it is important to know how they sing and render their music," Khanwalkar told IANS.

"It is only after you know the place that you will be able to imbibe its quality in the song. If the director of the film is going all out to depict something skillfully, then I just try to do the same thing with the music of the film," she added, pointing out to Kashyap`s knack of bringing the real as is on reel.

Ajay-Atul, who composed music for Karan Johar`s remake of ‘Agneepath’, tried to retain the charm of raw music with compositions like "Chikni chameli" and "Gun gun guna". They recorded the songs with live instruments. "Chikni chameli" is the Hindi version of their Marathi hit ‘Kombadi palali’.

Singer Sukhwinder Singh, who has done playback in Prakash Jha`s upcoming movie ‘Chakravyuh’ and sang for Ekta Kapoor`s "Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum", feels 90 per cent of the composers are making music by modern ways while the rest 10 percent try to retain the old charm.

"We used dumroos in `Hum hai cappuccino` in `Kyaa Super...` and in one of the songs in `Chakravyuh`, we have instruments that naxalites generally use to make their music. What I am trying to say is good work is still happening in the industry," Singh told IANS.

And it is important too, as he feels "you have to be extraordinary to make a place for yourself in Bollywood."

The music of Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Rowdy Rathore’ also boasts of regional music with songs like "Aa re pritam pyaare" and "Chinta ta ta", which find inspiration from the south.

Also, remember the chartbusters "Des mera" and "Mehangai dayan" from Aamir Khan`s ‘Peepli Live’. The lyrics and music immediately struck a chord with the viewers. These were composed by the Indian Ocean band.

"There can be nothing more raw than `Mehangai dayan`. Even we use computers and synthesised instruments, but we use live on it. They (modern and old technology) will co-exist. Even I miss the rawness sometimes," Rahul Ram, lead vocalist of the band, told IANS.

Though the Indian version of Coke Studio has helped in reviving the old world charm in a big way, Ram feels Coke Studio of Pakistan is rawer than ours.

"Coke Studio Pakistan has given us an impetus - we are nowhere close to that. When you talk about raw, that is raw, mixed with guitar, bass, keyboard, everything is played. Singer sings, modified, but they have managed to keep the rawness," he said

"In India, I feel Coke Studio is over-produced. It`s become too slick," he added.

One hopes the trend does not translate to the big screen!