2013 Hindi film music – Vanishing traditional touch?

This year amidst the barrage of pre tuned item numbers, there was a lot of good music that made it’s way to our ears cutting out all the noise. The year started on a good note with films like Matru ki bijlee ka mandola and Kai po che that had a good mix of folk and contemporary songs and while we cannot term it as purely ‘folk’, films like Mere dad ki maruti oozed with regional flavor peppered with familiar folk undertones. Not all good music was folk though. Films like Chennai express, Aashiqui 2, Go Goa Gone, Ghanchakkar, Nautanki saala etc. had a strict urban sound as a whole and they were good enough albums alright! Staying on the urban sound of an album, even a film like Ye jawaani hai deewani, which was set in urban landscape had a holi song that was a mix and mash of a lot of folk/traditional songs. Indeed, we are talking about balam pickari.

Nobody gave the entire music album a regional/traditional flavor the way in which Vishal Bharadwaj did (for Matru ki bijli ka mandola). An album that was dipped completely in folk, Vishal didnt even shy away from putting a folksy ode to Haryana in the dreamy ‘Khamakha’. This album also introduced masses to Prem Dehati, a voice that we will love to hear in the times to come.

Amit trivedi was in top form too in demonstrating that he can offer us a folksy Shubharambh (from Kai po che) just as easily as he can play with bengali folk and come out with Monta Re (from Lootera). A.R. Rahman for his part did more experimentation with folk genre in Raanjhanaa with splendid offerings like Tum Tak, Aye sakhi and Banarasiya cocnentrating more on the sound and arrangement. Even bits and pieces in the very sticky ‘Tum tak’ from the same film smells folk and refreshingly so. Shankar ehsaan loy also flirted from a distance in ‘Mera Yaar’ (from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag). Music director Krsna stayed true to the template and made Malini Awasthi and Raghubir yadav sing bhagan ke rekhan (for issaq), a heart breaking song that could have done much more had the film been  success.

As the year drew to it’s close, we were served a colorful mix of folk meets contemporary by music duo of Sachin Jigar in Shudh desi romance which was refreshing. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, while famous for larger than life frames served us a delicious bit of Gujrati folk in the form of ‘Mor bani thandhat kare’.

Of course the year was full of 100 crore film soundtracks who did nothing except add to the noise pollution levels but we choose to focus on the good music and we cannot wait to see how 2014 unfolds and tries to retain and build upon this trend. A dying trend that keeps us rooted to the sounds of our country which are as diverse as all ragas.

Do you think we are being served right amounts of folk/traditional songs? Or do you think we are just keeping the sound alive by a one off composition in an otherwise cluttered environment?

Since film music is promoted better than the pop music in India (a trend that would be broken soon thanks to growing online access for the masses), it is only wise to expect film music to be the flag bearer of keeping this tradition alive. I won’t mind being bombarded with a good kajri/thumri a million times on Television/other platforms. It would certainly be better than seeing a flop hero advising her screen girlfriend to keep her doggie away from biting him!

We are sure to have missed few things here anyway, so please feel free to add your picks.

P.S. – We have got a flavor of some via the music of dedh ishqiya where traditional compositions are topped with additional words and treated differently to sound ‘new’. Not complaining. At all!

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