Guitar 756326 960 720


*Ruk Jaa O Dil Deewane plays on the radio:
“This is a nice song! What movie is this? Let’s go watch it”


“Hey! This meme’s funny, I must listen to the song!”
“This is a nice song! What movie is this? Let’s go watch it”


The process might have gotten a little longer but the core value has remained the same. Music is one of the biggest marketing tools — if not the best, for the Indian film industry. Indian films started as musicals and they remained musicals, unlike their Hollywood counterparts. It might have been due to budgeting constraints or playback singers becoming pop artists or pop artists being recruited for playback, but Bollywood never veered off from musicals.


The music director, lyricist and sound designer were second only to the camera crew. Soon, even the camera crew got trapped by the music and soon the costliest and most elaborate shots were being used for dance sequences. No wonder the audience was always entrapped by the musical performance of the movie and soon that was what sold the movie. You took R D Burman or Laxmikant-Pyarelal for your music, no matter how bad everything else was, the audience still flocked.


And that’s how the domination grew till the point that whenever someone heard an Indian song, the first question was, “Which movie is this?” Forget about who composed it. Even now a lot of people may say it was because of Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone (Or Ayan Mukerji) that they wanted to watch Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, but that number would have diminished if the trailer songs were not competent. It’s not uncommon to hear people singing along to the songs of First Day, First Show in theatres! Even now classic films live on through their songs more than their dialogues. Sure you can make memes out of dialogues, but humming a tune is again more memorable (for now at least, until again the industry shifts).

This wasn’t very much different from what MTV did in America, with music videos being a huge selling point for the music to get famous. But there, it was two separate industries. In India, it’s just one monopoly.

This trend made playback singers into stars and so much so that any musician wanting to be famous had to enter the industry. No one could escape it. Kailash Kher has made and continues to make numerous independent and album hits like Teri Deewani and Saiyyan. But his most famous song? Allah Ke Bande was, in fact, a movie song. The movie was Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II starring Arshad Warsi. No one remembers the movie but the song is an evergreen classic for today’s millennials, and also how Kailash Kher got famous. In this case too, the inclusion of the song in the movie was important, even if the movie flopped. For any song to succeed, it has to be included in a movie, ANY movie; that is how the industry was shaped.


But no, there are independent hits, you say. Gajendra Verma’s Emptiness or Tera Ghata… And that’s pretty much it. Acting independently, that’s all the super hits he could come up with it. Meanwhile, KK (a much better singer, yes) who hasn’t sung a new hit song in years, still makes more money in his concerts singing 15-year-old hits that again are evergreen now because of their inclusion in movies.



Even the singing contests on national television, that was a TRP super force in the 2000s focussed on film music, with winners bagging deals with movie producers, etc. How would anyone be motivated to start their band or sell their album (Streaming just made making money even more difficult) when the biggest and brightest singers themselves were unable to make money doing it. Still, there was hope and there is hope again.



The late 90s was a time when film music won again because it started converting the independent artists. Hariharan, Shaan, KK all of them became famous selling albums but again were recruited by Indian films extinguishing that fire. That too has continued for years now with the likes of Honey Singh, Badshah, etc.

The age of the internet has some hope. For the past few years it has been streaming vs film music. Because of cheap recording equipment and Facebook, YouTube, etc, budding artists like The Local Train and Prateek Kuhad do not need the film industry to make a dent in the charts. But again, Udit Narayan just made more money re-singing 10 lines of his old hit (and he still sounds great!), and until that changes, new artists will never be motivated enough to expand the album culture in India.

Even though it looks like streaming just might win, it will most probably turn out to be the lesser of two evils, as the monetary intensives are peanuts compared to anything that Himesh Reshammiya can throw at you.

Trending Stories

Latest Stories

Leave a comment

Leave a comment