Most of the Bollywood music over decades sums up to love songs and sad songs with a dash of Indian classical meets urban background score. Bollywood music is distinct and has a unique tonality. A cult in itself Bollywood still needs to explore vast music genres and go beyond love and sad themes, minus the sing-dance songs. What Bollywood has given its audience is a motley of various music genres, yet remains in its nascent stage. Lyrical and poetic in nature, Bollywood lyrics are poetry in motion, sometime deep, sometimes skimming on the surface.
Talking of music of the Hindi cinema, classics were composed without a lot of background score. There was more singing and less of noise. The mainstream music genre that appeals to masses in India has a cusp of qawwalis,pop, disco, folk, and ghazals. Bollywood music relies heavily on poetry.
Lovingly called PanchamDa, R.D Burman composed evergreen retro hits wanting to make you live through that era over and over again. His songs had spunk of the 60’s and 70’s and the element of joy and happiness. The romantic and dance numbers had an urban twist for retro songs pictured in simpatico settings. Using, most of the musical instruments of the Indian origin, he created magic in the retro Bollywood music.
Lakshmikant-Pyarelal duo composed Bollywood music using folk and rock and roll style of composition. Using a mix of western and Indian instruments, they created melodies that can never get old or outdated. One of the distinct styles of the duo was to combine Indian and western stringed instruments and create original melodies in singing and dance sequences. Not as celebrated as other legendary composers, Bollywood songs composed by the legendary duo rocked the 70’s and 80’s era through the 90’s era. Could you ever get bored of Jumma Chumma from Hum movie composed by the duo? Most of the songs played in the popular radio program of the yesteryears- Binaca Geet Mala played most of the songs of this legendary duo.
Bappi Da brought disco to India and reigned in this genre creating a portmanteau of Bollywood meets disco. You can still have some fun listening to his compositions starring Mithun Da and Anil Kapoor. If you are a millennial and still live in the 90’s, most of the songs that remind you of your days of yonder were composed with a western style by Jatin-Lalit, Annu Mallick, and Nadeem-Shravan.
You can learn Indian classical as a distinctive musical genre, but you cannot specifically learn Bollywood style of singing unless and until you have a base of Indian classical music. A.R Rahman has not composed a lot of Bollywood songs, but the niche that he has created has a signature style of his composition. He is a music director, a true legend, who goes beyond Bollywood music, and explores various genres, to create melodies and symphonies that are magic to the ears.
Pritam, Vishal-Shekar duo, Salim-Suleman duo ushered the 21st century of Bollywood music that has been a cusp of EDM, house and pop music. Today what you hear is not the authentic Bollywood music that the legends of the yesteryear’s had created. The compositions today in Bollywood are assorted genres, and lack purity. They sound mellifluous, but lack the purity is apparent compared to the authenticity of music in the 60’s and the 70’s Bollywood music. That was the era of awakening. Music all over the world was awakened taking you to different realms, and so did Bollywood create its mark in music with these celebrated musicians.
Musicians are too limited in exploring musical genres and stay limited to boundaries of safety net that brings them commercial success. There should be no guilt attached to making music commercially viable. But then again, lack of experimentation in music and lyrics in Bollywood is an epidemic without a cure yet.
The only hope remains is with the musicians and composers of the new wave and new generation who I hope still give regard and pay respect to the classics and do not forget to explore.