2001 - 2010: The decade that was: 10 things that changed the face of HFM

Author: Dr. Mandar

The post-millennium decade will go down the annals as the 'Decade that changed the face of Hindi film music forever.' Contemporary Bollywood music has left behind its pre-millennium identity and has evolved as a totally new entity. The songs of today are hybrid products of globalization and technological invasion. They sport a different sound, they show a different attitude and they even speak a different language! What more- this new generation music has well and truly managed to crossover and woo the audiences world over! Purists may not even recognize it as 'Indian' any more but this brand of music is here to stay and thrive! Here are ten things that led to this dramatic change.

1. Orchestration

Enter synthesizer, exit acoustic instruments! That's the simple if bitter truth about today's orchestration. Sitar, sarangi, santoor, tabla, dholak, strings (violins), accordion, mandolin, conga – practically every major acoustic instrument has been chucked away by today's music. The electronic keyboard, octapad, western drums and guitar suffice for most of contemporary songs!

2. Recording technology

The advanced multi-track technology has done away with live recordings. The 'Song' is less important and the 'Sound' is everything! The software-doctored sound-loops thus sometimes get more mileage than the singer's voice!

3. Pop and Remix- era

The short-lived success of Indi-pop and remix-era in the beginning of this millennium taught Hindi film music a few things. Bollywood rapidly learned that with correct beat-driven packaging any voice (sorry- any 'sound'!) sells! Now the original soundtrack album itself features the remixed versions of its own songs!

4. Reality music-shows

The growing popularity of reality music shows (Saregamapa, Indian Idol and Voice Of India) gave a new platform to many young talented singers. But their overkill also ensured that practically no one singer of today would ever reach the revered status of yesteryear legends! 'Here today, gone tomorrow' is the ongoing theme!

5. Different voices

One thing is for sure, Bollywood music has never enjoyed the mind-boggling multitude of singing voices as it does today. From the 'old world-like' voices such as Sonu Nigam, Shaan and Shreya Ghoshal to the 'new world' voices such as KK, Kunal Ganjawala, Kailash Kher, Sukhvinder, Sunidhi Chauhan and Suzanne, the variety of vocal textures in Bollywood is simply amazing. Oh yes, and how could I ever forget the phenomenon called Himesh Reshammiya?

6. Star- singer dissociation

No longer the heroes and the heroines are now associated with pet playback voices, today the singer changes according to the demand of the situation. So in any film, now we routinely we see stars lip-synching to drastically different-sounding voices in different songs! In Om Shanti Om, Shahrukh used playback of 5 different singers (KK, Sonu Nigam, Abhijeet and Sukhvinder Singh) in 5 different songs!

7. New composers

Rahman showed the way and others followed. The new breed of composers (Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Pritam, Vishal- Shekhar and the likes) are largely unaffected by (and perhaps even oblivious to) classic Hindi film music's influences. Their musical philosophy is typically modern, urban and global!

8. New language

'Shining in the setting sun, like a pearl up on the ocean, come and feel me!' Could you imagine these lines in a 'Hindi' film-song ten years back? Flowery Hindi- Urdu dominated film-songs have become a thing of past. Hinglish has become the officially accepted language in the contemporary song! Lyricists like Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Prasoon Joshi and Swanand Kirkire have shown that meaningful songs can still be written in this drastically changed lingo!

9. Changed song-genres

Lots of song-genres, which were once popular have become obsolete in today's times and are being replaced by new alternatives. Where do we get to listen to traditional Bhajan, Ghazal, Mujra, Qawwali, Lori (lullaby) and Indian semi-classical songs in Bollywood films today? Solos have become much lesser, duets are featured more. Sufi, Rock, Hip Hop, Lounge and Asian Underground musical styles have become the staple of contemporary Bollywood. Amidst the confusion of fusion, 'Item song' has become the only item on the menu!

10. International appeal

Bollywood songs have no longer remained an exclusive domain of Indian artistes. From across-the-border Pakistani singers (Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Adnan Sami and others) to the western world imports (Snoop Dogg, Kylie Minogue and the likes), now we see so many different international artistes 'chiggy-wiggying' their musical fares in B'wood!

Interestingly even the West has realized that this new sound of Indian music is fun to hear and Rahman's Oscar-win just points out that!

'Jai Ho'!

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