Youngistan on a song
SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO
The voices are new and so is the outlook of composers, creating lilting Bollywood treats.
Noteworthy Naresh Iyer
Here’s a test: Listen to 20 recent hits on your iPod and try to guess the singer. We bet you wouldn’t be able to get all the answers right. Young, fresh voices have taken over, signalling the death of monopoly. You’d know Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Shreya Ghosal and Sunidhi Chauhan. How about Rashid Ali, Runa Rizvi or Benny Dayal? Despite not knowing Rashid Ali too well, you’d be humming Kabhi Kabhi Aditi… Get the picture?
“Films are becoming more urban, cool and younger, underlining the importance of fresh voices. A new voice brings in freshness to the film and the songs. If you have a new actor, getting a young singer to do the playback would be a good combo,” says composer Salim of the Salim-Sulaimaan duo. Salim himself has introduced Shruti Pathak for Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. “There’s a constant search in the industry to bring in new, talented voices. A decade ago, composers were not open to experimenting with different voices with the exception of A.R. Rahman. Composers today realise that people want variety,” he says.
Rahman, as music lovers are aware, has been and is a pro at identifying young singers. He arrived with Chotti Si Aasha (Roja), which was backed by music that was new to the era and the singer, Minmini. In the same film, he rediscovered Hariharan, once rejected by a renowned Tamil composer duo and Hariharan has been delivering hits in regional films till date.
A few of Rahman’s finds have been accepted by critics as well. Naresh Iyer, who made Masti ki Paathshala and Roobaroo anthems in 2006, won the National Award for best playback singer for Roobaroo (Rang De Basanti). Likewise, singer Javed Ali, who started singing in mainstream films in 2000, was at his best crooning Jashn-e-Bahara (Jodhaa Akbar).
Shankar Mahadevan credits Rahman for initiating the change and adds, “Because people are listening to different tunes today, there’s scope for experimentation. Singers like Sonu Nigam and Shaan are malleable to the requirements of the song. But you need different voices for different genres; when the Sufi wave set in, you needed singers like Kailash Kher, Shafaqat Ali and Rashed Ali Khan.”
The influx of the new has raised the bar for existing singers. Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Kay Kay, Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghosal continue to be in demand.
A still from ‘Jaane Tu...’.
Shaan, though, feels that no singer has re-written the rules for singing in the last four years. “When Hrithik Roshan entered films, he set new standards for acting. No one has done something similar in film music,” he says. “It’s good that there’s variety; heroes are getting younger and so are the singers. In the process, a few undeserving, amateurish singers are also getting a chance. As an anchor of television shows, I think if it’s a waste of time to insist that youngsters should get their sur and taal right. Because, you can give a hit despite not being pitch perfect,” he adds.
Salim disagrees and sums up, “If a singer doesn’t get his rhythm right, he or she will be replaced after a couple of songs. You cannot succeed diluting the basics,” he says.
Kabhi Kabhi Aditi — Rashid Ali
Pappu Can’t Dance — Benny Dayal, Naresh Iyer, Satish Chakravarthy, Aslam, Blaaze, Tanvi, Bhargavi
Nazrein Milana — Benny Dayal, Satish Chakravarthy, Sayonara, Darshana, Svetha, Bhargavi, Anupama
Jashn-e-Bahara — Javed Ali
Pehli Nazar Mein — Atif Aslam
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