Thursday October 18, 2018

Music: Is it for our good now?

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By Preksha Buttan

Music is said to be a universal language. It has been there since humans gathered the ability to appreciate sound and take note of elements of nature like rivers, wind, chirping birds and so on. There is hardly any person who does not like music. Almost everyone listens to it, gets affected by it and enjoys it in his/her own style.

With hundreds of years having passed, nature around us has changed. Humans and their lifestyle have gone through a huge evolution while technology has constantly endeavored to enhance our lives. With these, bollywood music has also come a long way.

Among the things that have changed and have affected music is technology. Today, a person who barely knows anything about music can create it using latest software and applications like ‘Reason’ or ‘Ableton Live’ and publish it on social media. Music created through software has taken the place of live band members. We are gradually losing the human touch.

Instruments are going through a make-over as well. Flute has come a long way from being a thin hollow bamboo stick with holes to plastic and metal ones with more dynamism, for instance.

While purely instrumental music never fails to touch the heart, it’s the beauty of the words which give the piece a more concrete meaning. Lyrics are the soul of music. According to Wikipedia, lyrics can be defined as: They are words that make up a song, usually consisting of verses and choruses. The meaning of music often lies in its lyrics. So, whatever the lyrics are like, the song will be reflected in the same way.

picture credit: indiannewslink.co.nz
picture credit: indiannewslink.co.nz

Along with all the changes that Bollywood music has seen over the years, lyrics are the most affected part, having undergone dramatic changes. Earlier, music had a softer touch and lyrics were more meaningful. Songs used to convey a message, whether it was religious or about love or friendship. Take a song from Bollywood movie Andaz sung by Kishore Kumar: “Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana” (Life is a wonderful journey. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow.) Lyrics should speak about the hidden nuances and the truths of life.

Nowadays, songs are rather empty with shallow lyrics which have no deep impression to offer other than some head-banging enjoyment to the younger generation. Consider a song of the film ‘Yariyaan’ for instance: “Aaj blue hai paani paani pani paani paani paani, aur din bhi sunny sunny sunny sunny sunny sunny” (The water is blue and the day is sunny today).

The elderly describe songs from their time as reasonable, inspiring and conveying a sense of philosophy of life that dwelt on from love, romance, friendship to words of wisdom. Songs such as these had a certain depth and a soothing nature which brought peace, or made us think. Complaining about latest trending songs, they say, the songs impart a wrong message about love, friendship and values to the youth, owing to which, they are moving away from Indian traditions.

picture credit: movies.suleka.com
picture credit: movies.suleka.com

Observe the lines from the song Abhi toh party shuru hui hai sung by Badshah and Aastha: “Thaka thaka jo feel kare wo jaake dou RedBull gatak le”, “Aur jisko dance nahi karna woh jaake apni bhains charaye”, “Hum hain bete hum, baaki saare paani kam; Humein rok ke dikhaaye jiski bum me hai dum” . Another example is the song Jaa chudail from ‘Delly Belly’ in which a girl is described in a very crude manner. For more, one can listen to Engine ki seeti from the movie ‘Khoobsurat’, Lip to lip from ‘Katti Batti’, G phad ke from ‘Happy Ending’ or Khoon choos le from ‘Go Goa Gone’. There is an endless list of such songs composed in last five to ten years.

In our fast-paced lifestyle where every appointment is a click away, where we have no time to take it easy and actually ‘feel’ a song, the younger generation chooses to pick songs with tempos as fast as their lives, shallow in meaning, but nevertheless upbeat.

Earlier, songs on friendship went like: “Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge, todenge dam magar tera saath na chodenge” (We will not break this friendship, I may break my pride but I will not leave your side); or “Tere jaisa yaar kaha, kaha aisa yaaraana; Yaad karegee duniya teraa meraa afsaana” (There is no friend like you, there is no friendship like this; world will remember our story). Now, however, this is what a song on friendship sounds like: “Mera yaar bada swanky; Hai karda hankey pankey; But daaru di ye tenkey; Not karda danga haaye”. So crude and vulgar are these lines that providing a translation for them would be a disappointment.

“Hume tumse pyaar kitna yeh hum nahi jaante; magar jee nahi sakte tumhaare bina” (I do not how much I love you but I cannot live without you) is a line from an eternal love song sung by Kishore Kumar. Today’s songs which go like– “mein kitna tanhaa tanhaa lonely lonely tere bin, O Baawariya!” (I am so alone, alone, lonely, lonely without you)– are fast gaining popularity. Words which are meant to reflect our deepest feelings of love are currently working at destroying all such feelings.

One major reason for this deterioration in the lyrics of Bollywood music is the effect of westernization. The youth is adopting a modern style and picks up things which make them look modern. Gone are the days when a person would fall in love and spend his/her days in bed signing along with Kishore da’s songs. They are more likely to do a Honey Singh and take out the girl for “Chaar bottle vodka”.

picture credit: tumblr.com
picture credit: tumblr.com

But then, any change is not completely good or bad. It would be completely wrong to say that today’s music is totally meaningless.  There are still many pieces which are heart touching. For example, Raabta from ‘Agent Vinod’“Kehte hain: Khuda ne iss jahaan mein sabhi ke liye kisi na kisi ko hai banaaya har kisi ke liye; tera milna hai uss rab ka ishaara maano mujhko banaya tere jaise hi kisi ke liye” (It is said that, God has made someone for everyone. Meeting you is like God is sending signs to me that you are the one made for me); Bande hai hum uske from ‘Dhoom 3’“Bande hai hum uske, humpe kiska zor, ummedon ke sooraj nikle chaaron ore” (We are his men, nobody other than him has control over us. Light of hope spreads all around), Give me some sunshine from ‘3 Idiots’– “Give me some sunshine, give me some rain, give me another chance, I wanna grow up once again”. These are just a few, but the list goes on.

But the sad truth is that it is the meaningless lyrics with their pumped up repetitive beats which are the most popular today. These songs are everywhere—be it at a marriage function, birthday party, nightclubs, on autorickshaws or even during pujas in certain areas. On a daily basis, you can see many people listening to them with the bass throbbing in their headphones, humming to them while going to work, or kids dancing to them at every little function.

Different kinds of music promote different feelings in the mind of the listeners. Since things can never remain the same, music will also change with time. Changing human notions, upcoming trends, small and big occurrences in the world will all modify our taste in music. Time will bring innumerable changes. Some will be more adaptive than the others. However, music will take its own course in the world and we can only hope to preserve what was once good while keeping our eyes open for the next big trend.

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India’s #MeToo Movement Makes The Most Glamorous Industry Its Subject Of Scrutiny

While India has been under the spotlight for sexual violence against women, sexual harassment at the workplace has seldom been under scrutiny.

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#MeToo, women
Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta presents a creation by designer Sanjeet Anand at the Bangalore Fashion Week in Bangalore, India. VOA

India is in the midst of its #MeToo moment as leading figures from the country’s entertainment and media industries face a volley of accusations of sexual misconduct from growing numbers of women.

The firestorm has had a powerful impact. In recent days two leading editors have stepped down, a Bollywood production house has been shuttered, India’s top comedy troupe faces an uncertain future and a popular author has apologized.

#MeToo
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar (front) arrives in Venezuela’s Caribbean island of Margarita for the 17th Non-Aligned Summit in Venezuela. VOA

The allegations have also touched the government. India’s junior foreign minister, M.J. Akbar, is among those named by several women journalists for alleged misconduct during his previous tenure as a leading journalist and editor. He has not yet responded to the allegations and foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, did not comment either.

The trigger for India’s #MeToo campaign came from Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta who last month filed a police complaint in a 10-year-old case alleging that a leading actor, Nana Patekar, behaved inappropriately during a film shoot. He has denied the accusations and sent her a legal notice.

Soon after, a female comedian, Mahima Kukreja, accused a former member of comedy group All India Bakchod, Utsav Chakraborty, of sending her lewd messages and photos. Following similar accusations by other women, Chakraborty apologized on Twitter saying, “It’s a little too late, but I am sorry.”

The two allegations appeared to have touched a nerve among many women in media. During the past few days, there has been an outpouring on social media from scores of women journalists sharing their experiences of inappropriate behavior, ranging from suggestive messages to unsolicited advances with #MeToo.

#MeToo
Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. VOA

The Network of Women in Media group called it a “watershed moment for all of us in journalism,” and said it encouraged more women to “document their accounts without fear or inhibitions.”

In the glitzy Bollywood industry, producer and writer Vinta Nanda, accused actor Alok Nath of sexually abusing her almost 20 years ago on a Facebook post. Nath has told a news agency, “It must have happened, but someone else would have done it.”

Nanda told reporters the movement taking place is “very encouraging, very enabling and this is the reason why I have brought it up.”

Lawyer Vrinda Grover who has helped draft India’s laws on sexual abuse and harassment, said that enabled by technology and social media, women had spoken out because in a new environment, “They will not be immediately blamed as in the past.” On the other hand, it is bringing consequences for harassers.

A high profile movie company, Phantom Films, was dissolved after HuffPost India published an investigation alleging that one of the founders, Vikas Bahl, had assaulted a female employee after a party in 2015. The other partners apologized for mishandling her complaint.

#MeToo
Queen” star Kangana Ranaut hasn’t been far behind in calling out Bahl,

A popular author, Chetan Bhagat, issued an apology after a woman uploaded a screen shot of a text in which the married writer said he wanted to “woo” her.

The editor of a leading newspaper, Times of India, K.R. Sreenivas, has been sent on leave pending an investigation after several women accused him of making sexual propositions. The political editor of another popular daily, the Hindustan Times, Prashant Jha, stepped down after a former colleague accused him of harassing her.

Amid a global movement to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct, Indian women have picked up courage, said journalist Rituparna Chatterjee. “The floodgates to women’s anger have been opened.”

Some women said they were inspired by the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, the university researcher in the United States, who accused, without evidence, U.S. supreme court judge nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. He is now a Supreme Court justice.

#MeToo
The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

This is not the first time when efforts have been made to bring the #MeToo movement to India, but in the past it has quickly faded away. Last year for example, a crowd-sourced list of academics accused of harassment got little attention.

Also Read: Nana Patekar Denies Accusations of Sexual Harrassment

But lawyer Vrinda Grover calls the ongoing spontaneous campaign a “significant moment” in the effort to address workplace harassment. But she points out that the women who have spoken out largely represent the educated, urban elite and says it will be much harder for those working on shop floors, on construction sites and as household maids to bring attention to their stories.

While India has been under the spotlight for sexual violence against women, sexual harassment at the workplace has seldom been under scrutiny. (VOA)

One response to “India’s #MeToo Movement Makes The Most Glamorous Industry Its Subject Of Scrutiny”

  1. Although this exposure applies only to the famous men, it surely will open eyes of less successful men involved in this kind on action. But just like men many women employees are also lazy/useless/inefficient etc. So punishing those women employees could be tricky for bosses because they can claim punishment for their refusal for bosses’ advances.