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.
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.
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”.
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.