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Indipop, Come back!
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Author:  Kuldeep Gautam [ Tue May 31, 2011 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Indipop, Come back!

Bollywood has long killed Indipop, resulting in the jukebox rotations of music by international pop artists.

The year was 1995. Alisha Chinai had become a household name, thanks to her pop number Made in India. Composed by Biddu, this offered the right mix of folk beats and international feel. The impact of its success was palpable as Indipop albums by Remo Fernandes, Usha Uthup, Baba Sehgal, Colonial Cousins, KK, Shaan and Sagarika, Sonu Nigam and Lucky Ali flooded the music stores. Indipop ruled as Bollywood churned out soppy music during a period that can be called one of its worst phases, quality-wise.

This rule, however, was shortlived. Bollywood bounced back with the likes of AR Rahman and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy introducing fresh sound. In the following years, though Indipop continued to have a presence on internet, it stopped being the force that it was in the ’90s. Instead, international pop with the emergence of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Shakira took over. They have Indians singing and grooving to their music while the never ending jukebox rotation of Michael Jackson still prevails. This also implies that the slump in the non-film market in India continues.

Singer Shibani Kashyap is of the opinion that India had every reason to become a hub of pop music. “There was great original music, talent and all the artistes were also consummate performers. But they couldn’t keep up with Bollywood and eventually got absorbed by it,” she says. Raghav Sachar, pop artiste-turned-playback singer, echoes, “One reason behind this slump is that the pop stars migrated to Bollywood. Most of them did not want to spend a lot of time and money on making solo albums and this includes me”.

Like Sachar and Kashyap, singer KK moved to Bollywood after a successful stint with pop. “It is those cheap and silly remixes that spoiled what was going on” says KK. Singer Shubha Mudgal’s grouse is directed at music labels, especially the artist and repertoire (A&R) managers. They often focused on the cosmetic appearance of a video and not on the music. “Music industry has let itself be ruled by people who do not understand anything about it. Then there were artistes who were trying to fit in the bill of pop artists because the label asked them to do so. I will not take any names here but they lost their own style after that,” she says.

Over the years, channels and companies have stopped nurturing pop artists. In such a scenario, artists like Sachar not only found “Bollywood an easier option” but also launched his own label. In the defence of music labels, Manu Kohli, A&R manager with Music Today, says, “Music labels are running a business. They were backing pop when everybody was backing it. So the moment they thought that the format was not working, they withdrew support.” According to Kashyap, bringing out Indipop albums became a not-so-profitable venture for music companies due to piracy.

Despite the odds, Indian musicians are still hopeful that Indipop will make a comeback. “All it needs is attention by music labels and honesty by the artists,” says Mudgal, who also adds that the entry of Coke Studio in India may just give pop the zing and versatility which it once enjoyed. KK suggests various ways of promoting Indipop including a radio channel dedicated to non-filmi numbers. Kashyap says that use of MySpace and YouTube as well as digital downloads can be the answer. The most practical suggestion comes from Kohli. She says that co-existence of Bollywood and pop would make life easier for artistes and the music company. Living in a movie-crazy nation, it’s probably the only realistic option if pop music needs to survive.

- Suanshu Khurana,
ExpressIndia!

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