There have been three phases in the Indian music industry. The first phase was when Classical and Bollywood were the only genres of music known and nobody ever listened to anything other than those songs. The second phase saw people opening up to foreign artists and other musical styles viz a viz rock, rap and the like. It was during this phase that the new generation became attracted to foreign artists and started considering Indian music, especially Bollywood music as ‘uncool’. Actually, they themselves didn’t really believe that it was “uncool” but the world forced them to think otherwise.
The world could never understand the Bollywood way of making music. Think about it, dancing and singing with a group of dancers suddenly emerging out of nowhere whenever you are happy or sad doesn’t always make sense, does it? The world didn’t accept it because they could not understand it and we didn’t accept it because the world couldn’t understand it. During this period, the younger generation saw a shift in musical preferences. Now everybody wants to listen to Eminem and wants to be able to sing like him because that is considered cool.
The third phase in the music industry still has not arrived completely. This is the phase where India finally starts producing bands/artists who get known throughout the world and make the so-called ‘cool’ Indians come back to their roots. Consider the following situation:-
You(to your friend) – Man, I heard this really cool new artist called Raghu Dixit!
Your friend – Haha, you listen to Indian shit? Man, that’s crap. Eminem is the way to go!
This situation is not far fetched, it has happened to a lot of us. There are always some people who do not believe in following the herd and believe in trying out new artists, while the others simply follow the rat race and listen to the top artistes go for the tried and tested ones. So, when such a different person tries to talk to somebody who isn’t different, it leads to a clash and ultimately the different person has to shut up, because he doesn’t have much to say as his country doesn’t have a cool artist who is known worldwide. We don’t have a Greenday like America does, nor do we have a Coldplay like England does. Yet, that doesn’t mean our own music is pathetic.
People argue that India has never had a decent rock band. The fact is that rock bands in India never got much of a chance to go global. The only “known” rock band from India is perhaps, the Parikrama. The more music literate people might have heard of Euphoria, Silk Route and Indian Ocean. Not many go beyond that. However, in the last 3-4 years, a number of new artists have emerged who have shown that Indian music is not only Bollywood. It is now much beyond that. One such artist was Rabbi Shergill, who dared to be different and even sold big time. That is when Sufi style of music suddenly caught up with the modern Indian and you could hear “Bulla Ki Jaana” blaring in every other car.
Then there is A.R. Rahman, who is probably the only globally known Indian in the music industry. He has always been different from the other music directors and that is why his songs sell. If we look at recent times, a number of new bands and solo artists have emerged. The one thing common amongst all of them is a very rock-ish feel and nice, meaninful lyrics and no useless shouting. If I am to talk about two such bands, I shall talk about Agnee and the very recent The Raghu Dixit Project .
Agnee shot to stardom with their single “Sadho Re” which has bass guitars and drums to give you the complete rock feeling. Not all the other songs from the album became popular but some of them are really good, perhaps even better than “Sadho Re”. One of them is “Keh Lene Do” which is a slow romantic ballad. Another one is “Kabira” which has blended the essence of rock and Indian lyrics to perfection. You can notice the influence of Sant Kabir, the ultimate Indian poet througout their album. Almost all the songs have couplets which were written by Kabira. And to make it sound good, there is the electric guitar, the bass guitar, the drums/percussion and for the Indian flavour, a flute and a violin.
The Raghu Dixit Project is basically a band whose lead singer is Raghu Dixit. It seems like a solo album but when you listen to it, you will realize that it isn’t. The most popular song from this album currently is “Hey Bhagwaan” which can be seen on MTV quite often. All the songs have amazing energy. There are two songs namely “No Man Will Ever Love You, Like I do” and “I’m in Mumbai Waiting for a Miracle” which have a few lines in English. The violins and electric guitars in almost all the songs in the album are worth listening to. I can say they are almost as good as any other international artist I have listened to.
Looking at these two emerging artists, I think that the third phase in the music industry, where an Indian would be proud to listen to music made by his own countrymen, is not far away. It is just round the corner and the only thing you need to do is take that one more step.