Focus: Popular Music in Contemporary India 9781138585454, 9781138585461, 9780429505249

Focus: Popular Music in Contemporary India examines India’s musical soundscape beyond the classical and folk traditions

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Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Information
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of contents
Part I Understanding Indian Music
Chapter 1 India in Musical and Cultural Perspective
Identity and Indian Music
Linguistic Identity
Indian Environments
Sacred Geography
The Monsoon as Inspiration and Devastation
Cultural, Musical, and Social History of India
Indian Diversity and Identity
Gender and Genre
Punjabi Women’s Songs
Hijra Identity, Origins, and Musical Associations
Religious Practices and Music in India
Vedic Chant – An Oral Heritage
India’s Devotional Soundscape: Bhajan, Kirtan, Qawwali, Sufi Songs
Mirabai’s Bhajan
The Politics of Mirabai
Kabir Bhajan
Chapter 2 Concept and Style in Indian Music
Introduction to Indian Musical Aesthetics
Indian Classical and Western Classical
Indian Musical Concepts of North and South
An Exploration of Carnatic Raga-s and Form
An Exploration of Hindustani (North Indian) Raga, Tala, and Form
Thumri Example
Indian Music Notation
Bhatkhande and Paluskar
The Popularization of Folk Music
The Manganiyars: New Approaches on a Rajasthani Folk Tradition
Anatomy of a Manginayar Folk Song
Bhojpuri Pop Music
Tamil Nadu
Part II Popular Music in India
Chapter 3 East–West Cross-cultures: Inspiration and Collaboration
Early Jazz Music in India
Calcutta’s “Cabaret Row”
Indian Women in Jazz
Jazz in the Cinema
Indian Music in and from the West
Indian Music in the Western Consciousness
East–West Meetings (the 1960s–1970s)
“Ravi Shankar is the Godfather of World Music” – George Harrison
Anand Shankar and the Beginning of British-Asian Fusion
Subramaniam and Carnatic Fusion
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Emperor of Qawwali and Peter Gabriel
Zakir Hussain: Tabla Maestro and John McLaughlin: Guitar Hero
The British-Asian Wave: Born in Britain, Remade in India
The Indian Diaspora Sings
From Punjab to Birmingham and Back
The Rise of the Asian Underground in UK and India
Indi-pop Nation
Daler Mehndi: Bhangra Indi-pop Superstar
Alisha Chinai: Global Indi-pop Superstar
Desi Hip-Hop: Beyond Indi-pop
Chapter 4 Indian Film Music: Aesthetics, Hybrids, and Representations
Introduction to Indian Cinema
Indian Cinema Represents
Film Songs as National Music
Indian Cinema as Musical Cinema
Playback Singing
Film Songs and the Moral Universe
Film Songs and Media Distribution
The Anatomy of a Film Song
Standard Film Song Formula
Romance/Love Songs
The “Item” Number
Representational vs. Presentational Picturizations
Song and Dance Spectacle
Overview of Film Music Eras
Aesthetics in the Golden and Classic Ages
Playback Singers
Film Song Form
Film Music Post-1990
New Bollywood (1990s–Present)
Two Streams of Music Post-1990
Towards a Unified Contemporary Sound
Picturization Analysis: “Satrangi Re”
Chapter 5 India’s Independent Popular Music Scene
The Origins of Independent Popular Music in India
1960s Rock Music: Setting the Stage
The 1970s: Forging Indian Rock
The 1980s: Rock on the Rise
Indian Rock
India’s Contribution to Acid House
Hindi Rock
The 1990s: Indian Rock Comes into its Own
Regional Rock
The Northeast
The Bangalore Music Scene
Mumbai and Central India
The New Music Scene: Fusion Rock and Beyond
Contemporary Music Festivals
Vedic Metal, Gully Rap
Gully Rap
DJs and Electronica
Part III Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today
Chapter 6 Youth Music Culture: Bollywood and Beyond
Rock Meets Bollywood: A Love Story
Rock in Early Film
Rock Comes of Age in Bollywood
Sufi Rock
Tapping the Youth/Digital Market
India Streaming
Cable TV – Reality Music
Does India Want its MTV? Yes, But On its Own Terms
MTV India: A Battle of Popular Aesthetics
The Internet
With T-series, India Owns YouTube
School and Youth Music Culture
Western Pop: Inspiration and Appeal
Chapter 7 Modern Music Guru-s
A. R. Rahman: The Sound of Popular Film Music in India
Rahman’s Big Break
Composition Style
Folk on the Road: The Raghu Dixit Project, Bangalore Folk-Rock
Big Break
Compositional Style
Thermal and a Quarter (Bangalore Rock)
Big Break
Compositional Style
The Local Train
Big Break
List of Interviews
Conclusion: Indian Popular Music into the Future
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Focus: Popular Music in Contemporary India
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Focus:  Popular Music in Contemporary India examines India’s musical soundscape beyond the classical and folk traditions of old to consider the culturally, socially, and politically rich contemporary music that is defining and energizing an Indian youth culture on the precipice of a major identity shift. From Bollywood film songs and Indo-​jazz to bhangra hip-​hop and Indian death metal, the book situates Indian popular music within critical and historical frameworks, highlighting the unprecedented changes the region’s music has undergone in recent decades. This critical approach provides readers with a foundation for understanding an Indian musical culture that is as diverse and complex as the region itself. Included are case studies featuring song notations, first-​ person narratives, and interviews of well-​known artists and emerging musicians alike. Illuminated are issues of great import in India today –​as reflected through its music –​addressing questions of a “national” aesthetic, the effects of Western music, and identity politics as they relate to class, caste, LGBTQ perspectives, and other marginalized voices. Presented through a global lens, Focus: Popular Music in Contemporary India contextualizes the dynamic popular music of India and its vast cultural impact. Natalie Sarrazin is Associate Professor of Music at The College at Brockport, SUNY, with a dual position in the Department of Theatre and Music Studies and the Arts for Children Interdisciplinary Program.

FOCUS ON WORLD MUSIC Series Editor: Michael B. Bakan, Florida State University The Focus on World Music Series is designed specifically for area courses in world music and ethnomusicology. Written by the top ethnomusicologists in their field, the Focus books balance sound pedagogy with exemplary scholarship. Each book provides a telescopic view of the musics and cultures addressed, giving the reader a general introduction to the music and culture of the area and then zooming in on different musical styles with in-​depth case studies. Focus: Popular Music in Contemporary India Natalie Sarrazin Focus: Music and Religion of Morocco Christopher Witulski Focus: Music of the Caribbean Sydney Hutchinson Focus: Choral Music in Global Perspective André de Quadros Focus: Scottish Traditional Music Simon McKerrell Focus: Music in Contemporary Japan Jennifer Milioto Matsue Focus: Music, Nationalism, and the Making of a New Europe, Second Edition Philip V. Bohlman Focus: Irish Traditional Music Sean Williams Focus: Music of Northeast Brazil, Second Edition Larry Crook Focus: Music of South Africa, Second Edition Carol A. Muller Focus: Gamelan Music of Indonesia, Second Edition Henry Spiller


Natalie Sarrazin

First published 2020 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 Taylor & Francis The right of Natalie Sarrazin to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data Names: Sarrazin, Natalie Rose, author. Title: Focus: Popular music in contemporary India / Natalie Sarrazin. Other titles: Popular music in contemporary India Description: New York : Routledge, 2020. | Series: Focus on world music | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019033636 (print) | LCCN 2019033637 (ebook) | ISBN 9781138585454 (hardback) | ISBN 9781138585461 (paperback) | ISBN 9780429505249 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Popular music–India–History and criticism. | Motion picture music–India–History and criticism. | Music–Social aspects–India. Classification: LCC ML3502.I4 S27 2020 (print) | LCC ML3502.I4 (ebook) | DDC 781.630954–dc23 LC record available at LC ebook record available at ISBN: 978-​1-​138-​58545-​4  (hbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​138-​58546-​1  (pbk) ISBN: 978-​0-​429-​50524-​9  (ebk) Typeset in Minion by Newgen Publishing UK


Series Foreword by Michael B. Bakan Preface Acknowledgements

vii ix xiii

Part I  Understanding Indian Music


1 India in Musical and Cultural Perspective


2 Concept and Style in Indian Music


Part II  Popular Music in India


3 East–​West Cross-​cultures: Inspiration and Collaboration


4 Indian Film Music: Aesthetics, Hybrids, and Representations


5 India’s Independent Popular Music Scene


Part III  Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today


6 Youth Music Culture: Bollywood and Beyond



vi  • Contents

7 Modern Music Guru-​s


Conclusion: Indian Popular Music into the Future




Series Foreword

Recent decades have witnessed extraordinary growth in the arena of ethnomusicology and world music publishing. From reference works such as the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and Grove Music Online to a diverse array of introductory world music textbooks, and an ever-​growing list of scholarly monographs and hefty edited volumes the range of quality published sources for research and teaching is unprecedented. And then there is the internet, where YouTube, Spotify, websites, blogs, social media, and countless digital platforms for music delivery, multimedia production, and music-​related metadata have fostered a veritable revolution in the realms of all things musical, from production and reception to public access, commodification, and practices of listening, reading, and viewing. Yet for all that has come along and all that has been transformed, there has long been a conspicuous gap in the literature. For those of us who teach entry-​level area courses in world music and ethnomusicology subject areas –​the kinds of courses that straddle the divide between the introductory world music survey and the advanced graduate seminar, the ones that cater to upper-​division undergraduates or to new graduate students who have a basic foundation in the field but are not yet ready for the highly specialized studies of, say, a Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology-​based reading list  –​available options for appropriate core texts have remained slim at best. It is to the instructors and students of these types of courses that the Routledge Focus on World Music series is primarily directed. Focus books balance sound pedagogy with exemplary scholarship. They are substantive in content yet readily accessible to specialist and non-​specialist readers alike. They are written in a lively and engaging style by leading ethnomusicologists and educators, bringing wide interdisciplinary scope and relevance to the contemporary concerns of world music studies. While each volume is unique, all share a commitment to providing readers with a “telescopic” view of the musics and cultures they address, zooming in from broad-​based surveys of expansive music-​culture vii

viii  •  Series Foreword

areas and topics towards compelling, in-​depth case studies of specific musicultural traditions and their myriad transformations in the modern world. When you adopt a Focus book for your course, you can count on getting a work that is authoritative, accessible, pedagogically strong, richly illustrated, and integrally linked to excellent online musical and multimedia supplementary resources. Threading the needle between pedagogical priorities and scholarly richness, these are texts that make teaching specific topics in world music and ethnomusicology meaningful, valuable, and rewarding. I am delighted to be part of the team that has brought this exciting and important series to fruition. I hope you enjoy reading and working with these books as much as I have! Michael B. Bakan The Florida State University Series Editor


In the spring of 2014, I was on sabbatical in India and working with a music teacher in a Nursery through 12 school in Delhi. After school one day, I  sat chatting with a group of about ten high school students in between music rehearsals, when one piped up and said “do you know that some people in India eat with their hands?” The other students expressed that “ewww” moment –​tinged with a bit of revulsion in that way that teenagers do, and I was shocked. This is a culture in which utensils are anathema to the native cuisine, and eating with your hands common practice in every village household and beyond. It was, in fact, the way that I and my in-​laws ate every day. My point here, is that India is an incredibly diverse place, and it is easy to believe one point of view or one set of traditions applies to the entire culture. The students I worked with sang Britney Spears or would pick up a guitar and play “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, while thousands of people living in the area right behind the school have never even heard of the genre of rock and roll. Youngsters in Mumbai in the 1970s might have listened to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, while millions of villagers have never had access to a record player. This book tries to take all of this variety and diversity into account, and hopes that the reader understands that while the musicians written about in the book may jet around the world touring, millions of villagers haven’t ever ridden in a private automobile or felt air conditioning.

The Goals of Music in Contemporary India Music in Contemporary India explores the unity and diversity of popular music in India today, from the sound studios of Bollywood to the independent bands trying to make their way into the popular music scene. Descriptions, examples, and discussions contextualize musical ideas and practice within India’s particular cultural worldview, which is uniquely shaped by millennia of performance practice and Hindu and Muslim ix

x  • Preface

philosophies of sound from Sanskrit Vedas to Sufi songs. Music has long been a catalyst for the mediation of tradition and change in India. Within India’s borders and throughout its diaspora today, Indian youth are largely re-​defining music, as the terms through which they negotiate and represent themselves in contemporary lives of profound diversity and complexity. The goal here is to highlight this new trajectory of popular Indian music, by bringing the cutting edge of Indian contemporary music and its impact to the forefront in a field that is both understudied and overlooked. India is known for its diversity and complexity, found in its hundreds of languages, and numerous regional, urban, suburban, and national cultures. Nowhere is this more evident than in music, which encompasses the full range of expressive cultures and identities in India. Although, in the past, a large share of scholarly attention and status was given to classical music and folk traditions, India’s musical soundscape is culturally, socially, and politically rich in contemporary music as well. Stimulated by Bollywood film, economic liberalization, technology, and social media, Indian music has undergone unprecedented changes in recent decades. The explosion of new music genres and styles is fueled by thousands of musicians experimenting with Indian sounds (folk, film, classical) and non-​Indian global genres (jazz, rock, hip-​hop, reggae), to create their own fusion languages. These innovations mark a turning point in 21st century India, where music is defining and energizing a youth culture on the precipice of a major shift in identity. While there is a good deal of material written on India’s film music –​by far the largest contingent of popular music in India, India’s non-​film popular music has received much less attention. Recently, documentaries and online material on popular rock, metal, and jazz music has popped up, and helped to inform the material in these pages, creating what I hope is a basic collection of resources on this topic. The book uses an ethnomusicological approach to sound, focusing on the music making and construct of musical concepts and ideas. This approach is utilized throughout –​from the classical traditions through to the present analysis of contemporary pop and rock music. What influences musicians choices in India? How do language, culture, and social factors impact what musicians do and who they are?

How This Book is Organized Focus:  Music in Contemporary India offers a new and exciting approach to the study of Indian music, concentrating primarily on youth culture and contemporary popular music styles –​from Bollywood film songs and Indo-​jazz to bhangra hip-​hop and Indian death metal. The book takes care to situate this exploration of the new and the now in centuries-​old traditions of Indian classical, folk, and religious musics. This approach is timely and revealing, as contemporary Indians –​particularly the denizens of Indian youth culture in India and abroad –​struggle to define a new space of cultural identity that celebrates their contemporary, international realities against the backdrop of a past-​ looking society that deeply values its rich and multifaceted cultural traditions. The book is divided into three parts. Part I, “Understanding Indian Music,” reviews the history and fundamental aesthetics of India’s music traditions, particularly the classical and traditional elements that inform India’s contemporary genres. Unlike other discussions of Indian music, however, this section stresses Indian music’s cosmopolitan nature, making note of the numerous influences outside of India (Persian, Arabic) in the

Preface  •  xi

form of instruments, style, timbres, practice and theory, and the nuances of continuities in cultural practice. This concentration highlights India’s fluid musical culture rather than conceptualizing its classical and semi-​classical forms as entrenched, “untouchable,” or isolated traditions. Indian vocabulary and concepts are included in order to help the reader understand basic terms and aesthetics involved in Indian music –​terms that persist in contemporary popular music as well. From there, the discussion moves to “non-​pop” popular musics of India; the semi-​classical, folk, and religious traditions. A brief description of classical, semi-​classical and the most influential devotional genres (bhajan, qawwali), and regional folk music, highlight local, ethnic, and cultural diversity. These forms present strong cross-​and inter-​cultural elements, as they celebrate poetic traditions, the forms of the divine, and a wide range of regional and local identities and sentiments. Each vignette addresses significant musical elements and performance practices of each genre, and their relationship to their ongoing popularity, influence, and cultural consumption in the contemporary music soundscape. Part II, “Popular Music in India,” delves into the newer genres of popular music in India, beginning with its most influential and popular form –​Indian film music –​ and then shifts focus towards its independent bands and artists. As the most significant popular genre in India’s musical pantheon, film music is explored in detail with regard to its musical and social meaning, hegemony, and massive cultural and global impact. Inclusion of the controversies surrounding Indian film music are examined, as the paradigm shifted in mid-​century, from classical to popular film music. This change foreshadows a second paradigm shift that occurs with neo-​liberalization at the end of the 20th century, which sees the rise of alternate communication platforms (e.g. social media, global TV programs, internet). After an overview of the musical and visual aspects of film music, I focus on its cultural reach, including Bollywood’s hybrid genres (filmi-​ghazal, filmi-​bhajan, filmi-​rock, filmi-​pop), all of which represent significant popular genres in and of themselves. In addition, this section addresses the critical issue of Indian films most powerful mode of representation, the “picturization,” which defines, represents, and creates identities –​giving and taking away voices to caste, class, religion, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, and foreigners. The unit then addresses the political and cross-​cultural influences between “Western” and Indian popular music, situating them in relation to two larger paradigms: a political one, in which the climate for Western sound was desired amidst a period of nation building and liberalization, and a social one, in which experimentation, exoticism, and globalization increased in intensity. This discussion leads into the origins of inter-​cultural fusion music, where the book will explore histories of Indo-​jazz, Indian rock, hip-​hop, pop, as well as Western music, such as classical, jazz and blues. An additional area of discussion is the Indian diaspora, and the impact of genres like bhangra and the Asian Underground. Finally, I summarize the emergence of a new post-​Bollywood aesthetic, influenced by technology, large market forces, globalization, mass-​mediaization, and post-​liberalization. Part III, “Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today,” explores the contemporary music scene in India, as originating in New Delhi and Mumbai, including a discussion of musicians, vocalists, festivals, venues and clubs, technology, music education and training. This section features case studies on influential artists in India’s jazz, rock, filmi and fusion band scenes, presents them as talented musicians, composers and performers who are inspiring and training the next generation of contemporary musicians. I present examples of young musicians, from high school through young adulthood, as they

xii  • Preface

pursue their musical careers, training, and certification, and learn from a new and old generations of musicians, presenting an in-​depth look at the lives of a teenagers in India as they pursue their dreams to become musicians.This section ends with in-​depth case studies not only discusses known contemporary artists in intimate case studies of both well-​established and up and coming popular musicians from A. R. Rahman and Raghu Dixit –​both internationally known and formidable in the Indian music industry to rock and pop bands such as Thermal and a Quarter from Bangalore and one of the most cited up-​and-​coming bands in India, The Local Train. Discussions with these musicians focus on their musical and compositional processes, and examine their songs styles in depth. Each of these case studies reveals the current state of popular music in India as it develops in the shadow of Indian film music.



The idea and research for this book began during my sabbatical in 2014 and continued to 2018, for which I was supported by a post-​tenure grant by The College at Brockport and multiple internal Faculty Scholarship grants that allowed me to travel to India regularly for research, and for that I am grateful. No book is written without a great deal of sacrifice and understanding. This one would not have been possible without the support of my colleagues at The College at Brockport who carried on in the department while I was cloistered in my office writing, my husband Anand Dwivedi who patiently helped with Hindi translations and my son, Arjun, who knew to “leave mommy alone while she’s writing.” I would like to thank my colleagues and friends in India, Anjli Mata of Trinity College, and Ritesh Khokhar of Rock School, Ltd., who introduced me to students, teachers, and musicians of all types and the exciting popular music scene happening in India from classical to rock. Scholars and colleagues who have supported me and whose work has inspired me along the way include Victor Vicente, Scott Horsington, Jayson Beaster-​Jones, Gregory Booth, Bradley Shope, Peter Manuel, Alison Arnold, Linda Hess, Anna Morcom, Peter Kvetko, and many others whose work I  relied on. I  also thank the musicians and music educators who spent time talking with me sharing their music and their lives, including Aditya and Tarun Balani, Ramit Mehra, Raman Negi, Sahil Sarin, Paras Thakur, Gaurav Vaz, Raghu Dixit, Bruce Lee Mani, Rajeev Rajagopal, Chirag Jain, Alphons Joseph, and A. R. Rahman. Editors Michael Bakan and Constance Ditzel for their patience while I was writing, and for Michael’s excellent comments and direction on the rough draft. Finally, I  thank my research assistant Brigette Meskell, who took a keen interest in Indian popular music and in addition to editing, compiling, and organizing, helped with research on gender in Indian film. I also thank my students in my Indian film music class for inspiring and thoughtful discussion on music and Hindi films. xiii



Understanding Indian Music

Part I, “Understanding Indian Music” reviews the history and fundamental aesthetics of India’s music traditions, particularly the elements that inform India’s contemporary genres. This section stresses Indian music’s indigenous traditional forms: classical, semi-​ classical, religious, and folk styles, instruments, timbres, practice and theory. It also highlights India’s cultural and musical identity, making note of its cosmopolitan nature and outside influences as varied and fluid rather than entrenched in isolated traditions. These forms present strong cross-​and inter-​cultural elements, as they celebrate poetic traditions, sacred sounds of the divine, and a wide range of regional and local identities and sentiments. Vignettes address significant musical elements and performance practices of each genre, and their relationship to their ongoing popularity, influence, and cultural consumption in the contemporary music soundscape. Along the way, the reader is introduced to Indian vocabulary and concepts to help navigate the complexities of Indian music as it evolves into modernity and westernizes.



India in Musical and Cultural Perspective

A. R. Rahman’s 2011 world tour “Jai Ho: The Journey Home” opens with a musical and metaphorical “journey” obliquely related to the Oscar-​winning Indian composer’s life. A spotlight finds a young boy named Malachi in the middle of the audience, and follows him as he runs hither and thither searching for someone or something. Backed by a cacophony of world percussion, drum set, voices, a drone, and a flute frenetically improvising in a South Indian style, Malachi reaches the stage to find a Rahman lookalike who is running in place. All the while, an orchestral arrangement of the song “The Journey Home” emerges from the sonic chaos –​a number from Rahman’s score for Bombay Dreams, which was a Bollywood-​themed musical produced in London in 2002. Highlights from A. R. Rahman’s entire life are flashed across the stage backdrop in the manner of illuminated train windows passing by. The A. R. R. lookalike is lifted up in the air as the real Rahman descends from a white staircase, centerstage, surrounded by dancers sporting Indian garb representing various groups from around the country. Directed by Amy Tinkham, the tour featured a panoply of styles, images, and messages, including a tribute to Michael Jackson (“Black or White”) and Indian “patriotic” numbers replete with visuals of Gandhi and Independence freedom fighters. Rahman sings a moving duet, “Luka Chuppi” (“Hide and Seek”) from the 2006 film Rang de Basanti with a 30-​foot hologram of 81-​year-​old Lata Mangeshkar, India’s most revered film playback singer. Song lyrics in the show are in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu, and English representing India’s varied but collective culture. Buried amidst Rahman’s pop-​and techno-​based film songs are his hip-​hop numbers, sung by the Chennai-​born rap artist Blaaze, as well as North and South Indian classical numbers composed by Rahman. Religious representations of both Islam and Hinduism are depicted in the scenic design –​one of the most obvious being a giant Ganesh (the elephant God that removes obstacles from people’s paths), which accompanied a number from Bombay Dreams. 3

4  •  Understanding Indian Music

While critics have questioned the cohesiveness of the production, there is no denying that the wide range of sources, sounds, and images in the Jai Ho Tour represent not only A. R. Rahman the musician, but also India in the early 21st century. The tour is emblematic of India’s internal diversity as well as its globalized influences. Midway through the production, for example, Rahman pays tribute to Michael Jackson by singing “Black or White,” while the young Malachi1 imitates Jackson’s dance moves. Michael Jackson remains highly popular in India and was one of Rahman’s musical inspirations. Rahman’s pop influences are prominently displayed in this homage while he also honors his more traditional folk and classical Indian influences. The tour production is also representative of global India. The themes of victory and journey are indicative of two of Rahman’s highly successful international collaborative productions  –​one with Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and the other with Andrew Lloyd Webber of Bombay Dreams (2002). The title of the tour, Jai Ho: The Journey Home, is an amalgam of two different song titles from those productions. “Jai Ho” (“May Victory Be Yours”) is Rahman’s Oscar-​and Grammy-​ winning song from Slumdog Millionaire that depicts the struggles of a Mumbai teen growing up in the slums who has a shot at becoming a millionaire on a game show. The second part of the title, “The Journey Home,” is a song from the musical production Bombay Dreams, about a boy from the Bombay slums who has a shot to make it big in the Bollywood film industry. “The Journey Home,” sung by the hero as he returns home, is filled with longing for his family as he realizes his heart had always remained in the slums. One could speculate in the choice of title, of course, that Rahman identifies with the slum boy in some way, and that his own success of “making it big” in Mumbai2 parallels the journeys of the two boys. An analysis of the title “The Journey Home” reveals several interpretations that speak to both Rahman in particular and Indians in general. “Home” could refer to Rahman’s arrival on the global scene as a world phenomenon, or it could refer to the idea that he is bringing the concert “home” to Indians in the world diaspora for nostalgic consumption. One other possibility is that “home” refers to Rahman’s return to India, where the final tour dates occurred after his global triumph. In any case, Rahman’s life is representative of the style of popular music that has captured the Indian imagination –​a conglomeration of global sounds immersed within a quintessential “Indianness”. No other composer captures this as well as Rahman in the late 20th and early 21st centuries –​we will revisit his work later on.

Identity and Indian Music In India, music is a part of life –​from birth to death. (Raj Kapoor, Filmmaker, There’ll Always Be Stars in the Sky) The quote above by famous Bollywood film actor, producer, and director Raj Kapoor, reveals a certain truth about India –​that life is accompanied by music and song. As is the case with any statement about India, not everything holds true in all places. What is true for one section, region, or demographic (e.g. northern, southern, eastern, western, urban, rural, Hindu, Islamic, Christian) may not true of other parts of the country. Larger song repertoires are more likely to be found in more traditional areas of the country, and mostly in the rural north. The same goes for any of the hundreds of song genres that

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  5

accompany daily life events and religious rituals. The vernacular is critical in both lyrics and music, and more importantly, the predominance of the local –​both geographically and in terms of community, drives India’s musical engine as well as the reaction to it. Throughout these chapters, we’ll explore the ways in which Indian music is particular to the culturally diverse nature of the Indian experience. The following are examples of music marking different stages of the Indian life cycle. One cultural concern affecting musical choice is a child’s gender. Folk songs such as Sohar or Badhai, genres found in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, are sung to celebrate the birth of a male child with lyrics that equate his birth to that of Lord Krishna. Then there are songs accompanying ceremonies for the baby’s first day, sixth day, first haircut, and many more occasions –​genres of songs that are mostly non-​existent in other cultures. When thinking of a lullaby, we might envision a mother holding her baby and singing a Hindi equivalent of “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” or “Lullaby and Goodnight” all across the country as we do in the US or UK. However, this is not indicative of the Indian musical experience, which is much more regionally dependent. Except for a few imported English songs or popular Bollywood film songs, there is no unified, national song repertoire in India. A mother (or grandmother, or anyone in an extended family) for example, is just as likely to sing a lullaby in English, as she is to sing Bollywood film, a song in Hindi, Urdu, or one of a hundred regional, local languages. Similarly, many weddings have dozens of songs associated with them. Weddings in northern India have songs marking each step of the entire week of wedding festivities, including songs for the dowry ceremony, for protection, for seeking blessings, when the girl leaves her parents’ household, when mehendi (henna) is put on the bride’s hands, and when the groom mounts the horse to ride to the girl’s house to get her for the ceremony. Wedding bands then take over for the processions, which again play a range of folk and popular film songs for the occasion.

Linguistic Identity Language, music, and identity are inextricably linked and are of critical concern when looking at music cultures. State lines in India were divided in accordance with regional language groups, with Hindi (422  million), Bengali (83  million), Telugu (75  million), Marathi (71 million), Tamil (60 million), Urdu (51 million), Gujarati (46 million), and Punjabi (29  million) leading in terms of numbers of speakers. Local languages and dialects make up the remaining speakers. The 1,500 such forms of communication currently in use are a testament to India’s strong regional identities. Even when people are born in a large city such as Delhi, and learn Hindi, the family’s roots often lie elsewhere, leading to a highly multilingual population. There is an aphorism regarding language in India that says, “Hindi is no one’s mother tongue.” On first glance at the Census statistics, this statement does not seem to bear that out, as it states that over 40% of the population speaks Hindi as their first language. However, about half of those Hindi speakers speak the language in its pure form, while the other half speak 49 Hindi-​related mother tongues. The number of people who speak Hindi as a second and third language is quite high, at 100 million and 31 million respectively. According to the 2001 Census, bilingualism and trilingualism is high in India.3 Over 60% of the country speaks a language other than Hindi, 255 million people speaking more than two languages, and 88 million speaking more than three. English,

6  •  Understanding Indian Music

spoken as a native language by a scant 200,000 people, is India’s second most spoken language, with over 125 million learning it as their second or even third language. India is the world’s second largest English-​ speaking country. Most business is conducted in English, as is much of the news, social media, online communication, teaching, and instruction. Indians living outside of the “Hindi belt,” mostly in north and central India, do not speak Hindi as a first language and use English to facilitate transactions between regions. Hindu-​dominated political parties prefer Indian languages to be spoken, whether Hindi or any number of regional dialects. Despite this, most education, including a plethora of English-​medium schools, flourish throughout the country, and are the norm in areas where there is money. Use of the English language in India, however, has significant connotations –​both positive and negative. English represents education, access, and global connections. Children living with village-​born grandparents, who may be compelled to learn English in school, are often raised speaking three languages including a local village dialect, the larger regional dialect which differs depending on location (e.g. Hindi, Tamil, Telugu), and English, which is the primary private school instructional medium. Housewives are discouraged from speaking English at home, which encourages children to maintain their mother tongue languages. Children can be taunted for speaking English with friends outside of school. Indians are also highly aware of how well or how poorly they are able to speak English, which results in feelings of superiority or inferiority depending on the circumstance. The issue of language and identity is of direct concern to popular music in India. Linguistic choice for songs directly affects audiences and musicians, reflects culture, and regional identities, and is not to be taken lightly (see Chapter 5 for further discussion). For example, popular musicians who sing in English know that they are appealing to only one segment of the population and might be questioned for not using an Indian language. Aside from English and Hindi, regional languages and identities are at the core of much of the folk, film, and popular music. A few that we will further examine include Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, and Rajasthani. All of these language identities are significant in India, of course, but are magnified in significance in that they are sources of great literature or represent large numbers of non-​resident Indian speakers. For example, Bengali is the second most spoken language in India after Hindi. In the Indian diaspora, Punjabi is spoken by a large majority of non-​resident Indians (NRIs) in England and Canada, Gujarati in the US, and Bhojpuri in Guyana and Trinidad.4

Indian Environments At 1,900 miles long and 1,800 miles wide, India uses a relatively small land mass, but experiences an astounding diversity of climates, weather, and geographic variation. Physiographic regions include islands, coastal regions, the Thar Desert in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the snow-​covered Himalayas in the north, and the north central Gangetic plain to the southern Deccan plateau. Climates cover the gamut from mountainous, humid subtropical wet and dry, to semi-​arid and arid, yielding deserts, rainforests, glaciers, and tundra. Average temperatures range from the forties Fahrenheit in the winter to the nineties in the hot season, while extremes can reach well below freezing in the north and sustained heat waves well above 110 degrees elsewhere.

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  7

Geography Geography plays a significant role in regional music. In areas with significant water shortages, like the deserts of Gujarat and Rajasthan, for example, songs like “Panihari” can expressively illustrate life arising from having to travel the great distances that women walk to retrieve water from small bodies of water such as a nadi (a watering hole) or kuan (a village well) (lyrics below). Songs about carrying water from faraway wells are unlikely to exist in areas where rainfall is plentiful or where each household has their own water source in their house or yard as is the case in more tropical parts of India. Sacred Geography India’s sacred geography includes locations that are sanctified according to images, ideology, and symbols promulgated by myth and religion. Sacred geography not only includes landscapes that house holy structures such as temples and mosques, but also physical features in the topography of the subcontinent itself. This topography includes the life-​giving goddess-​rivers the Ganges and the Yamuna that flow through India. The Himalayas are also seen as a god in and of themselves (Giri-​rāj), and function as a holy abode for deities such as Shiva, and holy men such as sages, yogis, and pilgrims. Scattered throughout the subcontinent are temples and mosques for pilgrims of all religions. Indeed, one can imagine the entire country as a network of pilgrimage sites, what Eck calls a “sacred geography as vast and complex as the whole of the subcontinent” (Eck 2013, 2). Such a network is a metaphor for all of India, replicated throughout the land into the local and regional. Sacred geographies exist in all corners of the country. Hindu pilgrims can attend a shrine a few kilometers away to a local healing deity for worship, or travel a few thousand kilometers to visit the major temple of a goddess (Vaishno Devi) or one of the well-​known deities (Badrinath, home of Lord Vishnu or Kedarnath, home of Lord Shiva); Sikhs can visit the Golden Temple in the northwest state of Punjab, and Sufi-​s. Muslims can visit numerous dargah or shrines of saints from the very local to the very famous, such as Moinuddin Chisti’s dargah in Delhi and Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai.5

Figure 1.1  Haji Ali Dargah (mosque) in Mumbai Source: Mukesh Barnwal [CC BY-​SA 4.0 (https://​​licenses/​by-​sa/​4.0)]

8  •  Understanding Indian Music

The Monsoon as Inspiration and Devastation Seasons change throughout the year in India, with the India’s Meteorological Department identifying four distinct ranges:6 Winter (January–​February) Pre-​Monsoon (also known as hot season or summer) (March–​May) Southwest Monsoon (June–​September) Post-​Monsoon (October–​December). (Adapted from Indian Meteorological Department n.d.) Three of the seasons contain reference to the monsoon, the defining season in India, when the winds reverse direction, and the rains arrive. The sudden onslaught of rain and cooling winds provide relief and a radical reversal of the hot, dry, arid winds from the northwest that define the pre-​monsoon season. The monsoon’s significance far exceeds its supply of yearly rainfall to support vegetation. It has captured the imagination of artists, writers, musicians, and lovers for centuries. The humid, yet cooling breezes of the monsoon season signify love and romantic unions, among images of verdant trees, flowers, dark rolling clouds, the pain of separation, playful excursions, tree swings, monsoon songs, the cry of peacocks, the deep resonance of distant thunder, and torrential rains saturating the parched earth. Inspiring literature, numerous raga-​s, poems, songs, and paintings, the monsoon evokes imagery like no other season. Lyrics, for example, sometimes romanticize a woman’s dark, flowing hair with billowing clouds. Raga-​s such as Megh, an ancient raga, capture the dark and serious moods of the monsoon, while Malhar conjures images of raindrops, thunder, rolling clouds, and lush vegetation (Asian Age, 2018). Kalidāsa, a great 5th-​century Sanskrit poet and writer, composed an epic poem, Meghadūta (Cloud Messenger) on the theme of the monsoon. In it, he traces the journey of a cloud in figurative and metaphorical language. Encapsulated in another of Kalidāsa’s poems, Kumārasambhava (The Birth of Kumara) is this stunning moment describing the onset of the monsoon: Sthitāḥ kṣaṇaṃ pakṣmasu tāḍitādharāḥ payodharotsedhanipātacūrṇitāḥ । valīṣu tasyāḥ skhalitāḥ prapedire cireṇa nābhiṃ prathamodabindavaḥ (Kumārasambhava 5.23–​24) With momentary pause the first drops rest Upon the lash then strike her nether lip, Fracture the ladder of her waist then trip And slowly at her navel come to rest (Translation, Daniel Henry Holmes Ingalls, Sr) Aside from the monsoon’s sensory elements (rain, clouds, humidity), monsoon art depicts the intangible features and essences of the season as well such as the anticipation and

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  9

expectations of pleasure, excitement, and anxiety. Monsoon means spring, a replenishing of life in a country where most lands receive only one season of rain per year. Will the rains be enough to quench the drought? Will they be too much and destroy the crops or worse? Will the heat and sun subside and clouds with cool breezes arrive? Idyllic paintings of young girls on swings and beautiful raga-​based melodies and poetry, however, do not do much in portraying the face of incredible devastation that the monsoon brings. Almost every year, headlines announce the death tolls often numbering in the thousands, as flooding destroys homes, coastlines, towns, villages, families, and lives. In 2017, the monsoon was responsible for over 1,200 deaths, billions of dollars in damage, tens of thousands of school shutdowns, millions left homeless, and an aftermath of unsafe drinking water and disease. Each year seems to outdo the last in terms of flooding in areas as far north as Assam as well as the more obvious coastal areas of Mumbai, Chennai, etc. Landslides are responsible for most of the deaths as the ground cannot absorb surplus rain from the torrential downfall, which, in the case of the northern areas, may occur atop of snow that is still on the ground, triggering land and mudslides that wipe out entire villages. Attitudes towards flooding and its sister discussion of climate change are prominent in Indian media (television, newspapers) and education. “In comparison to the skepticism in the North American and European press, the coding results suggest that the Indian press entirely endorses climate change as a scientific reality” (Billett 2010, 5). Schoolchildren regularly learn about climate change and are highly conscious of ways in which they can affect their environment, such as the current ban on plastic bags and straws. They then create songs inspired by their awareness. Examples of these songs, such as “Say No to Polythene,” can be seen in a video created by Universal High School in Mumbai as part of a community awareness anti-​plastic environmental project.7

Cultural, Musical, and Social History of India There are endless data that can be given about India, but of particular interest to our discussion are data concerning India’s diverse multicultural, and multilingual identity. This multifaceted identity has emerged from millennia of invasions, migrations, and globalization –​a continually changing and evolving process of interactions. India’s complex and multi-​varied identity is a result, in part, of deep local cultures –​with customs, language, arts, music, and systems of government from the local potentate down to the village councils. The following information on India highlights some of those interactions, which will be referred back to for the remainder of the book. India’s population of 1.32 billion is predicted to surpass that of China by 2050, and India’s parliamentary democracy system is considered the largest in the world. The Republic of India is relatively new –​only 70 years young, having gained Independence in 1947 after the British Raj relinquished rule. Prior to that, India consisted of over five hundred princely states alongside 17 British provinces. Each princely or native state existed autonomously in its own right, with external British influence. On the Indian subcontinent, trade and invasions played a major role in India’s development and impact on the world. The trade routes (incense route, spice route, grand

10  •  Understanding Indian Music

trunk route, and Silk Road) supported thousands of travelers across northern India for over two millennia. Due to the difficulty in passing the Himalayan range that protects India on its northeast flank, the Khyber Pass in the northwest became a significant trade and invasion route connecting the Arab peninsula with the Indian subcontinent. Most travel in and out of India occurred via land through this pass until the southern sea routes developed in the 15th century. Mongols, Arabs, Greeks, Turks, Ghaznavids, Afghans and hosts of tribes found their way into India either as aggressors or as empire builders over the centuries. Land routes ensured that most of this activity occurred in the north, while the southern coastal routes became accustomed to traders as the sea routes became increasingly traversed. Portuguese, French, Dutch traders and eventual rulers in the case of the British, took part in the second wave of invasions, so to speak, which were mercantile in nature. Land routes also resulted in military invasions in the north –​a few of which led to the establishment of kingdoms that ruled most of the subcontinent at one point. The Delhi Sultanate (1206–​1526) marked 500 years of rule that would extend through the Mughal Empire (1526–​1707) until the British Raj superseded their authority in the 18th century. Persian had become the official language, and the language of poetry and literature, until the British required that transactions be conducted in English. Empires and emperors varied in their leadership ability and stewardship of India. In the courts of both the Sultans and Mughals, however, the arts occasionally fared rather well. Poets, musicians, writers, dancers, and architects became part of the patronage system under many an emperor –​the most famous being Miyan Tansen, a musician who became a minister of culture in Jalal-​ud-​din Muhammad Akbar’s (1542–​ 1605) cabinet (one of his “nine jewels,” navaratna). Akbar’s son Jahangir (1605–​1627) and grandson, Shahjehan (1628–​1658), also supported musicians Bilas Khan and Lal Khan respectively. Along with the new rulers came new instruments such as the rabab (a lute-​like stringed instrument from Central Asia) and popular legend attributes the invention of the sitar and tabla to Amir Khusrau (1253–​1325), which all became part of the main instrumentarium of South Asia. INDIAN HISTORY THROUGH FILM Aśoka (2001) •

Early life of Emperor Ashoka who ruled the Maurya Dynasty, c.  268 to 232 bce.

Jodhaa Akbar (2007) •

Features the romance between Emperor Akbar and Rajput Princess Jodhaa Bai

Mughal-​e-​Azam (1960) •

Considered one of the greatest films in Indian cinema. Depicts a love story between Emperor Akbar’s son and a commoner.

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  11

Veerapandiya Kattabomman (1959) •

Tamil film depicting a 19th-​century chieftain who fought the British.

Lagaan: [Taxation] Once Upon a Time in India (2001) •

Set in the British colonial era, features villagers fighting the British Raj over high taxes

Gandhi (1982) •

Historical drama illustrating the life of Mohandas K.  Gandhi through the early 20th century.

Earth (1998) •

Historical drama on the Partition of India.

Bombay (1995) •

Tamil historical drama depicting the Hindu–​Muslim religious tension and riots preceding and after the destruction of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in 1992–​1993.

Border (1997) •

Film depicting real-​life events during the Battle of Longewala during the Indo-​Pakistan war in 1971.

Systems for good musical training, as well as social and financial support, are critical for music’s survival. For centuries in India, guru-​s mentored disciples in a spiritual relationship to learn scriptures, religious teachings, music, and the arts. This is known as the guru–​shishya parampara or teacher–​disciple lineage, which was established for millennia as the main method of teaching. Along with the Sultans and Mughals, classical music forms developed and were supported by the courts. The result was a gharana, or “house,” system of music education where students continued to apprentice with master musicians learning a particular classical musical practice and style. Each gharana, therefore developed a unique soundprint (see Chapter 2). India’s musical patronage system underwent massive change in the early 20th century in both North and South India as it shifted from prince and ruler patronage, going from the “court to the public, and from the prince to the populace” (Higgins 1976, 21). In the North, the gharana system, where students apprenticed with musicians, also underwent significant transformation. India’s rising middle classes, with increased access and democratization, moved students away from the hereditary systems to a guru–​shishya tradition, which crossed castes and religions. The guru–​shishya (“teacher–​disciple”) system became de rigueur as part of a middle-​class bourgeoisie upbringing in music colleges (Neuman [1980] 1990, 18–​21).

12  •  Understanding Indian Music

AMIR KHUSRAU (1253–​1325) No single historical figure illustrates India’s complexities of history, folklore, tradition, legend, Indo-​Muslim syncretism and artistic integration better than Amir Khusrau. Khusrau was the creator of many art forms, and was known as a musician and Persian poetic genius, the father of qawwali, the father of Urdu literature, the father of ghazal, Sufi mystic and favorite disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, an inventor of musical instruments and raga-​s, a scholar and writer. His family history parallels the trade migration seeing that his father was of Turkic extraction, born in a town near Samarkand on the Silk Road in what is now Uzbekistan, whose family fled from Genghis Khan’s attack on Central Asia and sought refuge from the sultanate in Delhi granted under the rule of fellow Turk Sultan Iltutmish. His mother was Hindu, from a Rajput family. Khusrau is legendarily credited with fusing together Persian, Urdu, Arabic, and Indian musical influences together to create qawwali  –​ a ghazal song style introduced to India, establishing an Indo-​Muslim syncretism (Qureshi 1993, 105). Lyrics, typically in ghazal and qawwali, often describe romantic love in parallel with divine love. In the last line of the verse below, Khusrau directly invokes his spiritual mentor Nizam in poetic imagery that equates an earthly, passionate relationship between lovers with that of the master–​disciple relationship. Poet of many ghazal-​s, Khusrau’s lyrics are said to transcend the constraints of Hindu and Muslim religions. The reference to chaap meaning stamp, brand, or imprint and tilak, a mark on the forehead worn by Hindus, implies that the sentiment is applicable to Hindus as well as Muslims: छाप तिलक सब छीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके बात अगम कह दीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके प्रेम भटी का मदवा पिलाइके मतवारी कर लीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके गोरी गोरी बईयाँ, हरी हरी चूड़ियाँ बईयाँ पकड़ धर लीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके बल बल जाऊं मैं तोरे रंग रजवा अपनी सी रंग दीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके खुसरो निजाम के बल बल जाए मोहे सुहागन कीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके छाप तिलक सब छीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके Chaāp tilak sab chhīnī re mose nainā milāike Bāt agam keh dīnī re mose nainā milāike Prem bhaṭī kā madhvā pilāike Matvālī kar līnhī re mose nainā milāike Gorī gorī baīyān, harī harī chuṛiyān baīyān pakaṛ hār līnhī re mose nainā milāike Bal bal jāūn main tore rang rajvā Apnī sī rang dinhī re mose nainā milāike

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  13

Khusro nizaam ke bal bal jaiye Mohe suhāgan kīnhī re mose nainā milāike Bāt ajab keh dīnī re mose nainā milāike You’ve taken away my looks, my identity, by just a glance. You’ve said the unsaid, just by a glance. By making me drink the love of devotion. You’ve intoxicated me by just a glance; My fair, delicate wrists with green bangles on them, Have been taken off by you with just a glance. I give my life to you, Oh my cloth-​dyer, You’ve dyed me like yourself, by just a glance. I give my whole life to you Oh, Nizam, You’ve made me your bride, by just a glance. You’ve said the wonder, by just a glance. The ghazal poetic form consists of five sets of couplets, which may or may not be thematically related. The couplets are threaded together by the repeated word(s) re mose nainā milāike, with the actual “rhyme” itself occurring in the word directly preceding that phrase –​in this case dīnī, līnhī, and kīnhī (see Chapter 2 for more on ghazal). Indian Diversity and Identity On a train ride from North to South India, one notices very distinct changes in the signage along the route. Signage in North India typically includes town names in English, Hindi, with Urdu underneath. As one heads south, the Hindi words for town designations reduce in font size, dropping down in their location on the sign until they are relegated to the bottom, beneath that of the local language and English. Of course language is required to change as the population changes, but the gradual lessening of Hindi’s importance seems like a metaphor for its decreasing cultural significance in the south. India’s diversity is a major part of its identity and a theme that is imperative to this book. As we have already seen, with over two thousand ethnic groups, hundreds of languages, and thousands of years of invasions, the culture of India is far from monolithic. According to diversity studies on ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity, India ranks near the top in terms of cultural diversity based on self-​identified groupings.8 One of the most prominent cultural identifiers is actually the division of India into geographic ideas of North and South. This distinction, based on language, ethnicity, and history, further developed into differences of cultural traditions including the arts, food, religious tradition, etc. India’s northern and southern identities include centuries of invasions, linguistic groupings, archaeological and genetic findings, and subsequent socio-​cultural change. People in South India originated from Dravidian ancestors and believe themselves to be the true, original Indians. They identify as separate from people in the north, who speak Indo-​Aryan languages and have been more exposed to outside invaders.9 Differences between North and South are even more exaggerated now, as

14  •  Understanding Indian Music

the South is experiencing falling birth rates and an aging population, and has a higher literacy rate. The large number of youth in India impacts culture in significant ways. India’s population under 25 is 50%, with 65% under the age of 35, but low birth rates in the South and higher birth rates in the rural North mean uneven growth. India’s social complexity also resides in overlapping groups of identities and loyalties –​ the smaller groups being caste, kinship, regional location, and gender, and the larger groups being religion and language. Religion and language often form the basis of large-​ scale political movements –​for example, Islamic unity’s role in the creation of Pakistan after Partition at the end of British colonial rule (1947); Bengali-​speaking people’s role in the creation of Bangladesh (1971), and Hindu Nationalism in the destruction of the Babri Masjid (1992) in which a mosque was destroyed by Hindus claiming it was the birthplace of Lord Rama –​providing the necessary unifying and motivating forces. Caste is one of the most consequential identifiers in India. Caste or casta, is a Portuguese word for race or lineage, derived from the Latin term castus, meaning pure, and is one of the most fundamental cultural systems that determines how people perceive and interact with one another. Markers of caste are deeply embedded into Indian culture, and include dress, languages, behaviors, and worldview. Even people’s names are a major signifier of caste rank. Caste, or varṇa in Sanskrit (meaning type, class, color) appears in early Brahminic literature to distinguish social standing, occupation, and so forth (Brahmins, Kshatriya-​s, Vaishya-​s, Śudra-​s). Jāti are the sub-​castes within in varṇa, and number in the thousands. Dalits (untouchables) and foreigners are not part of the system. Does caste still matter? The answer is yes and no. Much has been made of the caste system in India, and while there is great resistance to it, it still exists but its political and social rank is uneven in its impact and importance in everyday life. One’s caste affiliation affects people in two areas  –​with whom you can eat and with whom you can give your daughter to marry. This practice distilled in the aphorism roti aur beti (“food and daughter”) coined by Ram Mohar Lohia, a Gandhian freedom fighter. Arranged marriages, whether arranged online or in person, often require specific jāti information to make a proper match, even as those matches are taking place on online match sites. Caste also matters in terms of eligibility for government support. For example, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Scheduled Tribes and Castes (STs and SCs) are considered disadvantaged (economically and socially) by the Indian government and are often given reservations or quotas in terms of jobs or advancement. This creates social resentment by upper castes in India who are not eligible for such support. The social backlash against caste identity takes many forms. Some Indians, for example, prefer not to use their last names, which are a marker of caste, subcaste, region, language, and religion. This resistance is found in lower and upper castes as well. Dropping one’s last name nullifies the stigma of hierarchy in day-​to-​day relationships. INDIAN MUSIC TRADITIONS When Western music educators think of Indian music, they often remark on two musical practices that they perceive as significantly different from those found in the West. One concerns the primacy of orality in the musical

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  15

teaching and learning process. The second is the emphasis on improvisation. Instrumentalists, choral singers and even conductors in India typically do not have scores in front of them. Students of Indian traditional and folk music, may use copybooks with the lyrics notated, but never the music, and most students even in so-​called Western music classes in private Indian schools have never seen Western music notation. The use of the ear in Indian music and a distinct legacy of improvisation, carries into all forms of music education, from Indian classical to Western popular. India is still not known for notating its music –​be it classical, folk, or popular. Instead, classical musicians have developed a cognitive disposition towards orality (and aurality) in transmitting all of its music, regardless of genre. As mentioned earlier, the guru–​shishya parampara, or teacher–​student lineage, relies exclusively on lessons without notation. Instead, master musicians would memorize song repertoire, raga-​s, tala-​s, and lyrics in almost encyclopedic fashion.10 This learning style works well with contemporary music (jazz, rock, pop), which even in the US is not usually notated to the same extent as the classical traditions. Aurality of all kinds is highly venerated in India, but so are written texts. In fact, many texts rely on both oral and written practices, with the oral supporting some of the most ancient writings in human history. India is known for its textual traditions, such as the spiritual writings on Buddhism Jainism, and Hinduism. The Hindu texts, written in Sanskrit, are divided into two types –​śruti, or that which is heard, are considered eternal knowledge and not attributable to human origins, and smriti or that which is remembered, comprises text attributed to an author such as a sage. Śruti includes India’s ancient and authoritative religious texts, such as the Vedas and Upanishads, and smriti contain the epic poems of Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the Puranas, and Śastras.

Gender and Genre Folk music represents culture in all of its identities and forms –​from language, rituals religion, custom, caste, geography, and even types of local governments, be they liberal, conservative, socialist, or communist. India’s diversity, therefore, finds itself through creative expressions of folk arts, dance, and music. Folk music’s thousands of genres not only entertain, but also contain histories and stories of local deities and historic figures. Regional songs are local expressions of the population, environment and history, which can also incorporate the larger mythologies of Hinduism or Islam. Regions with higher rates of illiteracy and higher rates of tourism, such as Rajasthan, have held onto their folk traditions longer. Rajasthan’s folk artists perform with puppets, large scroll paintings with illustrations about brave deeds of folk hero-​deities and hundreds of songs about the local environment, sacred sites, deities, and population, thus giving people access to their cultural identity regardless of any written historical texts that might be available. In Rajasthan, for example, villagers sing epic stories of hero-​deities such as Pabuji and Dev Narayan, and panegyric poems and odes to kings such as Maharana Pratap are part of the sonic soundscape that maintain the legends, deeds, and history of the brave heroes.

16  •  Understanding Indian Music

Rajputs are legendary, as is their incredible bravery, strength, and ability to suffer for others. Their word is their bond, and many songs speak to the idea that a Rajput never breaks his promise. जननी जने तो ऐसा जने कि दाता के शूर Janani jane to aisa jane ke data ke shoor If a mother gives birth, then that son should be brave निकरीरे बांजरी तो मति जा मजे नूर Nikarari banjarii to mati jaa maje noor His body is strong like a rock and he has a brilliant mind रहे हाथ ढाल तलवार और मजबूती rahe haath dhaal talwaar aur majbootii He is armed with a sword, shield, and strength धर दे चमुंडा रजपुतो में मजबूती dhar de chamundaa rajpooton men majbootii Oh goddess Chamundaa, you fill the Rajputs with strength मुगलो की फौज मेवाड़ देश में आयी Mugalo ki fauz mewaar desh men aayii The Mughal’s force came to the land of Mewar गढ़ घेर लियो चितौड़ घटा दु छायी garh gher liyo chittor ghataa du chhaayii Surrounding Fort Chittor like a cloud of sorrow (“Maharana Pratap,” Mewari language folk song, Rajasthan) Bardic traditions are common as well, with musicians in castes keeping the stories and traditions alive as part of their hereditary duty. For example, there are castes of musicians in Rajasthan that can sing the entire lineage of ruling maharajas for many centuries. In agricultural areas, songs about local deities, planting, harvest, and rains dominate, while domestic songs are prevalent everywhere. The folk song “Panihari,” for example, is sung from the perspective of a female in the household, particularly that of a married woman. This song is both a woman’s song and a monsoon song, as it talks about girls on a swing during monsoon time, and the wife talking about her husband: 1.आज उतरिये में धुंथळो रे, पणिहारी जी हेलो –​म्रगानेणी जी हेलो। मोटी छोंटों रो बरसे मेव बालम ने Today, in the hazy dawn, O water carrier, O deer-​eyed woman, tiny water droplets are falling, O friend

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  17

2.सात सहेलियों रो झुलरो, पणिहारी जी हेलो-​म्रगानेणी जी हेलो । चाली-​चाली पानी रे पणिहार बालम न Seven girlfriends are swinging, O water carrier, O deer-​eyed woman, the water carrier is going to fetch the water, O friend 3. कुण जी खुदाया कुआ बावड़ी रे पणिहारी जी हेलो –​म्रगनेणी जी हेलो। कुण जी खोदायो भीम तालाब बालम ने Who had the well and the ditch dug, O water carrier, O deer-​eyed woman, and who had the massive lake dug, O friend? 4. भाभोजी खोदाया कुआ बावड़ी रे पणिहारी जी हेलो –​म्रगनेणी जी हेलो। वीरे जी खोदायो भीम तालाब बालम ने My husband’s brother had dug the well and ditch, O water carrier, O deer-​eyed woman, and my husband has dug the massive lake, O friend.11 This type of song is part of Rajasthan’s folk repertoire, evidenced by repetitive verbal patterns and redundancy with the words “O water carrier, O deer-​eyed woman,” which helps aid memory recall. This particular translation is by Bhungar Khan, a hereditary musician and leader of an internationally touring Manganiyar group who sing this and other such folk songs as part of their repertoire. The lyrics of narrative songs such as “Panihari” reflect a great deal more than the weather. They also includes the experiences of women away from the house, family, and social relationships. The song’s story takes place outside of the home, and away from the village. For women, these isolated locations are dangerous contexts in which they can be harassed. Therefore, women usually go to these peripheral locations only when accompanied by their female friends (saheli) for protection. Komal Kothari, the well-​known Rajasthani folklorist, notes that there are hundreds of ways storytelling can be studied –​ mythologically, familially, by studying professional storytellers and regular folk, women’s stories and so on. According to Kothari, in one version of the song “Panihari,” a man riding a camel comes upon a watering hole where a girl is drinking. He tells her of her beauty and asks questions of her. The girl is upset, and heads home with the man following her. She complains to her mother that he is harassing her, and her mother recognizes him as the man to whom her daughter is betrothed (Kothari 2004, 18). Bhangra

Bhangra is Punjabi folk music, typically associated with agriculture and fieldwork. Bhangra’s distinctive rhythm is now known throughout India and the South Asian diaspora. Bhangra became a huge sensation in the Indian pop world several decades ago, with its popularity spreading from British NRIs to India and back. Bhangra has even spread to colleges and universities in North America and Britain, which often hold bhangra team competitions. An example of gendered repertoires can be found in the highly popular bhangra folk songs originating in this northwest state. Bhangra refers to a song and dance genre, traditionally performed by men. Lyrics are repeated, and tempos are upbeat, often described as highly energetic and infectious. Bhangra has launched onto the Indian stage, from a

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regional genre to a national and international one. It has become the go-​to standard for playlists at almost any kind of celebration such as a wedding reception, party, and other joyous occasions. Themes include family, country, and current social issues. The traditional percussion instruments accompanying bhangra include the dhol drum, a large double-​headed drum played with sticks and/​or a smaller dholak drum, and the tūmbī or ek-​tara a high-​pitched single-​stringed instrument, a sarangī, a bowed, multi-​stringed instrument with resonating strings that sounds like the human voice, a daf, or framed hand drum, a chimta, long metal tongs with tambourine-​type cymbals attached, and a harmonium. A highly energetic music, bhangra is often accompanied by enthusiastic vocal interjections such as “balle, balle” to increase the intensity and excitement. Newer bhangra music incorporates the full range of popular instruments as well –​ guitar, drum set, saxophone, mandolin, and so forth. The dhol drum rhythm is the most distinctive and identifiable musical characteristic of bhangra. Known as the chaal rhythm, it is played on both the higher-​pitched and the lower-​pitched sides of the drum. The higher-​pitched side rhythm is as follows:

Figure 1.2a  Higher-​pitched chaal rhythm

This rhythm is overlaid atop of another rhythm, played on the lower-​timbred side of the dhol:

Figure 1.2b  Lower-​pitched and higher pitched rhythms together chaal rhythm

The first bhangra stand-​alone pop hit single was “Bhabiye ni Bhabiye” (“Hey, Sister-​ in-​Law”) by Alaap (a name that refers to the unmetered introduction to a classical piece), a group from Southall, England who made it big in India and the UK in the 1980s. The song describes a younger brother asking his bhabi, or older brother’s wife, to help him find a bride. The accompaniment features dholak and harmonium as well as guitar. The chaal rhythm is clearly audible, especially in the interlude sections. Since then, bhangra has woven its way into India’s music and film scene. A filmi-​bhangra song is almost mandatory in a Bollywood film score –​with one bhangra dance scene present in each film. These peppy, energetic dance songs then infiltrated wedding receptions in all regions of India, which made them indispensable on the wedding reception dance floor. What was once local music, is now national, with the Punjabi sound infiltrating international markets through Britain’s Asian Dub, and mixtures of reggae, hip-​hop, rap, disco, rock, and other world pop influences (see Chapter 3 for further discussion).

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  19 Punjabi Women’s Songs

Punjabi women’s songs are known as gidda, which are energetic dances and songs which can be accompanied with clapping. Gidda lyrics are associated with village domestic life  –​fetching water and grinding wheat, as well as political issues and arguments, and ritual functions such as weddings, which illustrate married life. The Punjabi song “Phullan di bahār” (“Springtime Flowers”) is a gidda, usually sung by the friends of a bride who are teasing her about what her life will be like after she is married (e.g. waiting for her husband). This song was featured in the 2009 film Aloo Chaat (Fried Potato), but is a known Punjabi wedding song. Like many folk songs, there are teasings and allusions to the sensual and sexual sides of human nature. If folk songs were dull and uninterested in the more salacious details of people’s lives, they would hardly have survived this long. phullan dī bahar raati aayo na (chorus) shava raati aayo na Springtime flowers, last night you didn’t come (chorus) last night you didn’t come phull gaye kumlaah gori man payo na (chorus) shava raati aayo na The flowers have wilted so they aren’t appealing to the fair lady (chorus) last night you didn’t come aase paawaan paase paawaan vich vich paawaan kaliaan Put them this side, put them that side, put them in the middle je mera ranjan na mileya mein doondh phiran sab galiyaan If my husband doesn’t come I’ll look for him in every lane ik mera ranjan aaya shava dil dā chanaan aaya shava My husband has come, oh light of my heart, come dil dī masti aayi shava khid hasdi aayi shava Oh mischief of my heart, come, oh giddiness of the heart, come charka channan daa, ne o karee kisay lahaar The spinning wheel of my lover was built by a carpenter Latha lohay de, latha koonkar deenda Leg of steel, it makes a noise when it moves Koonkar lagee kalajay The noise reminds her of her lover when she uses it Ik mera dil pya tarkay, douja kangan sharkay First, my heart beats faster, and then my bangles make noise aase paawaan paase paawaan vich vich paawaan resham Put them this side, put them that side, in the middle I put silk je mera ranjan na mileya mein doondh phiran sab tation If my husband doesn’t come I’ll look for him in every station (“Pullan dī bahaar,” “Springtime Flowers”)12 As in the “Phullan di bahār” song, the traditional role of women in India is defined by her relationship to men, particularly her husband. The term suhaag in Hindi refers

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to “the auspicious time in a woman’s life while her husband is alive.” Likewise, it is an insult to a woman to call her a widow. Hindi film songs and other pop songs make frequent reference to a woman’s looks, particularly her dress and decorative elements such as ornaments (bangles, bindi, toe rings, ankle bracelets, kohl [lampblack] or kajal [eyeliner], etc.), which originated as part of a Hindu ritual of solah shringar (16 bridal adornments) that prepare her for marriage. Discussion of a women’s beauty and the donning of these adornments, saturate lyrics from classical to popular. Women’s songs at the folk level express voices not heard in other forms. Many religious and life cycle rituals are gender segregated, and women have their own repertoire expressing women’s experiences and viewpoints on the household, domestic and family concerns, female deities, rites of passage, and domestic relations. For example, there is considerable tension between mothers-​in-​law (sas) and daughters-​in-​law (bahu), the subject of many songs, film plots, and television soap operas. As Srivastava notes, instead of focusing on domestic rituals, some songs deal with “women’s common wishes, their unexpressed emotions, unfulfilled desires, hopes, and disappointments” (1991, 270). Women’s songs, referred to the general Hindi term as git, contain lyrics that express women’s perspective on life in India, but it is not necessarily a perspective that subverts the existing hierarchy. For example, women’s birth songs do not celebrate the birth of a female child, since that is not auspicious for the mother or the family, while the birth of a male will raise her status in the household considerably. Separate women’s repertoires exist for worship, and to mark weddings, births, worship, funerals, and other occasions. Women often express their real-​life issues and concerns through the voices of female deities or heroines, such as when Sita (Lord Rama’s wife in the Ramayana) explores fears of barrenness, future marriage, abandonment, and concerns of child birth. Weddings are complex affairs, and women’s git accompanies critical functions. When the bride leaves the household to join in her husband’s family, for example, women’s songs are sung in either folk or classical raga-​s that are so sorrowful that they induce intense emotions. During the monsoon in the season of sravan (also known as barsati meaning rainy time), women and girls sing sravan or barsati songs celebrating the imagery and emotions of the rainy season. Such songs also articulate the loneliness that a woman feels when her husband is away (vipralambha). The monsoon season is perceived as more romantic than other seasons because of the humid and dense atmosphere, which lends to a sultry aesthetic. It is also replete with connotations of rebirth considering the renewed vegetation and flora that accompany it. Kirin Narayan’s exploration of Kangra women’s folk songs illustrates nuances from a female perspective featuring the month of chaitra, which is the first month in the Hindu calendar and coincides with March in the Roman calendar. Kangra is currently a province in Himachal Pradesh, but was part of British Punjab under the Raj. The songs contain a large number of Punjabi words. The song illustrates the sentiments of a married woman who “tries to persuade her departing husband to stay with her as the valley explodes with the colors and fragrances of spring blossoms”: chaitre de mahīne jī koī phūl je phūle ajī phūlaṛe rabhānt goriye toṛīye rakhe

In the month of Chaitra flowers blossom; a variety of flowers that the Beautiful One plucks.

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  21

chākar musāphar koī piṛhe ghoṛe ghar rahendiyā de jivare kuch thoṛe thoṛe

The Employed Man, the Traveler, saddles his horse. Staying home, life ebbs away.

pakaṛi lagām goriye pās khaṛōtī ajī jhunḍe de andar goriye chham chham roī

Grabbing the reins, the Beautiful One stands nearby. Beneath a heavy veil she splashes tears.

chhoṛ de lagām be tainu rām duhāi ajī māpeyāndā dā des tainu lāj na āi

“Let go of the reins, I implore, by God! Your parents’ place does not give you honor.”

māpeyāndā des mainu baṛā pyārā ajī rāj chhoṛeyā kāj chhoṛeyā kāval jānā

“My parents’ place I dearly love. Abandon these royal duties. Abandon going to Kabul.”

kāval de do panshi āe karde pānī pānī ajī kand thā anjān goriye kadar na jāni

From Kabul, two birds arrived demanding “Water! Water!” The husband I had is missing. The Beautiful One knows no respect.

chature dī nār baiṭi hār parote ajī mūrkhe dī nār gallān suni suni rove

A clever man’s woman relaxes, stringing garlands. A stupid man’s woman listens and weeps.

chature dī nār bole main sukh pāyā ajī mūrkhe dī nār main dukh pāyā

A clever man’s woman says, “I got happiness.” A stupid man’s woman says, “I got sorrow” (Narayan 1997, 30–​31)

Another female-​specific local genre is lavani, a folk form from Maharashtra that includes dance as well. Male-​dominated folk and semi-​classical traditions are often hereditary and/​or occupation based. Examples of this include folk musicians such as the Langas and Manganiyars in Rajasthan (see Chapter  2). Occupation-​based folk forms include bhatiali, which are boat and oarsmen songs from Bengal, and fishermen and boat songs from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and other seafaring locations. Hijra Identity, Origins, and Musical Associations

In addition to the gendered binary of female/​male, India has a rather famous third gender known as the hijra. Hijra-​s exist as a casteless community of people that, in contemporary

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Figure 1.3  Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, activist and hijra Source: Timothy Herbert [CC BY-​SA 4.0 (https://​​licenses/​by-​sa/​4.0)]

Indian culture, align themselves with the globalized LGBTQI+ community. Laxmi, a renowned hijra and hijra activist in India describes the community as “the oldest ethnic transgender community in the world,” supporting the idea that there is no globalized or Western sexuality marker equivalent to, or sufficient enough to describe or label, the hijra identity.13 While some hijra-​s do identify as transsexual and intersex, there is a wide range of adjectives and labels that have been used both historically and currently to describe their complex identity. On the surface, hijra-​s are physically born as the male sex, but are more comfortable adhering to the performative aspects that construct the feminine gender. Despite their biological sex determination, their identity transcends sex and hinges on performativity, as is the case with any gender. Hijra-​s frequently describe themselves as “neither man nor woman, but [they] enjoy the femininity of the world.” Hijra-​s are socio-​politically marginalized and yet  also serve extremely important functions within the context of Hindu practice. Their socialization into Indian culture is dependent on their involvement with auspicious occasions and functions in Hindu family life. Hijra-​s are specifically known for the badhai-​s (congratulatory songs) that they perform during events such as a marriage or the birth of a male child. Paradoxically, hijra-​s also have great power over fertility. They are known to have the ability to curse and

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  23

or bless an individual’s ability to have children. This ability is simultaneously perceived as both terrifying and auspicious by society. With regard to their origins, hijra-​s have a place in both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as aligning with Shiva and worshiping the goddess Bahuchara Mata (Lal 1999, 122–​126). According to Jeff Roy, “when singing badhai songs, the hijra-​s invoke the blessings of the goddess Bahuchara Mata, a deity whose main shrine is situated in Bechraji town in Gujarat.” Mileko bakko mai re,    Jisi ki lodh lagavi re,    Gale mein aaj samao re  

 I’m yearning to meet you,  That is all I want, Through my throat [voice] you sing.

The literal translation of the final line of the stanza, “Through my throat you sing,” calls the goddess to inhabit the body of the singing hijra-​s. Incidentally, the entire song invokes some level of izzat (honor) in the form of blessings, pleas, illustrations of puja (prayer), family, personal suffering, and hope. These values are constituted vividly in the song’s gat (chorus): Meike bhavan bade dur,    The Goddess’ house is very far, Meya more assa natoru     Don’t break my hopes “In other words, by traveling ‘very far,’ hijra-​s demonstrate a type of ‘service’ which grants them social capital for them to call upon the Goddess to hear their song” (Roy 2015, 5). The hijra identity, hierarchy, and lineage are shaped, and recognized primarily by their involvement in music and dance. Historically, hijra-​s have their own socio-​familial structure based on the gharana –​a hierarchical system that classifies individuals based on musical apprenticeship and their practice of specific musical styles. They follow the model of the guru–​shishya or guru–​chela, teacher–​student. Socially, the most highly regarded hijra-​s are participants in the musical aspect of hijra life, while the lowliest regarded are sex-​workers (Roy 2015, 4–​5).

Religious Practices and Music in India India is home to every major world religion. Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism are autochthonous to India, while Islam and Sufism, Christianity, Judaism, atheism and two Zoroastrianism (including the Parsi and Irani communities) all have a place there. All religions are taught in the school curriculum, the major religions’ festivals are recognized by the central government as holidays, and many sites that are worshipped (even certain trees or rocks) are protected. Religious tolerance and inclusion is promoted and articulated in many forms, from factions of the government, in educational texts, and through the work of NGOs and other social organizations. Despite this, religious tolerance is uneven at best, and India continues to have a high incidence of religious restrictions and social hostilities (Pew Research Center, 2017).

Hinduism Hinduism is the oldest major religion in the world, with origins developing after the Vedic period (1500–​500 bce), sometime between 500 bce and 300 ce. Hinduism is a

24  •  Understanding Indian Music

major influence on life in India, and with 1.5 billion followers, is the third largest religion in the world following Christianity and Islam. More henotheistic than polytheistic, Hinduism views deities as part of a unitary divine essence. Emphasis is on one’s “way of life,” which rests on the pillars of dharma (ethics), artha (prosperity/​work) kama (desire/​ passion) and moksha (liberation). Samsara, the cycle of rebirths (reincarnation), is widely associated with Hinduism. The idea of reincarnation, however, should be understood in balance with the ideas of moksha (liberation), which ends the cycle, and yoga-​s, which are paths that one takes to ending the cycle. Hinduism is the majority religion in India, with just under 80% of the country identifying as Hindu, a slight decrease in the past 10 years. With India’s population passing 1.3 billion, this means that roughly 1 billion people are Hindus. The Hindu worldview, therefore, dominates much of life in India, from property rights to voting blocs. Hinduism isn’t uniformly practiced, however, and syncretic versions blending paganism, superstition, and Sanskrit rituals are found all over the country in lower castes and tribal regions. This borrowing of Hindu rituals is known as sanskritization, and indicates an intentional attempt to connect to Hindu rites thereby lending legitimacy to the rituals of non-​Hindu religious variants. The most important Hindu concept related to the arts (dance, music, painting) is the notion of cycles –​as artistic forms return and repeat, each time with nuanced variations that bring in new perspectives, guiding them deeper into the emotion (rasa-​s) being  felt. Vedic Chant –​An Oral Heritage The Vedas, dating back to roughly 1500 bce, are some of the oldest sacred texts in existence. Recitation of the Vedas is believed to be the oldest surviving continuous oral tradition.14 As with anything that cannot truly be substantiated, there is a serious debate concerning the written and oral aspects of the Vedic transmission, with scholars such as Witzel claiming they were passed on entirely orally (Witzel 2003), while others, such as Goody, believe they were passed on using both written and oral forms (Goody 1987, 68–​71). From pre-​Christian times, the Vedic scriptures were learned and transmitted orally using extensive mnemonic devices, including the use of musical pitches, to ensure excellent textual fidelity. THE VEDIC TRANSMISSION PROCESS The formulaic approach to Vedic chant is a window into a precision of thought with a full understanding of the weakness of memory of the human mind. The elaborate method of memorization, based on mnemonics, was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2003, and considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence. The four Vedas (rg, yajur, atharva, and sama) were divided between guru-​s and taught from teacher to disciple using strict pronunciation and memorization. The guru–​shishya parampara (succession of teachers and disciples) method allowed the entire text of the Vedas to be passed down for millennia in a purity of transmission. Memorization requires the formulas sung to designated pitches as well hand movements (mudra-​s). As an example, let’s look at a popular mantra from the Rg Veda known as the Gayatri Mantra, in praise of the Sun God (a pre-​Hindu deity) (Rg Veda 3.62.10). A translation of this is found below:

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  25

• •

oṁ bhūḥ bhuvaḥ suvaḥ | tat sa̍vi̱tuḥ vare̎ṇyaṁ bhargo̍ devasya dhīmahi | dhiyo̱ yo na̍ḥ pracodayā̎t (“We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds”) (Gayatri Mantra)15

Figure 1.4  Gayatri Mantra

The first part, “oṁ bhūḥ bhuvaḥ suvaḥ,” is actually a mantra that precedes the Gayatri verse, which indicates that the verse should be preceded by “om.” Following are two examples of the mnemonic formulas –​one simple and one more complex: • •

Jaṭā formula: 1 2 2 1 1 2/​2 3 3 2 2 3/​3 4 4 3 3 4/​4 5 5 4 4 5/​…….. Ghana formula; 1 2 2 1 1 2 3 3 2 1 1 2 3/​2 3 3 2 2 3 4 4 3 2 2 3 4/​3 4 4 3 3 4 5 5 4 3 3 4 5/​……..

Jaṭā for the Gayatri Mantra (first five words only): tat sa̍vi̱tus sa̍vi̱tus tat tat sa̍vi̱tus/​sa̍vi̱tur vare̎ṇya̱ṁ vare̎ṇya̱ṁ vare̎ṇyaguṁ sa̍vi̱tur sa̍vi̱tur vare̎ṇyaṁ Jaṭā, English translation (first five words only), 1 2 2 1 1 2/​, etc. • • • •

We meditate meditate we we meditate/​ meditate on on meditate on on meditate/​ on the the on on the/​ the glory glory the the glory/​…

Ghana for the Gayatri Mantra, 1 2 2 1 1 2 3 3 2 1 1 2 3/​, etc.: • • •

tat sa̍vi̱tus sa̍vi̱tus tat tat sa̍vi̱tur vare̎ṇya̱ṁ vare̎ṇyaguṁ sa̍vi̱tus tat tat sa̍vi̱tur vare̎ṇyaṁ | sa̍vi̱tur vare̎ṇya̱ṁ vare̎ṇyaguṁ sa̍vi̱tus sa̍vi̱tur vare̎ṇyaṁ bhargo̱ bhargo̱ vare̎ṇyaguṁ sa̍vi̱tus sa̍vi̱tur vare̎ṇya̱ṁ bharga̍ḥ | vare̎ṇya̱ṁ bhargo̱ bhargo̱ vare̎ṇya̱ṁ vare̎ṇya̱ṁ bhargo̍ de̱vasya̍ de̱vasya̱ bhargo̱ vare̎ṇya̱ṁ vare̎ṇya̱ṁ bhargo̍ de̱vasya̍ |

Ghana, English translation: • • •

We meditate meditate we we meditate on on meditate we we meditate on /​ meditate on on meditate meditate on the the on meditate meditate on the /​ on the the on on the glory glory the on on the glory/​

26  •  Understanding Indian Music

From the Vedas, we move to India’s extensive oral traditions. These oral traditions still thrive in many regions of India through songs, poems, stories, lyrics, literature and even film, of all genres and in all languages. Examples of these include the devotional more classically oriented poems, such as Tulsidas’s (1543–​1623) 16th-​century work based on the Ramayana, called the Ramcharitmanas. They also include large folk epics made even richer by the Arabic ghazal, originating in the 7th century. Ghazal, a poetic form brought to India and used in Sufi music such as qawwali, became highly popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries (see Amir Khusrau, page 12). While it may be easy to see a direct connection between the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics and classical Sanskrit texts (referred to as the “Great Traditions”), a clear connection between written and oral forms is not so easy to make. As Ramanujan writes, in all cultures, and especially in the Indian, the oral and the written are deeply intermeshed…we find that in the history of a text, oral and written means may alternate…with differences…due to the way the text…gets reworked through oral cycles that surround the written word. (Ramanujan 1992, 8) Texts refer to poetry, couplets, stories, and other folklore, recounting the lives and feats of local gods as well as the pan-​Indic ones (Vishnu, Durga, Shiva, and Kali).

India’s Devotional Soundscape: Bhajan, Kirtan, Qawwali, Sufi Songs Devotional songs of all types saturate the Indian soundscape. Hindu devotional songs or “hymns” that narrate, praise, describe, or otherwise express ideas about spirituality and/​or the deities are known as bhajan and kirtan. Bhajan and kirtan are similar in many ways, but kirtan (meaning “celebrate” or “glorify”) usually includes a religious instructor or guide and contains speech as well as song (Thompson 2000, 632). Kirtan usually requires audience participation in the form of a call and response (antiphonal) as well. Such repertoire can be heard in India at all times of day and night but particularly in the mornings and evenings. In the early mornings, bhajan-​s emerge from temple loudspeakers, local shrines, and individual households, as people remember the gods. In the evenings, people sing songs to the gods –​whether as part of a religious organization or temple, or as a community group in an open courtyard. In a small town in Rajasthan, for example, a group of people who call themselves the “dark moon bhajan group” sing songs only during the waning half of the lunar cycle. Bhajan-​s can be nationally known, like the devotional bhajan-​s best loved by Mahatma Gandhi (“Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye”) (“One who is a Devotee of Vishnu Knows the Pain of Others”) or (“Raghupati Raghav Rajaram,”) (“O Rama, Uplifter of the Fallen”). Bhajan-​s can also reflect the region in which they originate. Some bhajan-​s are quite old and based on devotional poetry known as bhakti, while others are contemporary. Some contemporary bhajan-​s, however, may be written on older topics, such as those illustrating the exploits of Radha–​Krishna or any of the major epics. Medieval India saw the development of bhakti or devotional movement, which celebrates a devotees’ love for a personal god. Krishna was one of the main objects of this devotional love –​particularly Krishna’s love for Radha, a married cowherdess, and a group of other gopi-​s or cowherdesses. One of the most important early works to capture

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  27

this image is the poem Gita Govinda (“Song of Govinda [another name for Krishna]”) written in the 12th century by Jayadeva. In this work, Jayadeva explores this Radha–​ Krishna relationship in nuanced complexity, first speaking in Radha’s voice, and then in Krishna’s to describe their passion, tension, romance, and lovemaking. After Radha learns of Krishna’s affairs with the other gopi-​s, she becomes upset and rejects him. In a later section, he attempts to convince her to forgive him and love him again. My love, you have no cause to curse me so I ask, as this fierce passion burns in my mind, To drink the nectar of your lotus mouth Place as an ornament on my head, To slake the love god’s venom, your soft feet And douse the tawny-​embered fire of love That makes relentlessly the pain in me. (Gita Govinda (10:8) in Holcombe 2017,  44–​45) From the third movement, entitled “Bewildered Krishna,” we see the relationship from his perspective: She was startled when she found me Circled in the crowd of women. My guilt, and my cowardice, Kept me from stopping her. Krishna, Krishna, she is gone –​angered by your careless way of love. What will she do, what will she say –​ We’ve been parted so long! Riches, friends, my life, my forest home Are worthless now without her. Krishna, Krishna, she is gone –​angered by your careless way of love. (Miller and Jayadeva 1971, 187–​196). Krishna is also the subject of a large body of poetry from some of the most celebrated devotees in India, namely Kabir and Mirabai, whose songs and poetry are of great significance to this movement. Some of the most important poems celebrating devotion and love for Krishna come from Mirabai. Mirabai’s Bhajan One of the great inspirations of the bhakti movement was Mirabai (1498–​1546), a 16th-​century poet–​saint who devoted her life to Krishna. She loved him so much, she believed herself to be his wife, and consequently protested against getting married to a mortal during her lifetime. Eventually, and against her will, she married a prince of the Sisodia clan of Rajputs in Mewar, and lived in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan.16 Although accounts differ, it is believed that after her husband died in the Rajput battles against the Mughal Empire, Mirabai’s in-​laws tried to kill her by various methods. She is the only female bhakti poet, and one of the most popular bhakti poets regardless of gender. Her

28  •  Understanding Indian Music

legend is so compelling that her songs are sung to this day, and contemporary songs are composed about her. There are also a dozen Indian films with her as the subject. Although very few songs are authenticated directly to her authorship, the poems that exist explore the range of love’s emotions (sringara rasa) including love, longing, separation, anticipation, devotion, and a willingness to become ascetic in her intense desire to see him. I’m not staying here, not staying where the land’s grown strange without    you my dear But coming home, coming to where your place is Take me, guard me with your guardian mercy I’ll take up your yogic garb,    Your prayer beads, earrings    Begging bowl-​skull    Tattered yogic cloth I’ll take them all, And search through the world as a yogi does with you    yogi and yogini, side by side. Or: After making me fall for you so hard, where are you going? Until the day I see you, no response My life, like a fish washed on shore, flails in agony For your sake, I’ll make myself a yogini Hurl myself to death, on the saw of Kashi Mira’s Lord is the clever Mountain Lifter,    And I am his,       Slave to his lotus feet. (Hawley 2002, 304–​305)

Figure 1.5  Mirabai playing kartal and ek-​tara Source: Treesa Rose [CC BY-​SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  29

“Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan” is one of Mirabai’s most famous bhajan-​s. The version sung by Anuradha Paudwal17 begins with her unmetered improvisation on “ah” exploring the melody (raga) before the regular beat from the tabla drum joins in. Other instruments are also typical bhajan accompaniments, including sitar, flute, and finger cymbals, with a tanpura drone in the background. The text explores the spiritual result of meditation on the name of God: I have found, yes, I have found the wealth of the gem, chanting the Holy Name. My true spiritual master gave me a priceless thing. With his grace, I accepted it. (“Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan,” extract)18 The Politics of Mirabai

As with a great deal of music, singing songs can be a political act. I  have witnessed firsthand as individuals disrupted bhajan singing among lower castes, going as far as to lower a television set two stories out of a window and blast it as untouchables were singing in a temple a few feet away. The devotional-​poetess Mirabai represents a threat to the social and religious order in her life and through her songs. She was not a traditional wife in that she rejected her marriage and followed the norms of neither wifehood nor widowhood –​a transgressive act against the prevailing social order. Some see her life and work as embracing independence for women, while others refuse to name their daughters Mira because of the political gravity attached to the name. Mirabai’s guru was of lower caste, yet she crossed class and caste boundaries by accepting him and through her association with him. Lower castes, poor, and non-​ruling castes in Rajasthan appreciate that she embraced a life of poverty, refusing her husband’s princely riches, and withstanding the punishments of death attempts by her in-​laws after her husband’s death. Her use of her bhajan-​s as a way to protest the authority of caste, tradition and her political environment is also highly admired (Mukta 1997). Kabir Bhajan Likewise, poet–​saint Kabir’s legacy is also rooted in the political. Kabir inspired the devotional bhakti movement in the 15th century through a worldview that questioned both Hinduism and Islam and was steeped in moral and philosophical contemplation: If God be within the mosque, then to whom does this world belong? If Ram be within the image which you find upon your pilgrimage, then who is there to know what happens without? Hari is in the East, Allah is in the West. Look within your heart, for there you will find both Karim and Ram; All the men and women of the world are His living forms. Kabir is the child of Allah and of Ram: He is my Guru, He is my Pir. (Kabir, III.2, translated by Rabindranath Tagore) A few of Kabir’s doha-s (couplets) are below: I set out to find flawed men and couldn’t find any When I peered inside myself though, I found none more flawed than me

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Everything unfolds at its own pace One may endlessly water a plant, but fruit is only borne in due season Scholars were never made from reading countless books But the one who understands love is greater than any learned man This Hindi bhajan, made popular by light-​classical singing legend Girija Devi, also shows the overlap of styles in that the sthayi (first section of a song, similar to a refrain) and antara (second section of a song, similar to a verse) are clearly audible, as is the improvisation. The lyrics of “Ek Din Murli” are about Krishna, who is known as a flautist (murli means flute) and is also called “the dark one” (shyam). The YouTube version is also an example of a jugalbundi, in which two musicians perform together19 –​here, Girija Devi sings, while Pandit20 Ronu Majumdar plays the flute. The main line of the bhajan (sthayi), “ek din murali shyam bajai,” is repeated over and over, and is the “hook” or “face” of the song (mukhra). The lyrics talk of the magical effect of Krishna’s flute as the evening descends after a long day: Ek din murali shyam bajai…     One day Krishna played his flute Jamuna neer pravah thakit bhayo   Jamuna’s water is tired Chale nahi ju chalaai        so tired, that it’s difficult to move on Ek din murali shyam bajai…     One day Krishna played his flute Gaayin ke mukh daatan trun rahi  The cows are chewing their cud Bhacchiyan chher pibaai      while the calves are drinking milk Ek din murali shyam bajai…  

 One day Krishna played his flute

Islam Muslims comprise India’s largest ethnoreligious minority group, at just over 14% of the population –​a slight increase over the past ten years. Islam was first introduced by sea along the coasts of southern Malabar and northwest of Gujarat by Arab traders in the 8th century. It was later reintroduced in the 12th century by Turkic invasion in the north. Islam made a more significant staying power through several invasions from the 10th century onward. These invasions resultantly led to the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate, and eventually the Mughal Empire. India is the third largest Muslim country in the world by population, with over 138 million Muslims. While the majority are Sunnis, Sufism is highly popular on the subcontinent. Sufism

Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, is the major manifestation of Islam in India. Similar to Islam, its adaptation on the subcontinent occurred in waves over many centuries. Sufi mystics play a significant role in Indian culture. Islamic poetry and symbolism have always been prominently featured in Indian music from classical to contemporary

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  31

realms, especially poetry concerning emotions related to love. It was with the arrival of the Sunni-​based Chisti order with its emphasis on love and tolerance that Sufism became a significant religious movement and rooted itself in India. Sufi songs, ghazal and qawwali in particular, express passionate devotion and love for Allah as well as the Sufi saints such as Chisti (referred to as Nizamuddin Auliya), and Mughal-​era poet and saint Sayed Abdullah Shah Qadri (referred to as Baba Bulleh Shah) of Punjab. Qawwali

Sufi music is based on devotional poetry written by Sufi poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Bulleh Shah, Amir Khusrau, and Khwaja Ghulam Farid. Sufi music also incorporates a great deal of influence from North Indian (Hindustani) classical music. The Sufi musical genre known as qawwali, for example, contains a high degree of musical sophistication and classical overtones. It is written in a raga, has a tala, uses a great deal of improvisation with sargam, and follows the basic Indian classical music form including a slow introduction followed by increasing intensity and speed. Instrumentation of the harmonium, tabla, and so forth, are all based on influences from the classical tradition of Hindustani music. Qawwali relies on poetic parallels comparing earthly love to that of divine love. It also often uses images of intoxication (becoming drunk by a glance). The qawwali “Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai” (“Slowly, Slowly, You Intoxicate Me”), was written by Sufi poet Anwar Farrukhabadi (1928–​2011), and sung by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a

Figure 1.6  Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Source: Jarmo Latva-​Aijo

32  •  Understanding Indian Music

qawwali singer from Pakistan who is considered one of the greatest voices of all time. Ironically, alcohol is haram (forbidden) in Islam, even though it permeates the poetry. In the lyrics, the poet plays with the listener as he weaves in and out, exploring the earthly–​ divine relationship. This mild intoxication is because of your eyes That has made me a drunkard In awe of every glance of the cup-​bearer, I drank I drank playing with the waves of joy O all-​merciful! Please forgive all my wrongs I drank confounded by the extreme desire Purple clouds are overcast And the sound of music is all around Whose tresses are open in the rains? The winds are perfumed Let us dance in the garden courtyard The clouds brought music with them In addition to the image of the monsoon, the subject of the poem seems to be a beautiful woman, a bartender if you will (the term saqi or “wine-​provider” is often used in Urdu poetry to refer to a female barkeep) as the source, not of alcoholic inebriation, but of ecstasy. The romance of the open air and perfume in the wind along with dancing allude to a complete sense of abandonment or mast. Mast in Persian poetry alludes to being slightly inebriated and completely overcome and sated, such as being in a state of spiritual euphoria brought on by the love of God. Sufi music is not only a significant devotional genre among Sufi-​s and Hindus, but it is also an indispensable and significant part of current-​day rock and pop music. Lyrical imagery, musical content, and spiritual references became a staple in rock songs inside and outside Bollywood, with Sufi artists such as Kailash Kher erasing the boundaries between the two genres (see Chapter 6).

Notes 1 No one I spoke with in the show knew the origin of the Malachi character. His name could refer to the bible prophet, or to the urban dictionary which is slang for a handsome, special, and cute boy with brown eyes. 2 The city was renamed in Bombay. In this book, names used interchangeably depending on context. 3 Data from 2011 have not yet been released as of this printing. 4 Additionally, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, and Tamil are all ranked in the top 20 largest number of speakers in the world. 5 Complicating matters is the fact that Hindus and Muslims will visit the same local shrines if the deity is known to help both Hindus and Muslims. Baba Ramdev in Rajasthan is one example.

India in Musical and Cultural Perspective  •  33 6 The Hindu calendar, however, posits six seasons, labeled as summer, monsoon, autumn, late autumn, winter, and spring. 7 See video at https://​​watch?v=qZhk5T-​Z8PA 8 See:  https://​​wiki/​List_​of_​countries_​ranked_​by_​ethnic_​and_​cultural_​diversity_​ level 9 Indo-​Aryan migration or invasion theories are highly contentious among both Indian and Western scholars, some of whom argue against Indian people originating outside India. Currently, genetic studies are being applied to the controversy in addition to linguistic and archaeological information. For further reading see Bryant (2001). 10 One master North Indian sitarist I knew prided himself on his deep song repertoire, and would ask his students to challenge him with a word so that he could show off his memory by singing songs containing that word. 11 Received in a personal communication from Bhungar Khan, a Manginyar Folk singer from Rajasthan, January 11, 2019. 12 Sung by Neelam Sharma at https://​​watch?v=IoHZE1IZN_​0 13 Watch at https://​​watch?v=Z4tuHJey1i4 (accessed March 13, 2018). 14 In 2003 UNESCO proclaimed the Vedic Oral Tradition as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage. 15 See http://​​uploads/​5/​5/​4/​9/​5549439/​sandhya.pdf 16 I also lived in Chittorgarh for many years and would hear stories of Mirabai and visit her temple in the Fort. 17 View “Payo Ji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo” sung by Anuradha Paudwal at https://​ com/​watch?v=6gGLhQ-​aw3A 18 See https://​​2013/​02/​i-​have-​found-​guru-​mirabai.html 19 Listen at https://​​watch?v=ELCNytX-​CxI 20 Pandit is a title of respect for a religious scholar or musician.

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36  •  Understanding Indian Music Thompson, Gordon. 2000 “Gujarat.” In South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent (Garland Encyclopedia of World Music), edited by A. Arnold, pp. 624–​638. Times of India. 2010. “Indiaspeak:  English is our Second Language.” March 14:  https://​timesofindia.​india/​Indiaspeak-​English-​is-​our-​2nd-​language/​articleshow/​5680962.cms Wade, Bonnie. 1984. Khyal: Creativity within North Indian Classical Traditions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wade, Bonnie. 2001. Music in India: The Classical Traditions. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers. Weidman, Amanda. 2008. Singing the Classical, Voicing the Modern: The Postcolonial Politics of Music in South India. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Widdess, Richard. 1994. “Festivals of Dhrupad in Northern India: New Contexts for an Ancient Art.” British Journal of Ethnomusicology 3, 89–​109. Witzel, M. 2003. “Vedas and Upanishads.” In The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, edited by G. Flood, pp. 68–​71. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.



Concept and Style in Indian Music

The second chapter provides an overview of specific concepts and styles of Indian music. Hindustani and Carnatic traditions are infused with meaning, which is explored through their structural elements such as raga, tala, swar pitch, rasa (emotion), song forms (sthayi, antara) and instrumental forms (e.g. alap, gat, varnam, kriti). After an explanation of these concepts, the chapter includes a discussion of performance practices, aesthetic expectations, instrumentation, traditional instruction, lineage and the role of nature and hierarchy. The chapter also introduces India’s significant religious (bhajan, qawwali), semi-​classical (ghazal, thumri), and regional folk musics, with a focus on their flexibility and ability to fuse, adapt, and integrate. For example, the Langa and Manganiyar style from Rajasthan represents an amalgamation of traditions, while the auto-​tuned voices of Bhojpuri pop music in Bihar comment on the clash of contemporary and traditional behaviors and lifestyles, and folk music of Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala represent the consumption and insertion of globalization in their sound, performance practice, and style. Examples and discussions lead to a discovery of how these genres functioned and continue to function as popular music. In this chapter we’ll look at the elements that are most identifiable in Indian music, and see their context within classical and folk traditions. While some of the techniques described here may seem quite removed and esoteric, they are actually at the core of popular, rock, jazz, hip-​hop and rap music –​featuring an artistic engagement in rhythmic wordplay to elaborate on the emotional impact of the lyrics and to display performative virtuosity by capturing sounds that work with and against the beat.


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Introduction to Indian Musical Aesthetics India’s classical aesthetics and concepts permeate and inform all of India’s music from ancient chant to the popular. Ancient Hindu thought regarding sound concerns its transcendent and boundless nature. Shabda Brahman or Nada Brahman (transcendental sound or sound vibration) is part of the Hindu philosophy that posits an eternal essence that manifests in sound, and is a fundamental cornerstone of Indian performing arts. This philosophy is so embedded in Indian culture that it is often invoked by both Muslim and Hindu classical musicians before they perform. The Sanskrit text Natyasastra (The Science of Drama, dated 200 bce–​200 ce)1 is considered one of the earliest treatises in the world on the arts and the most authoritative in India, and is often treated as the “Fifth Veda”. The text contains aspects of aesthetics such as theatrical movements, facial expression, dance gestures (mudra), costuming, and stagecraft, which are explained in detail, as are the core concepts of rasa and bhava. Rasa, meaning essence or juice, is the theory of eliciting emotion from the viewer. The Natyasastra lists nine such emotions (rasa-​s), described as love (erotic and romantic), comedy, pathos, fury, heroism, terror, disgust, awe, and serenity. Of these nine, the emotions of disgust and terror are rarely depicted in musical performances. The idea of rasa is that emotion cannot be described so much as suggested or evoked by the performers. The importance of rasa then, explores the notion that it is not only the art form in and of itself that is significant, but that art is, at a semiotic level, a communicative act. Rasa permeates the mind, so to speak, through gesture, sound, and visuals on the part of the performer. However, it also suggests that the audience member also has a responsibility to be in the proper mood or frame of mind to receive the performance and decipher the emotion that is inferred. This audience preparedness to let the musical stimulus permeate their mind is called rasika. Only in its presence is true art made.

Indian Classical and Western Classical Indian classical music is informed by genre and form rather than chronological development. When we think of Western classical music, on the other hand, we are referring to its chronological eras such as Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic, each with its own distinct musical developments and evolution. Indian classical music, however, is defined by the genre and elements of the music. Classical genres adhere to the three core elements of raga, tala, and drone –​raga referring to the pitch structure, tala referring to the rhythmic cycle –​with the musical development occurring over a drone. Raga and tala are significantly complex ideas that have developed over centuries of musical performance, and both have roots in the Vedas (Samaveda specifically, one of the four sacred Hindu texts), which defined the rules for chanting sacred texts. The two concepts were then redefined further in the Natyasastra and Dattilam, musical treatises dating to the 1st to 4th centuries, giving them long roots in the Indian musical tradition. However, raga and tala are applicable to almost all forms of Indian music, from classical genres to popular. This is due their historically entrenched impact on perceptions of how sound should be organized. Indeed, the idea of raga and tala is as fundamental to Indian music as chord progressions are to Western music –​it is difficult to conceive of a musical composition without them. These two musical pillars give Indian music their unique emphasis on melody and rhythm, rather than

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  39

harmony. Indian music is monophonic, in that a single melodic line (raga) is played over a drone to a rhythmic accompaniment (drum). Western music is mostly homophonic, in that a dominant melody line is accompanied by supporting voices (or instruments) creating harmony. Comparing Western and Indian classical musics on a macro-​level, we can see differences in the treatment of tension and release. Music is the organization of sounds to build and release tension, relying on the listener’s prior experience with those particular forms of expectation and resolution to guide them through. In Western tonal music, tensions and releases are based on chord progressions. Starting with a I chord, tension is built by leading away from the I  chord, usually to a V or IV chord, often using secondary chords such as III or VI, and then inevitably leading back to I, where tension is released. Melodies work similarly, with a resolution back to the tonic, or first pitch of the scale. This progression can happen in a very short period of a few measures in popular music giving a quicker cycle of tension and release. In classical music it occurs over a longer period, where this build-​up and tension take place during an entire movement of a work.

Indian Musical Concepts of North and South Musical concepts that permeate all Indian music have their roots in North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic) classical traditions, although the terminology may differ. South and North India are two distinct entities. South India is Dravidian in origin, with the region consisting of four main states: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh and the new state of Telangana, while North India is comprised of all other states (further designations are made in terms of Eastern, Western, and Northeastern India, but they are all generally considered part of North India). Southern languages are Dravidian in origin (Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu are spoken in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh, respectively), and Indo-​Aryan ones (Hindi, Urdu, Braj Bhasha, etc.) are spoken in the north. Among these differing locales, you can find distinct cuisines, architecture, and many more cultural distinctions that are particular to each major area. The arts and music of the South differ as well. Regional music styles are denoted by names, Carnatic for the south (a label based on the state of Karnataka) and Hindustani for North India (based on the name for the Hindi language). Kathak dance is from the north, while Bharatanatyam from is from Tamil Nadu, Kathakali is from Kerala, and Kuchipudi is from Andhra Pradesh. Below are some of the most common musical terms used, along with their musical applications, which continue to be relevant in the popular music of the 21st century. Raga literally means to color or dye. A performer’s goal is to color the mind in order to elicit rasa, or emotion, on the part of the listener. Each raga has a different emotion or rasa associated with it, but also contains musical elements (a set of pitches) similar to what we understand a scale to have. Unlike a scale, however, there are extra or non-​ musical elements associated with each raga. Raga-​s are associated with a time of day (early, mid, late morning, afternoon, evening), and sometimes a season or religious occasion, region, or even deity. There are hundreds of raga-​s, but only a few dozen major ones, and thousands of compositions exist in different raga-​s from which the performer will select one or two upon which to improvise.

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Tala refers to the time cycle in Indian music. Tala, which means lock, measures musical meter, and indicates the number of beats in a cycle, typically between 3 and 128, with 8 (kahairva), 10 (jhaptal), 12 (ektaal), and 16 (teentala) beats being most common. Each tala has sub-​units within it, allowing a great deal of rhythmic play when performed in collaboration with a vocalist or instrumentalist. A major source of tension relies on a drone, or a sustained pitch, chord, or pitches underlying the music. The Indian drone in folk and other forms can be represented by a single pitch or tone cluster of strummed chords, while the classical traditions utilize a repeated pattern of four pitches, three of them Sa, known as the tonic or do, and the other pitch is usually Pa (sol), but can be Ma (fa) or Ni (ti). Tension is built when notes of the melody blend with or clash against these drone pitches. A dissonance occurs when the frequencies of notes played together are not consonant with one another. The most dissonant notes are Sa and Ni, while notes whose frequencies are more consonant include Ga and Dha. Sa and Pa are the most consonant pitches. Instead of tension functioning at the level of chord progressions that move away from and towards the tonic chord as is the case in Western music, it is the individual notes of the Indian melody that create a range of dissonances and consonances when played against the drone notes. In relation to the philosophical notion of Nada Brahman, the drone can also be perceived as a reflection of aum –​the eternal, unending song. On a micro-​level, Western and Indian classical are based on pitch sets (labeled scales or raga-​s) that are identical, incorporating the 12 half-​steps of the chromatic scale. Indian music does incorporate some quarter-​tones giving it 22 pitches or sruti in all. For most raga-​s, however, the basic 12 notes of the scale can be understood in relation to Western music. The syllables Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni (the first four syllables comprise the term sargam) are equivalent in pitch association to solfege (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti). Extra musical meaning is associated with these pitches in India, as each pitch name is associated with a different timbre based on sounds of different animals (e.g. peacock, goat, or heron). Singers and instrumentalists learn music through this system, which they apply to exercises and songs alike. Similar to solfege used in Western ear training, sargam is used for sight-​singing practice, and for learning raga-​s and other melodic patterns upon which to improvise in practice. Unlike solfege, however, sargam syllables themselves can be used in vocal performances for improvisation during the concert. While Western vocalists may use solfege syllables for practice, singers will almost never use them in concert. In Indian music, the voice is primary, and instrumentalists learn compositions as songs by singing them first and then transferring them to their instrument. Vocal music is considered closer to the divine, and therefore more significant. Likewise, instruments that sound like the human voice, such as the sarangī, vīna or sitar, are considered more divine.

Figure 2.1  Tanpura drone on “pa”

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  41

Figure 2.2  Sargam notation and key

Tempo, how fast or slow a piece is progressing, is known as laya. Tempo informs the character of music and how the listener should react to music, from classical to Sufi qawwali to contemporary. Folk and dance songs are at a brisk tempo, and more introspective songs or song introductions (alap) are quite slow in order to reveal the raga, allow the mood to permeate the listener. Several genres increase in tempo and intensity over time, particularly classical and qawwali. In some forms of classical music, the lyrics take precedence over the music. This occurs in ballads that tells a story, a religious chant for purposes of ritual or blessing, or a song that expresses deep emotion through poetry, while in others, the music is much more important than the lyrics. Khyal and dhrupad fall under the latter, where short compositions are used only for their few words, mainly to improvise from. The rendering of the raga and the improvisation take priority over the lyrics. The potential audience at a khyal performance will be more aware of the raga that the singer will be performing rather of than any bandish. Bandish lyrics are merely vehicles through which to explore the raga. Themes in khyal are spiritual/​mythological, and rasa oriented (concerning Krishna and Shiva), and often employing women’s voices. ALAP The alap is a slow, unmetered opening section of a piece similar to a “prelude.” Alap literally means dialog, and refers to the dialog between a musician and the raga, in which the singer improvises on the raga’s pitches, exploring important notes and phrases, usually against the tanpura drone background. Typically, no beat or drums are played during the introduction, so the vocalist or instrumentalist is able to freely explore the emotions. In vocal classical music, this section lasts just a few minutes, but in instrumental music, the alap can last for 20 minutes or longer. Improvisation and ornamentation play a central role in Indian music –​both classical and popular. Developed in the dhrupad style and liberated in khyal centuries ago, improvisation and ornamentation provide a creative and complex texture unique to the Indian sound. Improvisation affects the form of all of these genres, which are entirely accommodating in nature –​somewhat akin to jazz. If the audience is responsive, reacting with

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words of encouragement such as “kya baat hai” or “wah!” the musicians will respond in kind by continuing their performance. One raga in a performance can last over an hour. A qawwali can last up to 30 minutes or longer, and folk songs can be extended with improvisation and additional couplets. Film songs do not include improvisation, given their time limitations, but contemporary music (jazz, alternative, etc.), especially music in concert, does. Types of improvisation are: •• •• •• •• •• ••

Bol-​alap –​ Bol means “word” in Hindi. Bol-​alap, therefore, is an alap in which some words from the text are incorporated. Sargam –​Indian solfege uses the syllables Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa. Sargam is often used during an alap and for improvisation during a performance. Ākār –​ Ākār means to vocalize on a long “a” (ah) sound. This can happen during an alap or at any other point of improvisation during a performance. Taan –​Improvisation on a fast passage of notes or runs (think of 8th or 16th notes) that use ascending and descending patterns as well as other melodic patterns. Usually sung on “ah” (aakaar). Bol-​Taan –​Taan uses words of the text rather than “ah” (ākār). Saval-​Javab means “question and answer,” usually between a melodic instrument and the tabla, in which one creates a question, and the other one answers as closely as possible.

Ornaments (alankar) are musical embellishments.2 Western classical music contains ornaments such as trills, grace notes, mordants, etc. Indian classical music contains many of these ornaments plus a few other types that give music its characteristic sound. Ornamentation such as the meend, for example, is a sliding between pitches. This is the distinctive sound that is at the core of how we identify Indian music. Rather than singing one note to the next, sounding only two distinct pitches, meend is a glide that sounds all of the intervening pitches. Ornaments are found in classical music and popular film music, as well as other contemporary genres although much less prominently. Common ornaments include: •• •• ••

Grace notes (kan-​swar) –​a quick sounding of the note directly above the main pitch. Gamak –​a fast shaking of two notes giving a vibrating effect; the ornamentation of a note. Khatka –​ similar to a Western “turn” in which the notes above and below the main pitch are sounded.

RAGA-​S IN HINDI FILM MUSIC Use of these elements extends to popular music, especially film music. Raga and tala are present in many songs to help enhance the mood. Introduction, verse and refrain are directly influenced by alap, sthayi, and antara, while the interludes between the verse and refrain are places for some improvisation and experimentation (see Chapter 4). Below is a list of songs that use the raga-​s mentioned above.

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  43

Note that the strict rules of each raga are not followed, but the essence of the raga still remains. Here are examples of raga-​s in Hindi film songs: • • • • • •

“Noor Un Allah,” Raga Jog, Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities, A. R. Rahman “Dil Se Re,” Raga Jog/​Raga Nata, Dil Se (1997) A. R. Rahman “Taal se Taal mila,” Raga Bhairav, Taal, A. R. Rahman “Phir se Ud Chala,” Raga Hamsadhwani, Rockstar (2011), A. R. Rahman “Karava Maadu,” Raga Anandabhairavi, Magalir Mattum, Ilaiyaraaja “Kaana Inbam,” Raga Bageshri, Sabaash Meena, T. G. Lingappa (has taans, studio sound)

South Indian film songs also follow the South Indian classical kriti structure, with one or more charanam and the addition or subtraction of the anupallavi. The film song “Karava Maadu” for example, contains the pallavi plus three charanam (e.g. verses). It is written as an Anandabhairavi raga, which is an ancient raga with roots in the medieval era, and a “child” raga of the 20th melakarta Natabhairavi. It is associated with evening: Ascending scale (aroha):   Sa Ga Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Pa Ṡa Descending scale (avaroha):  Ṡa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

An Exploration of Carnatic Raga-​s and Form South Indian Carnatic music was able to develop relatively uniformly as the south remained relatively untouched by Arabic and Persian invaders. Carnatic music contains a classification system of 72 melakarta organizing some nat 300 raga-​s dating back to the 17th century, as opposed to Hindustani more recent classification system. Carnatic music also has a relatively standardized performance consisting of pallavi, anupallavi, and caranam (see below, this chapter), and uses instruments such as the violin, vīna, and flute for melody, and mridangam (a double-​sided cylindrical drum made from jackfruit wood and goatskin) and ghatam (a clay pot) for percussion. Hamsadhwani and Anandabhairavi are South Indian or Carnatic raga-​s. Hamsadhwani (aka Hansadhwani or Hamsadhvani) means the sound or cry of a swan. It is a “child” raga (janya) of the parent raga Kalyani, which is the 65th fundamental raga in the South Indian melakarta system. This system has 72 parent scales in all, as opposed to the 10 thaat-​s of North Indian music (see below, this chapter). Kalyani, incidentally, contains all seven pitches, and corresponds with the Greek Lydian mode. Hamsadhwani, however, does not contain all seven notes, but only five of them, classifying it as pentatonic in Western terms. The raga is believed to be composed by South Indian poet and composer Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775–​1835). The time of day is the second quarter of the night (9 pm–​midnight): Ascending scale (aroha):          Sa Re Ga Pa Ni Ṡa Descending scale (avaroha):        Sa Ni Pa Ga Re Sa Important notes (vadi and samvadi):   Sa Pa Resting notes (nyas):         Ga Pa Ni Ṡa Identifying phrase (pakad. ):        Re Ga Re Ni Pa Sa Re Sa

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This following is composed by Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775–​1835), considered one of the Trinity of three most prestigious South Indian composers from Tamil Nadu along with Tyagaraja (1767–​1847) and Syama Sastri (1762–​1827). This composition, like most of his others, is written in Sanskrit rather than Tamil, is in praise of Lord Ganesh, and is written in Hamsadhwani. The song follows the kriti, or standard form for Carnatic music. The pallavi is similar to a refrain, and appears throughout the song. The anupallavi (“anu” meaning small) is like a second verse, but is optional, and the charanam or “foot” is the verse. Of interest in this song is the last line of the poem, which invokes the name of the raga and the idea that Ganesh revels in its sound. Pallavi    Vaataapi Ganapathim bhajeham vaaranaasyam vara pradam sri      I worship Lord Ganesh, elephant-​headed bestower of boons Anupallavi  Bhootaadi samsevitha charanam       Shiva’s attendants worship at his feet        Bhoota bhautika prapancha bharanam        He pervades the world of the five elements        Veetharaaginam vinutu yoginam vishwakaaranam vigna vaaranam        He transcends desire and is worshipped by yogis, he is the cause of creation and removes all obstacles Charanam  P  ura kumbha sambhava munivara prapoojitam trikona madhyagatam       Worshipped by the sage Agastya, who was born from a water pitcher; he resides in the sacred triangle        Murari pramukhadyupasitam molaadhara kshetrasthitam paraadi chatvaar vagatmakan        He is praised by Lord Vishnu and other Gods, he is Lord of the primary chakra        Pranava svaropa vakratundam nirantaram hitila chandragandam nijavamakara vidhrutekshy dandam        His form is of the four kinds of sound, his twisted trunk is in the shape of “aum,” he wears a crescent on his head and holds a sugar cane in his left hand        Karambujapasha bejaporram kalushavidooram bhootaakaaram haraadi guruguha toshita bimbam        In his lotus-​like hands he holds a noose and pomegranate; he is without blemish and is of gigantic form. He is revered by Shiva Guruguha        Hamsadhvani bhooshita herambham        He is Lord Heramba, reveling in the sound of Hamsadhwani

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  45

An Exploration of Hindustani (North Indian) Raga, Tala, and Form Although Indian classical music is ancient, much of its performance practice and style dates back only to the 19th century. The Hindustan thaat system of raga classification, for example, was only recently developed by musicologist V. N. Bhatkhande. In North India, three main sources lead to less unified musical development; the influence of outside cultures such as Arabic and Persian; the gharana system of separate houses or schools of musical traditions; and feudal patronage. The result has been the development of several major genres such as dhrupad (15th-​century temple and court music), qawwali (a 14th-​century devotional genre of Islam and Persian music), khyal (18th-​century court music), thumri, and ghazal (a poetic genre devoted to love songs, dating from the 19th century onward). The raga-​s shown below are utilized in both classical and popular songs, and it is worth exploring their sounds and structure a little further to illustrate their melodic and emotional impact on the listener. All raga-​s were organized into a classification system of ten thaat-​s by Indian musicologist V. N. Bhatkhande (see below, this chapter). A thaat can have any number of raga-​ s under its purview, similar to a parent raga with its child raga-​s (janya). For the sake of exploration and illustration, we will examine the two popular raga-​s Jog and Bhairav which are given below. RAGA BHAIRAV Raga Bhairav is one of the ten thaat-​s or parent raga-​s, and is a morning raga, meaning it is believed to be most effective when performed in the early hours of the day. It is one of the only raga-​s that can be sung in any season, and is typically associated with Lord Shiva. Its mood is peaceful and serene: it is a serious raga that denotes devotion.

Ascending scale (aroha):       Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Ṡa Descending scale (avaroha):      Ṡa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa Sthayi       Prabhu data saban ke       Lord, provider for everyone       Tu rat le man ghadi pal chhin       Chant his name every moment Antara       Jo tu chahe dudh poot an dhan lakshmi iman dhyan       If you desire a child, wealth, health, knowledge       Le bake rab ko naam le       Chant the name of God       Rang data saban ke       Lord, provider for everyone (Lyrics of a song (bandish) in Raga Bhairav)

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Raga Jog Raga Jog is a popular raga in all genres of music from classical, semi-​classical, folk but is particularly popular in film music. Time of day: early morning. It uses pitches from the Kafi thaat, but is sometimes classified as part of the Bhairav thaat. Jog doesn’t utilize all seven of the pitches, however, but uses five when it ascends and seven when descending. Ascending scale (aroha):     Sa Ga (natural) Ma Pa Ni Ṡa Descending scale (avaroha):     Ṡa Ni Pa Ma Ga (natural) Ma Ga Sa Sthayi       Sajan more ghar aye (My lover, come home)       More man sukh pave (The moment you come, I feel peace) Antara       Mangala gao, chauk purao (Sing for the goodness of all)       Prem piya ham pave (Give me love, my lover) (Lyrics of a song, or bandish, in Raga Jog) The tala, as mentioned earlier, is a musical cycle that begins and ends on beat 1. While this may seem obvious, it does not occur in Western music. In a 16-​beat phrase, for example (four measures of four beats), the singer stops singing lyrics before beat 16, and holds the note for a few beats and takes a breath. This gives the singer a chance to have a break before starting the next line on the next downbeat (the 1). In Indian music, the singer will end directly on beat 1, known as the sam, or the first beat of the cycle. The singer then takes a quick break of a few beats and jumps back in around beat 4 or 5. Sometimes the singer improvises or breaks for a whole cycle of 16 beats before joining back in. The cycle is continuous, and the singer or instrumentalist simply weaves the composition and their improvisation throughout the endless cycle of rhythm. The rhythm instrument (tabla or pakhawaj) playing the tala cycle and the singer singing the raga rarely sing the basic form of what is written. Both improvise almost from the beginning, the drummer adding their own rhythmic compositions and improvisations, and the singer or instrumentalist adding theirs. All musicians are keenly aware of the tala cycle even if they do not explicitly perform it. At certain points in a performance, it seems like the tala is an imagined entity in the minds of the performers, which both seem to be ignoring and exploring on their own until they join together on the downbeat (sam), the most important beat of the cycle. It is only when they come together on beat 1 that the audience experiences a true congruence and release of the tension that has built up over the course of the preceding cycles. THE POLITICS OF DIVISION Political iterations calling on the cultural distinction and separation of southern identity arose during the Dravidian Nationalist Movement of the 1930s–​1950s,

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  47

which posited that the four high Dravidian population states in the south (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh) were of different racial and cultural origins from the north. South India was vying for its own historical legacy, one that was distinct from the North. This distinction is also apparent in the music, arts, and literature of the south. Recent calls for southern unity continue in recent times as well. For example, veteran South Indian actor Kamal Hassan called for South India to unite under their Dravidian identity in order for the south to have a stronger voice in the government (Kumar 2018).

Dhrupad Dhrupad is an ancient musical form with roots dating back to the Natyashastra (200 bc–​200 ad) but one that became popular in 15th-​century courts. It is considered the most serious of the classical forms. It is a solo genre, and almost exclusively the domain of male musicians. Dhrupad utilizes raga and tala (7, 10, 12 beats) and consists of four composed stanzas. These stanzas include the sthayi, the first section with notes in the lower tetrachord; the Antara, the second section, using notes in the upper tetrachord; the Sancari, the third section in which musical development occurs; and the Abhoga, the concluding section, which returns to the sthayi. It is performed within an alap-​ gat structure. Alap is a slow prelude or “dialog” section performed without a beat or rhythmic cycle (no tala), in which the raga is explored with great concentration and nuance. The gat section contains the text and melody of the composition plus improvisation. It also contains the rhythmic cycle. The alap section itself is divided into three sections: the alap (again), the jor (joining when a steady beat is introduced); and jhala meaning shower, accompanied by an increased rhythmic component. The end of the gat also contains the fast jhala section as the piece reaches its climax (see Figure 2.3). Dhrupad themes include romance among deities (particularly Krishna and Radha in among the bhakti devotees) praise songs to royalty, and music itself. Dhrupad is modal, with a single melodic line sung by a solo singer or a small group of singers, accompanied by a pakhawaj (or mridangam, a two-​headed barrel drum), two tanpura-s, and a stringed instrument known as rudra vina or surbahar, both deep bass stringed instruments. Considered rather slow moving and contemplative, dhrupad’s alap (a slow-​moving improvisatory section) is sung on syllables a re ne na, té te re ne na, ri re re ne na, te ne toom ne. The singing also includes gamak (ornamentation). Each dhrupad rendering can last over one hour.3 After dhrupad, a more simplified alap-​gat structure emerges. This has become the basic structure used in most forms of classical music and is relatively consistent in its execution. The alap is a free-​form, entirely improvised section (adhering to the rules of the raga of course), which builds tension by exploring the raga’s nuances without any pressure from the rhythmic cycle tala. The musician builds up the raga slowly in speed and intensity and gradually introduces rhythm into the melody line in the jor and jhala (“showering of notes”) section. The gat is the only composed music in the performance. Known as the bandish, the song is only a few lines long, and is composed in the same raga. It consists of a sthayi and antara, which are played only a few times before the musician begins to improvise on this section as well.

48  •  Understanding Indian Music Alap







Raga Tala Figure 2.3  Basic structure of Hindustani classical instrumental music

Khyal Khyal (Arabic-​Persian for “imagination”), the most popular classical genre of Indian music, is a classical Hindustani vocal form developed after dhrupad and offsets dhrupad’s masculine seriousness with a more feminine sensibility.4 The style gained popularity in Muhammad Shah’s court in the 18th century, and according to Bonnie Wade (1984), Dhrupad court musician Nyamat Khan, who played the bin, did not like being the subordinate instrumental musician for the singers, and left the court to create a more lively type of music. Khyal incorporates all of the improvisational and ornamental elements mentioned (bol-​taan, taan, etc.) in rendering a bandish (a short song composition of two to eight lines) into a full-​length performance. It is flexible in form and allows for greater improvisation than dhrupad. The khyal genre uses one (or two) singers or instrumentalists, a melody instrument such as a sarangī or violin (or more recently the harmonium), which closely follows the singer’s melody and embellishes or shadows the melodic line in a heterophonic style but does not lead the singer. It may, however, introduce improvised sections if the singer is taking a break. The main percussion accompaniment is the tabla, and there is a drone instrument, typically the tanpura. Text topics are lighter in khyal than in dhrupad, but similar in treatment in that they comprise just a few lines of text, focus on romance, deities such as Krishna as well as Allah, the seasons, and rasa (emotion). Similar to the dhrupad form, the use of improvisation is central to the style, which also contains the two-​part form of sthayi and antara that will morph into verse/​refrain in later popular music. Khyal uses fast improvisations such as taan, bol-​taan, bol-​alap, sargam and others. This is a very popular form of classical performance, and is one of the major styles sung in a classical music concert to this day. The gharana system developed out of khyal as different styles and techniques emerged (see gharana below). INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC IN PERFORMANCE (NORTH INDIAN) When attending a Western classical music concert, audiences expect to hear either vocal or instrumental music, typically executed using longer forms, and performed in a more serious manner. They also expect highly trained musicians, performing well-​practiced music that was learned from written notation etched some centuries ago, and we expect to hear all of the words of the text or at least

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  49

read them in the program notes. The audience is expected to be silent and still, only clapping at appropriate times such as at the end of a full work, and not after each movement. The same is true of an Indian classical music concert, with several exceptions. The forms in Indian classical music work for either solo voice or instrument. Whereas in Western music we have forms such as symphonies, suites, minuets, and rondos written for small chamber ensembles, solo instruments, or large symphony orchestras, while Lieder, arias and so forth are written for voice, no such separate genres exist in Indian classical music. Either a singer or any solo instrument can perform the genres of dhrupad or khyal. In both vocal and instrumental forms, none of the music was written down, and the musicians (even the instrumentalists) work from a short poetic compositions of a few lines from which they improvise the entire performance within the structure of a raga. A result is that the musical improvisation takes precedence over the text, and the non-​verbal improvisation is more important than the rendering of the composition itself. The audience is expected to respond much more vocally, with shouts of “wah!” or “kya baat hai” –​expressions that mean “great” or “wonderful!” and express their delight and wonderment. Indian classical performers are known for having a small set of raga-​s that they have studied in great depth and in which they are technically proficient. Prepare to hear one or two raga-​s rendered in the khyal genre (unless this is a dhrupad concert of course), followed by a few short devotional bhajan-​s, or light-​classical ghazal-​s, or thumri performed in a lighter raga to finish the evening. Each khyal may last up to 45 minutes. For an instrumental concert, expect the same format of the two-​part alap-​gat form, with a beatless alap, the entrance of the tala in the gat section, with extensive improvisation, a gradually increasing tempo in the jor-​jhala section, and the composition appears in the gat section. The khyal form is broken down into two different sections –​bare khyal and chote khyal, meaning big khyal and small khyal. Both are sung in succession in the concert. Bare khyal is slow in tempo, and contains very slow and deliberate improvisation that reveals the raga, whereas chote khyal is sung in a very fast tempo with improvisation that explores the virtuosity of the performer. Both bare khyal and chote khyal contain a composed song called bandish (“composition”), which is also known as ciz or “thing.” The two compositions are usually unrelated except that they are both rendered in the same raga. Each ciz/​composition is divided into two parts –​the sthayi and the antara. Compositions are only a few lines long, usually completed in a few rhythmic cycles. So if the tala is 16 beats, the sthayi would be two to three tala cycles, or 32–​48 beats. The antara may be a bit longer, or similar in length, but not much longer. The remainder of the performance is improvised entirely from these few lines of composed song. The sthayi is considered the most significant, as the first line of the sthayi, known as the mukhra or face of the song, is often repeated over and over as the singer elaborates and improvises on it. The sthayi contains lower to mid-​range pitches, and after revealing the sthayi, the singer improvises only using these lower notes, gradually building tension. The pitches occupy the lower part of the raga; the sthayi comprises its main ideas and

50  •  Understanding Indian Music




Bare Khyal

Chote Khyal

Sthayi ∗


Sthayi-Antara ∗

Raga Tala ∗Improvisation Figure 2.4  Khyal vocal form

contour and is returned to again and again by the singer as the singer unfolds more and more elaborate improvisations. The antara contains pitches in the upper range of the octave, and is revealed after the sthayi, thus building tension through raising the pitch level. GHARANA The gharana system is the traditional system of music education, which developed from the khyal genre and the different interpretations of the vocal form and its renderings. Ghar means “house” in Sanskrit, and refers to the different musical styles. Guru-​s and their students would live together, learning the techniques and traditions of that particular khyal style.

Thumri Thumri is a light-​classical vocal form, with text saturated in the bhakti movement celebrating a girl’s love and devotion to Krishna  –​usually Radha, his consort. Particular raga-​s used in thumri are less structured and rigid than the ancient raga-​s used in khyal, allowing the singer more flexibility. The thumri structure also relies on the alap-​gat form, and includes a sthayi and antara. Lyrics explore, in great detail and nuance, the shringara rasa and emotions of separation that occur in other genres. Thumri is considered far more detailed in its exploration of these emotions, however. Thumri is a more recent genre, part of the 18th-​century blend of folk and classical forms, according to du Perron (1967). It was also a genre sung by female courtesans (tawaif) and supported by the wealthy nawab-​s of the 19th and early 20th centuries, who were semi-​autonomous Muslim rulers appointed by the reigning Mughal Emperor. COURTESAN SINGERS Courtesan singers are experts in the genres of ghazal and thumri. Supported by the nobility in 19th-​century India, the courtesans learned etiquette, dance, music, and

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  51

poetry, and often composed verse as well. They performed and even taught nawab-​ s (local ruling Mughals) in performances known as mehfil –​ evenings of courtly entertainment. Known as tawaif-​s, these sophisticated and highly trained artists flourished during the end of the Mughal Empire, and far into the age of Bollywood. Their highly skilled performance and etiquette impacted ghazal, poetry, and the display of the female form in Indian cinema. The end of the courtesan culture occurred as the British gained supremacy and began labeling them as prostitutes. Even so, their legacy in Bollywood is cemented with films such as Pakeezah (1972) and Umrao Jaan (1981). Thumri Example

“Mora Saiyan Bulave,” “My Beloved Calls Me” sung by Rashid Khan, also discusses Krishna and Radha, his beloved. Sung in Raga Desh, which is associated with the romance of the monsoon season, the thumri has all of the classical components of alap, etc. Rashid is from the Gwalior gharana. As in spirituals, there is another layer of meaning as well. The water is a metaphor for an obstacle to crossing over and obtaining joy or salvation and peace. Mora saiyan bulave adhi raath ko    Nadiya bairi bhaii    Nadiya bairi bhaii Mora saiyan bulave adhti raathe ko Gahari nadiyan naav purani Kevat sune nahi baath Nadiya bairi bhaii

My beloved calls me in the middle of the night the river has become my enemy the river has become my enemy My beloved calls me in the middle of the night The river is deep, the boat is tattered The boatman refused to listen to my plea The river has become my enemy

Ghazal The ghazal is related primarily to sexual love and desire, and originated in 7th-​century Arabic poetry, but was spread into South Asia in the 12th century by Sufi mystics and Amir Khusrau (see section on Amir Khusrau, Chapter 1 and below). It is a poetic form based on rhymed couplets aa, ba, ca, da, which is typical in Urdu. The couplet’s lyrics are loosely related to each other and do not tell a cohesive narrative. It is used as the basis for qawwali, as already mentioned, but also is a light-​classical genre. INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY There are a few distinct eras in Indian music, with music identified primarily by its musical forms. Larger, accepted categories are known as Vedic, classical, light-​ Classical, folk, and popular. Vedic music includes chanting of the religious texts, the classical tradition includes dhrupad and khyal styles, light-​classical includes thumri, ghazal, and others; folk is represented by numerous sub-​genres and dialects, and popular consists of Bollywood, rock, Indi-​pop, etc.

52  •  Understanding Indian Music

Indian classical music has changed dramatically with the advent of early recordings. The slow alap-​s have gotten slower, and the fast jhala-​s have gotten faster. Dynamics, tempo, taan-s, are all exaggerated as recordings have proliferated and musicians are able to listen and respond to each other in a more rapid musical dialog. The musical aspects listed here are classical in nature, but have impacted India’s popular forms, whether from the North (Hindustani) or the South (Carnatic), vocal, or instrumental. In general, Indian music is modal –​comprised of a melodic line, rhythmic line, drone, and contains no harmony. Classical instruments include the harmonium or sarangī, tabla, bansuri, and drone instruments such as the tanpura. These, coupled with the many folk instruments are adapted in many forms of contemporary music, and have a significant impact on the compositional identity and creativity found in contemporary Indian music.

Indian Music Notation Although we don’t think of it often, our classical music genres have enormous impact on our popular music from almost every conceivable angle from the way the music is organized, listened to, to instrumentation, rhythms, phrases, timbres, and melodies. Classical music of any culture informs all of the music of that culture –​be it in specific musical characteristics, terminology, or simply because the language of classical music is usually studied by scholars and given labels that can be re-​distributed to describe other genres such as folk or popular. Indian classical music, a hybrid in and of itself as seen earlier from the Indo-​Muslim and Indo-​Persian influences, also effects other Indian genres. In addition to the chord progressions that dominate the building and release of tension (from the tonic or I chord to the V and back again), form, vocal production, texture, rhythmic drive and intensity, and so much else is in continual practice from one era to another in Western music. In an analysis of a Madonna song, Middleton had this to say: “Perhaps the most striking feature here is the pervasive arch-​shaped vocal intonations, typical of the ballad genre –​and indeed of the entire bourgeois song tradition, from at least the Renaissance period” (2003, 113). The terms we use, the genres, styles, forms, are all derived from classical music or passed down through folk forms in either written or oral form. Similarly, Indian classical, semi-​classical, and folk terminology greatly influenced popular music. Bhatkhande and Paluskar Classical music learning in India took a dramatic turn under V. N. Bhatkhande and V. D. Paluskar, who helped democratize the genre, allowing public access. How do these two men rank in the scope of modern music? Prior to their work, music could be learned only from a guru, usually in a gharana. After their tenure, classical music was much more accessible due to their life’s work.

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  53

V. N.  Bhatkhande (1860–​ 1936) was an Indian musicologist, and champion of Hindustani music who lived in the early 20th century. Bhatkhande’s work focused on saving what he deemed an endangered classical music tradition. Bhatkhande’s work helped to classify, codify, and notate thousands of songs, which were relegated to the memories of individual musicians or gharana-​s, making them available to the nation. Bhatkhande was a music advocate, and democratized music in India by creating easier access to it.

TRANSLATION OF “KAFI THAAT” Notes: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Ṡa Raga Kafi: 16 counts (beats) Most important notes: Pa Sa Altered notes: Ga Ni Ascending scale (aroha): Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Ṡa Descending scale (avaroha): Ṡa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

V. D. Paluskar (1872–​1931) was an Indian musician and iconoclast who studied musical forms all over North India. Paluskar gave the first public concert outside of a temple or court, and started a publicly accessible, independent music school outside of a gharana called the Gandharva (which also means Indian classical singing) Mahavidyalaya (“great institution of learning”) to teach Indian classical music to the masses, allowing popular access to non-​initiates. INDIAN NOTATION OF “HOTEL CALIFORNIA” The Eagles’ “Hotel California” is a perennial favorite among pop music students and amateur musicians in India. Although most musicians anywhere in the world learn this by ear, many would use lead sheets or guitarists would use tabs, which require the musician to interpret a song from minimal material. This highlights the differences in performance practice vs. notated music. This is the same issue that Indian classical musicians face when their songs are written in sargam. Only the basic outline is there, and the ornaments, improvisations, vocal style, timbre, etc. –​the things that make music “musical,” are not indicated. The following excerpt of “Hotel California” gives a glimpse of what a song looks like in this basic notated sargam form, where the singer will add their own slurs, syncopations, and embellishments.

54  •  Understanding Indian Music






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I heard the

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heaven or


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could be


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Such a






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MP --P


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DD livin’












D -



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door way

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Then she lit




--- ---

he - e - ell.







Ho -



it up





Ca -


li -



such a

DD ---D D







D Ho


D -



tel -


DD you can

P --here.

Figure 2.5  “Hotel California” in sargam form

WHEN IS MUSIC “POPULAR”? The term “Popular Music” is a slippery and highly problematic concept. Popular music has been defined in numerous ways in academic literature, using varying sets of criteria. Denisoff (1974) discusses popular music’s wide distribution and commercial appeal, noting it usually has a certain number of listeners or listeners of a certain social class, and that it privileges a group’s taste in music over the musical features themselves. In other words, the status or “coolness” of the music is important. Middleton notes that this definition of popular music is problematic in that all music is popular with at least someone (1990, 3). Adorno criticizes it for its formulaic standardization. Popular music identifies genres that we typically

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  55

understand to be mass distributed, such as pop, rock, and jazz, also including the largest Indian popular music genre of them all –​filmi music. At the very least, the term popular music suggests that a type of music is distinct from classical or folk traditions. If we look at mass dissemination as a pivotal characteristic of popular music, we need to account for religious, semi-​classical, and folk musics, which are considered to be highly popular according to the definitions given above. We can attribute this to its vast regional and even national distribution as well as significant its commercial success. Does an Indian film version of a folk song qualify as popular music? The hugely successful cassette culture in India in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, served to democratize local music, and allowed a cheap means for regional musicians to record their work and market it to a specific interested community. Even local deities have popular worship songs that are recorded using popular music recording techniques and aesthetics. Such bhajan-​s and worship songs are widely listened to by devotees, sacred musicians, temples, and speakers of that regional language. Other highly popular musics include ghazal-​s, bhajan-​s, Sufi music (such qawwali and Sufi songs), and regional language folk music, which are widely distributed and often remade as pop music, using autotuning and other common contemporary recording techniques and widely distributed via cassettes, a brief stint on VCDs (Video Compact Discs) and now streaming.

The Popularization of Folk Music This next section focuses on three regional folk musics, in various stages of popularization. This popularizing is somewhat controversial, as some feel that modernizing the genres makes them less authentic and results in a loss of cultural tradition, while others believe that the only way to keep a music alive is to allow the ability to transform, adopting new idioms and practices. Popular music in India includes a wide variety of genres: film music, rock, bhajan-​s, ghazal-​s, Sufi songs, national songs, and commonly known folk songs. This wide variety of music that is considered popular consists of songs that are considered to have lasting importance and high impact, are commercially influential, have standardized composition formulas, and are universally covered by pop and rock musicians. An example of popularized music is the national song of India, “Vande Mataram.” The song consists of lyrics from a Bengali poem by B. C. Chatterjee in the 1870s, and music by musician-​poet Rabindranath Tagore. The song was later reimagined in a contemporary context and popularized by A. R. Rahman in the 2000s. The folk forms presented here (such as the Manganiyars) are highly syncretic in orientation, borrowing from classical traditions, including raga, tala, and improvisation, as well as Sufi aesthetics. The Bhojpuri and Tamil folk songs borrow extensively from folk themes, local forms and musical idioms, but have also adopted pop music as a means of recording and distribution of music videos through various media outlets –​­television and VCDs in the old days, and YouTube today. Additionally, we will explore the popularization, and in one case the globalization, of traditional music, by examining situations in which folk musicians become pop stars. This section functions as a prelude to

56  •  Understanding Indian Music

Chapter  3, where we will further discuss the popularization of Indian music through East–​West crossovers.

The Manganiyars: New Approaches on a Rajasthani Folk Tradition Rajasthan, known as “land of kings,” is known for its ruling maharaja-​s and nobility, brightly colored clothing and turbans, deserts, spicy cuisine, camels, and tigers. The land is arid –​hot and dry, with temperatures in the hot season regularly reaching 115 degrees. The traditional daily diet features roti (flatbread made from whole wheat) rather than rice, since water is scarce and rice is not abundantly available. Drought is common in the summer months: although deep well water taps into underground springs, is filtered through rock and remains pure, polluted run-​off is a cause of death during the state’s perpetual drought. Rajasthan’s low literacy rate (52% for females, 79% for males) is one of the worst in the country. An “upside” to this, however, is a relatively vibrant oral folk tradition, which includes stories, myths, local folk legends, and a rich devotional repertoire. Songs about kings, warrior-​heroes who saved one district or another against invading armies of both Muslims and other local enemies, and the lives and exploits of hero-​deities are still commonly found. Rajasthan’s most celebrated folk music emerges from two types of musicians:  Langa-​s and Manganiyar-​s. The Langa and Manganiyar are part of a Rajasthani folk class and are Muslim hereditary musicians, Manganiyar are supported by Hindu patrons, while Langa are supported by Muslims. The Manganiyar are comfortable with both Hindu and Muslim religions and song traditions, singing to Sufi saints, Hindu goddesses and Krishna alike. They have entertained royalty –​singing before princes and kings; provided genealogies and life cycle music for their patron families, national heritage and other prestigious venues in India (Purana Qila); and recently, many groups have traveled abroad to promote the arts and culture of Rajasthan and India, sung on countless worldwide-​distributed CDs, appeared in award-​winning international films (such as Latcho Drom, 1993), and showcased at numerous folk expositions and performances all over India and the world including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and a multiple-​ year-​long world tour entitled “The Manganiyar Seduction” (see Figure  2.6). But despite their cultural importance, worldwide fame, and popularity as regional folk artists, the Manganiyars are of very low social standing. The name “Manganiyar” itself comes from the Hindi “to beg.” I worked with these musicians in the Jodhpur Fort during my tenure as director of a study-​abroad program, and found that the musicians were not allowed to ride in the elevator to the top level of the fort where they were giving lessons to students –​instead they were made to walk up carrying their instruments by hand to the top of the fort, a 1,500-​meter climb. Manganiyar music is labeled as a folk tradition, and contains the raw musical characteristics such as an earthy vocal quality and the use of folk drumming, but the music also has much in common with the Indian classical tradition, as Jairazbhoy notes, but also, as discussed by Ayyagari, with Sindhi sur-​s from across the Indo-​ Pakistan border (2012, 3). Manuel, in his work on genre, might classify this music in an intermediate sphere between folk and classical, identifying a shared set of traditions (Manuel 2015) As Jairazbhoy (1977, 53)  outlines, the older generation of patrons appreciated the music sounding more classical similar to the khyal style, with

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  57

Figure 2.6  “The Manganiyar Seduction” by Roysten Abel at the 2011 Melbourne Festival Source: Aussieartsworker [CC BY-​SA 4.0 (https://​​licenses/​by-​sa/​4.0)]

the melody in a raga, use of a tala. The opening consists of doha or couplets sung in an unmetered style that displays the singer’s vocal prowess and technical excellence. Improvisation utilizes ākār (singing on “aaah”), alap (alapana in South Indian music), bol-​alap, taan (fast melodic passages using vowels), bol-taan (fast melodic passages using words) sargam, and other common classical techniques. This section establishes the raga and sets out the tone of the rest of the song. Rhythmic drumming then comes in with the beginning of the verse. Anatomy of a Manginayar Folk Song Manginayar songs typically begin with an alap, either vocal or instrumental.5 This is optional, but is usually performed. A stringed instrument such as the sarangī begins the drone, and a vocalist might sing alankar (on “ah”) before singing couplets or sher, before the actual song begins. This alap is in an unmetered format –​without a rhythm (tala) in congruence with the khyal and qawwali styles. In lieu of a full alap, a brief vocalization may occur, without lyrics or instrumental, but with only a few phrases to establish the raga. Naghma, a term for instrumental introduction, is also used in qawwali, where the pitch is established with a kamanche (a bowed instrument originating in Persia) or other instrument performing a rhythmic drone. The tala beat cycle then enters with the dholak drum, and the song begins in earnest with the sthayi (refrain) and antara (verse), plus interludes in which most improvisation happens (taan, bol-taan, etc.).

58  •  Understanding Indian Music

As mentioned above, folk songs, including qawwali, have no exact fixed form, but are flexible in their performance and execution, and more akin to a Grateful Dead or prog rock concert in terms of audience engagement. If the audience is appreciative, understands the music, and gives positive feedback to the musicians, a song might extend to 20–​25 minutes. Couplets can be added, improvisation can be added. Otherwise, a typical Manganiyar folk song lasts between five and ten minutes. Modernizing aspects also have had an impact on Manganiyar performance practice, as Ayyagari notes in a study on Manganiyars in the recording studio and their revised performances. Manganiyar popularization began in the recording studio and also through efforts such as Rajasthani Roots, conceived by Aditya Bhasin in 2004 –​a collective of folk musicians who created a unique fusion style that would be accepted in and out of India (Ayyagari 2013, 266). As Ayyagari quotes Bhasin “by introducing instruments which made the music and tone warmer such as the bass guitar and other melodic instruments such as the bamboo flute, guitar and saxophone, the outcome was an easily palatable sound to people all around the world across all age groups” (266). In their world tour (2006–​2013), the Manganiyars worked with Roysten Abel, a theatrical director and playwright who worked with folk performers to create the “Manganiyar Seduction” a tour de force of lighting, sound, and other theatrical elements that enhanced the performance. Musicians were separated into boxes for their performance (see Figure 2.6), and were gradually introduced to the audience, building musical and theatrical tension. Manganiyars have highly practiced kinesics in their performance, which are very energetic and well received by audiences worldwide. Likewise, they are highly tolerant and syncretic in their outlook and identity. Their hereditary goal, for over 500 years, has been to please patrons, so this flexibility has informed their music as well. Director Roysten Abel had this to say about the singers: They have the Muslim saints and they worship Allah. And then they also have their…Hindu goddesses. And they sing to both. Like, there would not be any difference if they were to sing a Sufi Islam mystic song or if they were to sing a Hindu mystic song. It would be with the equal amount of devotion. (Roysten Abel on the Manganiyar musicians)6 A clip from “The Manganiyar Seduction” demonstrates a brief opening alap as described above, and then shows clips from their performance.7 By the end, several things are evident. You can see the hereditary aspect of their profession as male children appear in the central boxes singing the verse and refrain. The hereditary musicians learned not only from the male Manganiyars who came before them, but also from their mothers, who are excellent singers in their own right –​but their musician sons would never admit to this.8 Second, you can hear that Manganiyar music is a solo genre in the multiple individual improvisations occurring towards the end of the clip. Each singer has their own style and taan-​s, thus creating a heterophony of sounds –​everyone singing the same melody, but in different variations. As is evidenced by above, hereditary musicians such as the Manganiyars do not have a static repertoire, and are willing to change over time. Over the course of hundreds of years it has changed considerably to encompass Sufi songs, Bollywood songs, and a range of Rajasthani folk songs. Folk musicians, however, occasionally have a tense relationship

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  59

with the Bollywood film industry. Bollywood often takes folk songs for use in their films (often without credit), which leads many even in India to believe that the folk artists themselves are copying the film music, rather than the other way around. The fact that the repertoire is so ingrained in the local culture and history does not translate outside Rajasthan, so people assume that Bollywood is the initial composer of the song. This is the case with “Nimbura, Nimbura” (“Small Lemon”), which appeared almost entirely intact in the film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and “Ghoomar” (“Pirouette”), one of the most famous folk songs of Rajasthan, also sung by girls, was recently featured in the film Padmaavat (2018), albeit in an altered form. Songs such as “Ghoomar” and “Panihari” (see Chapter 1) have made their way into the Manganiyar repertoire, both presenting a female perspective. “Ghoomar” tells of a young girl’s desire as to which household and caste she wants to marry into.9

Bhojpuri Pop Music Bhojpuri is a linguistic designation for people mostly from Western Bihar, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand. Bhojpuri is spoken by a large number of people within India and in the diaspora, and as many as 150 million worldwide. Recently, large migration into large cities like Delhi have created multiple communities of Bhojpuri speakers, mostly from Bihar. Working in lower-​class employment, Bihari-​s are street sellers, rickshaw-​ wallahs, and laborers. As first-​generation city dwellers, they still have strong ties with their village communities, a high remittance rate in funds sent back home, and they retain their linguistic and cultural traditions –​particularly the language and music. Bhojpuri folk songs are rich in lyrics. Women’s folk songs comprise a huge part of the repertoire, along with songs for religious rituals including the traditional Hindu festivals of Holi, Diwali, local rituals (such as chhath puja, a popular ritual in Bihar that gives thanksgiving to the Sun and his wife), family concerns, devotional songs to gods and goddesses, as well as all of the parts of the wedding such as songs about leaving the natal home and joining the husband’s family, birth, naming, and so many others. Men’s songs also pertain to religious festivals such as Holi, devotional songs to Krishna, Rama and Sita, and other matters like cultural change, women, and leaving the family for extended periods to work elsewhere. Folk songs are known for their performance during particular seasons and their associated melodies. For example, chaiti songs are sung in the month of Chaitra –​the first month of the Hindu year, which is usually March/​April, and is the month of Holi; Phag (pronounced Fog) songs are sung in the month of Phalguna (February/​March); Purvi songs are entertainment songs (Purbi, or Purvi, means east, and although there is a classical Raga Purvi, it is not related to the Bhojpuri rendering). According to Henry, Purvi is known in the Bhojpuri-​speaking regions, and is of sringar rasa (love, or erotic emotion), often using the virah idea of love in separation (1988, 209). Lyrics are highly flexible, however, expand to a number of different topics, and are sung from the male and female perspectives. Contemporary lyrics are written by two main lyricists, Chandan Tiwari and M. Mishra. One song, “Devera Tudi Killi” (“The Dever Will Break the Door Latch”), sung by Kalpana Patowari, for example, concerns love in separation as her husband lives away from home. However, it also touches on the subject of contemporary rape as she sings of her dever (husband’s younger brother) knocking on her door at night and her fear that one night he will break the lock.10 Another lyric by Chandan Tiwari

60  •  Understanding Indian Music

addresses the life of a woman before and after marriage, and how much things have changed for her. The songs are sung in a typical Purvi melody, which is discussed below. Although folk songs have their own scales which are often unrelated to classical raga-​s, they have common melodic patterns by which they are identified. The typical Purvi melodic outline, for example, the song “Pur je ho Gailu Machine” contains several very typical patterns  –​including a ubiquitous descending melodic line highly common in Bhojpuri songs, along with typical pakad, or movement. Here, the descending line has three melodic patterns that are typical of Purvi the first starts on Ṡa and descends to Pa (Ṡa, Ni, Re dot, Ṡa, Ni, Dha, Pa) resting on Pa, and the second starts on Dha descending to Sa (Dha, Pa, Ni, Dha, Pa, Ma, Ga, Re, Sa) while the third pattern works the three pitches of Sa, Re, and Ga into a final ending (Sa, Ga, Re, Sa, Re, Sa). A return to phrase two and three extend the song. This phrase can start above the Sa, or dip down and pick up the Dha below it. It then concludes again with the cadential Sa, Ga, Re, Sa ending. The characteristic pattern in this last descent is the jump from Pa to Ga, skipping Ma. Closure on Sa, Ga, Re, Sa, Re, Sa, Sa is highly characteristic as well: Ṡa   Ṡa Ni Ṙe Ṡa Ni Dha Pa Ṡa   Ṡa Ni Ṙe Ṡa Ni Dha Pa Dha  Dha Pa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Dha  Dha Pa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Sa   Ga Re Sa Re Sa Sa Sa   Ga Re Sa Re Sa Sa Dha  Dha Pa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Sa   Ga Re Sa Re Sa Sa Dha  Dha Pa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Sa   Ga Re Sa Re Sa Sa Another common phrase in Purvi songs is to sing the same melodic pattern but beginning on Ma: Ma Ga Pa Ma Ga Re Sa Yet another characteristic includes exactly parallel phrases, creating a sequence of melodic lines. Each starts on a pitch, does a “turn” that reaches to the note below and then to the note above, then descends down an exact fourth. This “turn figure” at the beginning of each phrase and the descending melodic contour are common, repetitive, yet effective, offering a plaintive and melancholy sound to the songs, reaching away from the Sa using a IV chord (played by the harmonium) and then returning to the cadence, which grounds the song in the sincerity of its iteration of the tonic.

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  61

Sa Ni Re Sa

Ga Sa Ga Re

Ni Dha Pa Sa

Ni Re Sa Ni

Dha Pa Dha Pa

Ni Dha Pa Ma

Sa Re Sa Sa Dha Pa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Sa Ga Re Sa Re Sa Sa

Figure 2.7  Melody of Bhojpuri Purvi song

Although this is a folk melody, the characteristic phrases are similar to the idea of raga in that many songs in Bhojpuri use these exact same phrases, from the melodic contour down to the turn. There are characteristic held notes (nya​s) as well, which are the Ṡa, Dha, Sa, Ma, Sa, and Pa. The characteristic movement of Purvi includes that “turn” with an ascending skip up and then a diatonic movement down. The starting notes of each line are either Ṡa Dha, or Ma, in that order. The final ending reinforces the Sa with a movement towards Re and back to Sa. The order of the five phrases is always the same, beginning on the following five pitches Ṡa Dha Sa Ma Sa As mentioned above, Bhojpuri songs have a wide range of themes, including ritual, festival, and other oral narrative folk forms, as well as highly sexualized songs, which demonstrates a part of Bhojpuri-​speaking culture for both men and women. For men who have headed to the large cities in India to work such as Delhi, or have gone abroad to Dubai and the Middle East, it is mostly the raunchy songs that have followed them. In an analysis, Vishal Rawlley traces the artwork of Bhojpuri cassette/​VCD covers, in terms of the dress of dancers in suggestive, sexual attire. These women range from village girls to city girls. As the man headed to work in a new city sees this artwork, he remembers his girlfriend or wife back home. Fantasies abound of the “emancipated urban woman,” suggesting that she is a “wily seductress,” with whom the “male protagonist is supposed to be simultaneously shocked and spellbound” (Rawlley n.d.) In the song “Hath me leke Pepsi Cola” the most popular Bhojpuri singer, Manoj Tiwari, accompanied by a group of men, is staring at a group of women and singing about them.11 The song focuses on one woman in particular, wearing bright red lipstick, with the refrain of the song pointing out the fact that she is drinking soda from a bottle –​ a metaphor for female independence.12 In the highly traditional Bhojpuri-​speaking region, however, the song is a critique of that independence, belittling and diminishing it, “look at her, she’s consuming a commercially made soda attempting to be trendy.” The soda symbolizes the urban lifestyle, which is still relatively (culturally) inaccessible in

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many of the rural regions, where women are expected to stay indoors. The group of men singling out one women to sing to is also symbolic of “eve-​teasing” –​a term for public sexual harassment and assault, which is a significant problem throughout South Asia, and has the impact of limiting girls’ mobility to attend work or school, provoking feelings of shame and suicidal acts. As elsewhere, folk music explores and expresses issues of immediate concern. In the song “Devera Tudi Killi” (“My Dever Will Break the Latch”), the issue of rape in the household is brought up. The girl is asking for her husband to come home, using the usual “it’s monsoon time, please come back,” but adds a threat of household sexual assault when she states: “the dever (husband’s younger brother) is knocking at my door, and I don’t know what to do.” A number of rapes occur within family homes, and this song makes explicit what is often implicit.

Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu in South India, is home to its capital and megacity Chennai, and is one of the most literate and highly economically developed states in India. Like other states in India, Tamil Nadu has a thriving folk music life as well with songs for monsoon festivals. In Tamil Nadu, popular Tamil-​language songs celebrate contemporary life with the inclusion of technology. In weddings all over India, photography plays a significant role in the ceremony and reception, such that the event is mainly a simulacrum of a wedding, staged only for digestion afterwards. The cell or mobile phone, which is ubiquitous in India, has replaced any idea of a landline, and the “selfie” is the modus operandi for capturing social interactions as it is elsewhere. The song “Let’s Take a Selfie, Pulla” (“Let’s Take a Selfie, Girl”), written by film composer Anirudh Ravichander for the 2014 Tamil film Kaththi (The Knife), is advertised as one of the must-​have songs at one’s wedding. It represents the merger of mobile phone popularity, social media, and computer technology as the lyrics include reference to terabytes, Instagram, FB, and Photoshop. There is a play on the word “byte” and “bite” and the inclusion of a great deal of romantic and sexual innuendo: Let’s take a selfie pulla Let’s take a selfie girl Tera tera tera byte ah Kaadhal Irukku Love is present like a terabyte in me Neeyum bittu bittah bite panna yerum kirukky If you bite little by little also, my craziness rises Insta Gramithila vaadi vaazhalaam C’mon girl, let’s live in Instagram Naama vaazhum minishathellam suttu thallalam Let’s shoot every minute we live in Naanum meeyum serum bothu thaaru maaru then When you and I join, it’s epic

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  63

Andha Facebookil pichikidum like share dhaan So the likes and shares in FB increases tremendously Photoshop pannamalae filter onnum podamalae Even without using Photoshop or any filters Un mugatha paakum bothu nengam alludhu When I look at your face, my heart flies Dappanguthu paatum illa dandankku beat um illa Even without a folk song or a peppy beat Unna paakum bothu rendu kaalum thulludhi When I look at you, both my legs do a dance Kuchi ice illa alu-​vavum illa There is no candy or halwa Un per soon naakellam thithikkudhu But when I say your name, my tongue tastes sweetness13 India is only the second country in the world in terms of numbers of mobile phones (with China being the first), but leads the world in accessing the internet through the mobile. It is not surprising, then, that “the Selfie” as a song concept has made its way into several regions in India –​a version of the Selfie song, by Gurshabad, can also be found in Punjabi.

Notes 1 Its authorship is usually attributed to Bharata Muni. 2 For audio examples of embellishments go to http://​raag-​​Embellishment.html 3 See more at​~rfrey/​116DhrupadMusic.htm 4 See Lalita du Perron (2002) for a more extensive discussion on gendering of musical genre. 5 Classical music is the presiding paradigm in India, with folk musicians applying classical music terminology to their songs, vocal quality, form, ornamentation, and so forth. 6 See​artist-​roster/​themanganiyarseduction/​ 7 Listen at https://​​watch?v=YvKsrqCwyGQ&list=RDYvKsrqCwyGQ&start_​ radio=1&t=307 8 Personal interview with Chirag Jain, artistic manager for the Bhungar Khan Manganiyars, July 11, 2018. 9 For further reference, see​kesariya-​balam-​meaning-​original-​composition-​ and-​story-​behind/​ 10 Listen at https://​​watch?v=6LS14P575uM 11 View at https://​​watch?v=VeVO-​ngEE_​E 12 Sodas are packaged in glass bottles in India and sold from street vendors, who then take back the empties right after you drink it.

64  •  Understanding Indian Music 13 English translations of lyrics are available at https://​​2014/​10/​lets-​take-​selfie-​ pulla-​kaththi-​english.html and​blog/​best-​tamil-​bride-​groom-​entry-songs​wedding/​

Bibliography Ayyagari, Shalini. 2009. “Small Voices Sing Big Songs”:  The Politics of Emerging Institutional Spaces among Manganiyar Musicians in Rajasthan, India. University of California, Berkeley:  ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. Ayyagari, Shalini. 2012. “Spaces Betwixt and Between:  Musical Borderlands and the Manganiyar Musicians of Rajasthan.” Asian Music 43:1, 3–​33. Ayyagari, Shalini. 2013. “At Home in the Studio: The Sound of Manganiyar Music Going Popular.” In More than Bollywood:  Studies in Indian Popular Music, edited by Gregory D. Booth and Bradley Shope, pp. 256–​275. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bagchee, Sandeep. 1998. Nād: Understanding Rāga Music. Mumbai: Eeshwar. Bor, Joep. 1992. The Raga Guide: Survey of 74 Hindustani Ragas. London: Nimbus Publishing. Capwell, Charles. 2012. “The Music of India.” In Excursions in World Music (6th edn), edited by Bruno Nettl, pp. 26–​53. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Denisoff, R. Serge. 1974. “Toward a Dynamic Definition of Popular Music.” Music and Man 1:2, 139–148 Du Perron, Lalita. 2002. “ ‘Thumrı’: A Discussion of the Female Voice of Hindustani Music.” Modern Asian Studies 36:1, 173–​193. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Henry, E. O. 1988. Chant the Names of God: Musical Culture in Bhojpuri-​Speaking India. San Diego State University Press. Jairazbhoy, Nazir. 1977. “Music in Western Rajasthan:  Stability and Change.” Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council. 9, 50–​66. Jairazbhoy, Nazir. 1995. The Rags of North Indian Music:  Their Structure and Evolution. New  Delhi: Popular Prakashan. Kippen, James. 2005. The Tabla of Lucknow: The Cultural Analysis of a Musical Tradition. New Delhi: Manohar Books. Kumar, Pradeep. 2018. “South India Must Unite Under Dravidian Identity, Kamal Haasan Says.” Times of India, January 18:  https://​​city/​chennai/​south-​india-​must-​unite-​ under-​dravidian-​identity-​kamal-​haasan-​says/​articleshow/​62553177.cms Manuel, Peter. 2009. “Transnational Chowtal: Bhojpuri Folk Song from North India to the Caribbean, Fiji, and Beyond.” Asian Music 40:2, 1–​32. Manuel, Peter. 2015. “The Intermediate Sphere in North Indian Music Culture: Between and Beyond ‘Folk’ and ‘Classical.” Ethnomusicology 59:1 (Winter), 82–​115. Middleton, Richard. 1990. Studying Popular Music. Open University Press. Middleton, Richard. 2003. Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Neuman. Daniel. [1980] 1990. The Life of Music in North India: The Organization of an Artistic Tradition. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. Rahaim, Matthew. 2012. Musicking Bodies:  Gesture and Voice in Hindustani Music. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Rawlley, Vishal. n.d. “Miss Use.” Tasveer Ghar:  A Digital Archive of South Asian Popular Visual Culture:​essay/​miss-​use-​bhojpuri-​album-​art.html Reck, David R. 2009. “India/​South India.” In Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples (5th edn), edited by Jeff Todd Titon, pp. 265–​298. Belmont, CA: Schirmer Cengage Learning. Rowell, Lewis. 1992. Music and Musical Thought in Ancient India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ruckert, George. 2004. Music in North India: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Shankar, Ravi. 2007. My Music, My Life. San Rafael, CA: Mandala.

Concept and Style in Indian Music  •  65 Sorrell, Neil, and Ram Narayan. 1980. Indian Music in Performance:  A Practical Introduction. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. Viswanathan, T. and Matthew Harp Allen. 2004. Music in South India: The Karṇāṭak Concert Tradition and Beyond; Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wade, Bonnie.1984. Khyal:  Creativity within North India’s Classical Music Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wade, Bonnie C. 2001. Music in India: The Classical Traditions. New Delhi: Manohar. Weidman, Amanda. 2006. Singing the Classical Voicing the Modern: The Postcolonial Politics of Music in South India. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.



Popular Music in India

This section delves into the genres of popular music in India, from its most influential and popular forms, such as jazz, to Indian film music to its independent bands and artists. As the most significant popular genre in India’s musical pantheon, film music is explored in detail with regard to its musical and social meaning, hegemony, and massive cultural and global impact. Inclusion of the controversies surrounding Indian film music are examined, as the music paradigm shifted in mid-​century from classical to popular film music. This change foreshadows a second political paradigm shift that occurs with neo-​liberalization at the end of the 20th century, which sees the rise of alternate communication platforms (e.g. social media, global TV programs, and the internet). After an overview of the musical and visual aspects of film music, I focus on its cultural reach, including Bollywood’s hybrid genres (filmi-​ghazal, filmi-​bhajan, filmi-​rock, filmi-​ pop), all of which represent significant popular genres in and of themselves. In addition, this chapter will address the critical issue of the most powerful mode of representation in Indian films:  the “picturization,” which defines, represents, and creates identities  –​ giving voices to and taking them away from caste, class, religious, and ethnic minorities, LGBTQI+ and pardesi, or foreigners. The unit then addresses the political and cross-​cultural influences between “Western” and “Indian” popular music, situating them in relation to two larger paradigms: a political one, in which the climate for Western sound was desired amidst a period of nation building and liberalization, and a social one, in which experimentation, exoticism, and globalization increased in intensity. This discussion leads into the origins of inter-​cultural fusion music, where it will explore Indo-​jazz, Indian rock, hip-​hop, and pop, as well as Western music, such as classical, jazz, and blues. An additional area that will be addressed will be the Indian diaspora, and the impact of genres like bhangra on the Asian Underground. Finally, I summarize the emergence of a new “post”-​Bollywood aesthetic, influenced by technology, large market forces, globalization, mass media-​ization, and post-​liberalization.



East–​West Cross-​cultures: Inspiration and Collaboration

This chapter is divided into three sections. The first section explores the history of jazz in India, from the early years to current collaborations, the second concerns collaborators of Indian and Western music, and the third discusses the Asian-​British  wave. In the early 20th century, jazz made its way from the US to the subcontinent, and inspired countless Indian musicians. That inspiration rippled forward, resulting in collaborations between touring artists in India and Indian music. Indian classical musicians began opening East–​West channels. Indian musicians such as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ananda Shankar, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Zakir Hussain were early examples of boundary-​crossers during a period when Indian classical fused with Western popular music. As a brief example, in the 1960s sitarist, Ananda Shankar, recorded heavy metal and rock tunes on the sitar and fusions with western musicians such as Ry Cooder. Both jazz and the East–​West collaborators were present in India’s interstitial period between 1947 national identity and liberalization, as globalization and cross-​cultural ventures and possibilities began dotting the music landscape. By the 1980s, the Indian diaspora in the UK ignited new cross-​ cultural genres. This British-​Asian music in in the UK became globally popular, and significantly impacted the independent music scene and rise of Indian pop scene at home.

Early Jazz Music in India “Jazz is the World’s First Pop”–​ (Naresh Fernandes1) 69

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This chapter will look into the early years and impact of jazz in India, the art form that was responsible for all of the fusion and pop genres yet to come. Jazz was present in India throughout most of the 20th century. It was introduced by the British Raj for entertainment, and also by maharaja-​s who went abroad and invited musicians to play in India. By the 1920s and 30s, jazz was the new sound in India, with musicians playing big band, bebop, and Dixieland throughout the country as American jazz musicians toured the world and India, performing in major cities like Bombay and Calcutta. Leon Abbey, the American “hot jazz” leader, brought his African-​American band to India in the 1930s. As with any new popular genre or style, jazz faced its supporters and critics. Popular music around the world is generally considered lower in status and class, and many in India found the new genre to be highly controversial. Bombayites, for example, perceived themselves as cosmopolitan, but were not quite ready for the energy and liveliness of this music, and debated furiously over the tempo and rhythms. As Fernandes notes in his history of jazz in Bombay, Leon Abbey made adjustments in his playing to include simpler tunes, and after the crowds adjusted remarked “First they swore at my music, then they swore by my music” (2012, 19–​20). Over the next few decades many other jazz musicians toured India from the US, beginning with, Crickett Smith, Creighton Thompson, Ken Mac, Teddy Weatherford, Roy Butler, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck. The luxurious Taj Mahal hotel in Bombay was one of the hottest venues for jazz, as were many other locations in India’s most cosmopolitan city such as Greens Hotel, Brigade Road and Park Street. Indian jazz musicians like Chic Chocolate (1916–​1967) performed in the Taj Mahal hotel. Chic (né Antonio Xavier Vaz) was of Goan ancestry, and delved into the film world as well as jazz as both a performer and a composer. Strongly inspired by Louis Armstrong, this trumpeter sought to imitate the legend in many ways, from his musical style to use of a white handkerchief to wipe his brow. Indian jazz musicians learned from the recordings of Louis Armstrong, Dixieland jazz, swing, etc. Musicians from all over the subcontinent, particularly Portuguese Goan musicians, listened to and learned the standard charts. Many of them performed in clubs  –​some exclusively for the British. Swing musicians flocked to the cities from entertaining at British hill stations after Partition. Jazz was considered a “colonial hangover,” however, and it was possible at that point that there was no place for it in the new India. Interestingly, films, which had just added sound, played a role in maintaining jazz. Fernandes made an excellent point that Indian classical music, being melodically based, did not have the largess of sound required in cinema film scores, which is something that harmony affords. Jazz musicians helped to fill out the film scores with horns, percussion, pianos, and strings. These “arrangers,” mostly Goan, applied what they knew –​from swing and jazz to Western classical works, and parts of Portuguese songs such as “Fado.”2 Also, the ability of Indian musicians to perform by ear enabled them to record quite effectively and efficiently. Several Anglo-​Indian jazz band leaders were able to travel abroad to learn new tunes, while Indians who stayed in in the country learned jazz second hand through recordings or sheet music (Fernandes 2012, 39). Anglo-​Indians such as Ken Mac and Rudy Cotton were prominent in the jazz scene. At the time, musicians who staffed the bands had to be of Anglo or Anglo-​Indian descent in order to be able to play in the whites-​only clubs under the British Raj pre-​independence. After 1947, bands were free to perform with all Indian musicians.

East–West Cross-cultures  •  71

Louis Banks’ interest in the art form developed early on. Louis, considered the Godfather of Indian Jazz, was a Nepalese jazz musician renamed after Louis Armstrong. Louis eventually made his way to Calcutta and performed at the Blue Fox Restaurant, known for its live Western jazz. He was “discovered” by R. D. Burman, the legendary film music composer, and eventually went to Mumbai to work with him in films. Banks endeavored to introduce jazz to Mumbai. He now has thousands of jingles and songs to his name including Bollywood film songs (Phuyal 2005).

Calcutta’s “Cabaret Row” Post-​independence, nightclubs were few and far between. In 1956, Mocambo’s opened its doors on Park Street, and soon became a bastion of live music and an oasis for bands and cabaret acts. Mocambo’s branded itself as India’s first independent nightclub, formed in the European style and featuring jazz and expensive fare (Sengupta 2008). Musicians performed covers of hits, and soon there were clubs lining the streets such as Trinca’s, Blue Fox, Magnolia’s, and many others, each hosting its own array of bands. Park Street in the 1960s and 1970s was likened to London’s West End or New York City’s Broadway. Magnolia’s hosted jam sessions, and cabarets in venues, including the Lido room at Firpo’s hotel, included female cabaret acts such as Miss Shefali, who mastered the Charleston, the Can-​Can, the Twist, the Hawaiian Hula and belly dancing. These acts also included magicians, fire eaters, comedians, drag, and other cabaret fare. Presently, music no longer plays in Calcutta, and Trinca’s is the only place remaining with a live band. Some attribute this decline to the rise of the Communist Party in the city in the 1970s, which disapproved of the music and dancing that went along with the jazz scene. A  second wave of globalization hit the area as one by one the restaurants and clubs were replaced with fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC, etc. (Calcutta: Mocambo, 2008).

Indian Women in Jazz South Asian women jazz pioneers contributed to the music scene in India and abroad. Lucila Pacheco was born in Goa, and studied piano, passing her piano exams for both Trinity College London and the Royal Academy of Music. She performed on both piano and saxophone, and is considered the first person to introduce electronic instruments to India (Blush, 2017). She performed hot jazz regularly in Bombay clubs, and eventually worked in the lucrative film studios. Lucila’s pioneering continued with her choice of saxophone, which is still considered a man’s instrument to this day in India (see the Saxophone Sisters below). She is pictured with Duke Ellington in Figure 3.1. A popular vocal jazz trio at the time was Hendricks, Lambert, and Ross, performing improvised scat singing around the world. After Ross became ill, the group incorporated Sri Lankan singer Yolanda Bavan, who picked up where Ross left off from 1962 onwards. In a contemporary tribute to saxophonist Lucila Pacheco, M.  S. Lavanya and Subbalaxmi, known as the Saxophone Sisters from Chennai, burst onto the scene playing jazz, fusion, film music, and Carnatic music on the saxophone. The sisters are continuing the South Indian tradition of adapting non-​Western instruments to perform Carnatic music, such as the Indian-​style violin. Their performance styles clearly blend traditional Indian culture with expected female behavior. They wear saris, sit on the floor, and assume

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Figure 3.1  Jazz singer Lucila Pacheco with Duke Ellington Source: Jennifer Pacheco, Alvino Pacheco and the Pacheco family

the playing position of other typical Indian wind instruments (shehnai, nagaswaram) to play. Part of the novelty is the notion that these two Indian women are adopting such a typically masculine instrument, and performing jazz and other styles as well, adding in the typical slides, glides, and ornamentation of classical South Indian music. After India’s independence, jazz fell into decline. The temperance movement was in full swing at this time, and the impact of prohibition, written into India’s 1947 constitution (Blocker et al. 2003, 310), meant that cities were unable to support all the jazz musicians because of the lower number of bars and clubs where musicians would earn their living. By the 1950s, as the decline of jazz continued, there was another kind of music to take its place –​Bollywood.

Jazz in the Cinema In the 1950s and 1960s, jazz infiltrated film music. The impact of jazz on Bollywood was profound, and influenced many of the early film songs of the Golden Age. Heavily jazz-​oriented film songs include “Ina Meena Dekha” from the film Asha in 1957, which contained jazz horn sections and arrangements, and “Roop Tera Mastana” from the 1969 film Aradhana, featuring accordion, saxophone, and drums. Not only did the sounds of jazz make their way into film, but the sets and costumes did as well. In Raj Kapoor’s 1955 film Shri 420, “Mur mur ke na dekh” (“Don’t Look Back”) takes inspiration from the aesthetics of American jazz nightclubs in the picturization, with Nadira, the main singer, wearing a stunningly sequined dress.3 The dress’s style is borrowed directly from those worn by lead singers in jazz bands and traveling cabaret shows who performed at the time in India. Today, Jazz music is not mainstream in India, but is a persistently popular genre with clubs opening up in big cities such as the Piano Man Jazz Club in Delhi. Jazz is also regularly used in film music such as the retro-​jazz soundtrack in the film “Bombay

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Velvet” (2015), a crime-​drama set in Mumbai featuring a relationship between a street fighter and a jazz singer. As is the case with any artistic form reliant on live performances, outside events have a great and sometimes highly detrimental impact. The 1965 war between India and Pakistan, known as the Indo-​Pak war, for example, affected live music in India as there was a substantial decrease in nightlife. Musicians during this time could not readily get gigs, and therefore either stopped performing or moved on to other cities or countries, or genres. Some jazz musicians found Bollywood because they lost their nightclub gigging livelihood and had to find work (Booth and Shope 2014). At the time, the Indian film industry was on the rise, but most Bollywood composers were trained in Indian classical music, and didn’t know how to orchestrate songs to be fuller in sound, as Indian music is traditionally rhythm, melody, and drone driven. The idea of orchestrating for the full screen required texture and harmonies. Enter the jazz musicians, who often worked as assistants to the music director and did the arranging for them. In the late 1960s, pop and jazz music were closely related, but it was just about this time that they started gaining independence from each other. South Asia’s first pop hit is cited as belonging to Pakistani playback singer Ahmed Rushdi. The 1966 song “Ko Ko Korina” was widely covered at the time by jazz singers who were performing in Indian nightclubs. Ironically, the next big pop hit also emerged from Pakistan, with the brother and sister duo Nazia and Zoheb Hassan (see below, this chapter). (Pop and rock are discussed more in Chapter 5.) A hybrid style of music that fused jazz and Indian music, emerged from the many jazz musicians who visited India. This new genre, rooted in these international collaborations, would later be called “Indo-​Jazz,” although it was not initially referred to as that. This genre combined jazz, classical, and Indian sounds, and structures would be based on Indian music with the improvisations following traditional jazz formulas (Virmani 2016). By the 1970s, jazz slowly gave way to pop music and rock, and left the prominent clubs of the large cities. Just as this was happening, “Bollywood came to the rescue” (Virmani 2016, 170) and hired musicians for large soundtracks, and incorporated jazz into the film song. THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF JAZZ IN INDIA We are used to thinking about history and time as a steady progression in which economies go from less well off to better off, where the population begins in relative local isolation, or in agrarian poverty and then becomes gradually more cosmopolitan, urbanized, and eventually more economically stable over time. This oversimplified linear description of cultural development is actually not borne out in India, or anywhere for that matter. Indians were world traders under the Mughal Emperors, with high numbers of the population living in urbanized centers relying on international trade and manufacturing. With the decline of the Mughal Empire, and the rise of British rule through the East India Company, India became an importer of cotton from Britain rather than the world’s largest exporter, due to changes in regulation and taxation –​a bone of contention that launched the Quit

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India Movement. India lost its economic advantage, much of its manufacturing base and its international trade. India’s relationship with Britain, however had a tremendous impact in the music world, opening channels for new music and providing the technological infrastructure to sustain and distribute it. African-​American jazz became popular through Britain’s social clubs, which became sites for business discussions and entertainment, as well as the homogenization of Europeans into Indian culture (Shope 2016). The Gramophone Company’s infrastructure and the HMV (His Master’s Voice) label became a means to distribute the music, but after the British left in 1947, India’s economy lacked the open trade it had enjoyed earlier and foreign manufactured goods were difficult to acquire in India. The All India Radio’s programming purification years in 1952 limited popular music (see Chapter 3), and it was difficult to acquire any recordings, in spite of the early arrival of the Beatles. The most important broadcasters of Western pop music were the Radio Ceylon broadcast from Sri Lanka, the Voice of America, and the BBC World Service. After jazz was established in Indian major hubs, a wave of top notch jazz musicians performed in India from the US including Duke Ellington. Their efforts were part of a propaganda campaign on behalf of the US to counter Soviet relations with India. The USSR and the USA were engaged in the Cold War in the 1950s, and each would send arts and musicians to India in an arts proxy war. According to Naresh Fernandes, the Soviets sent the ballet, and the Americans sent African-​ American jazz musicians to convince the world that African-​Americans were free and being treated well. The Goan community was one of the oldest colonizations in the world. Children were taught music in the schools, and when they wanted to work, went out to play gigs –​whatever they could find, altering their talents to fit whatever musical styles were necessary. Most support for jazz musicians came from the Anglo-​Indian and Anglo communities. Indian musicians were prominent members of many jazz bands under Anglo conductors, but soon founded their own bands, and jazz music flourished performing for British and Indians alike.

BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF THE RECORDING INDUSTRY IN INDIA The Gramophone Company started in 1901 in Calcutta, as the first overseas branch of the Gramophone Company, based in Britain. The company’s label, HMV, became India’s recording label releasing Indian classical and film music, as well as international pop music and Indian bands. The Gramophone Company merged with EMI (Electric and Musical Industries) in 1931, and became part of the EMI group, with the Gramophone Company of India being formed in 1946. Bhaskar Menon, the Oxford-​educated Indian-​born executive, became the first CEO of EMI Worldwide and brought the company out of debt and into profit. As head of EMI India, Menon brought pop music to India within a week of its

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release. Menon facilitated Western pop and rock into India, by giving music to Indian musicians to learn and play in the clubs on Park Street. This helped promote these hits in the clubs, and also promoted rock music in general. Fans expected covers of Western recordings, which stifled Indian rock music. Menon eventually became the Los Angeles head of Capitol Records, and worked with most Western rock groups such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. Polydor, the German recording company, was established in India in 1968. Polydor would record and release albums, but promotion and marketing was challenging. The band “The Combustibles,” for example, released two songs on the Polydor label, “Watch Her” and “Some Peace of Mind,” which were not heavily promoted, and copies of the songs were given out by Polydor for free (Bhatia 2015, 80).4 Polydor also promoted Western music created by Indians. The Gramophone Company of India was renamed Saregama in 2000 (Saregama India Ltd., 2018).

Indian Music in and from the West Although musical encounters between Indian music and the West extend back hundreds of years, for the scope of this book, we are interested in the more recent interactions between the cultures.5 Pandit Ravi Shankar, for example, was a revolutionary musician who was open to all types of collaboration, from classical to fusion to pop working with musicians from all over the world. Others followed in a similar mindset, journeying to the West and engaging in musical collaborations that were highly influential and successful. Such case studies include Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ananda Shankar, L. Subramanium, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Indian Music in the Western Consciousness In the 1960s and 1970s, a generation of “hippies” (or travelers, backpackers, beatniks, or seekers, as they preferred to be called) sought alternative spiritual enlightenment, travel adventures, peace, love and the free flow of drugs. Emerging from the tumultuous counter-​culture, a number of them, both famous and not, made their way east to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, and India, preferring India because of the amount of English spoken (Gemie and Ireland 2018). Many stayed for weeks or even years and adopted the parts of the Indian culture they found suitable for their philosophy. International musicians became part of this “new silk music road” if you will, and interacted with and learned from Indian musicians and music. Two genres emerged from these collaborations: Indo-​jazz and raga rock. Indo-​Jazz combined Indian and classical influences with jazz. Although it wasn’t formally established using that moniker, artists such as American jazz musician John Coltrane, Anglo-​ Indian composer John Mayer, Britain’s John McLoughlin, India’s L. Subramanian and others brought together their different traditions and the genre of Indo-​jazz emerged from the fusion of styles. Alice Coltrane, an American jazz harpist, adopted an Indian name and became a swami (ascetic yogi) later in life.

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Figure 3.2  Axis: Bold as Love, Jimi Hendrix album cover (1967)

Raga rock is not considered a separate genre of music per se, but rather rock music that was heavily influenced by Indian timbres, instruments and ideas. Raga rock is primarily associated with the decade of the 1960s, first surfacing in 1965 with the Yardbird’s “Heart Full of Soul,” which utilized a tabla. The trend was picked up from there with the raga rock of the Byrds’ 1966 song “Eight Miles High,” the Beatles’ “Inner Light” (1968) (recorded in Mumbai), The Moody Blues’ “Om” (1968), The Rascals’ “Sattva” (1968), and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Mountainside” (1969). The “ideas” introduced into Western pop songs, however, weren’t always necessarily Indian in nature, but were often orientalist ideas of Indian music.6 For example, in 1967, Jimi Hendrix’s album cover for Axis:  Bold as Love, pictures he and his bandmates as tripartite god Brahman, surrounded by some of the major gods (Hanuman, Ganesh), and holding symbols of Shiva and some of the goddesses all standing under the Shesh Naga, the king of all snakes and a primal being in Hindu creation mythology. Jimi Hendrix’s album cover is an example of cultural appropriation which offended some Hindus. He, along with countless other artists, incorporated the sounds (and the visuals) of India such as sitar, drone and raga-​like melodies, etc. that attempted to blur genre and culture lines. Farrell notes: Indian music became so inextricably linked with pop that Pandit Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha were able to appear before massive audiences at events such as the Monterey Festival in 1968 and be greeted with the same adulation usually accorded only to the giants of rock. This period was the zenith of pop music’s encounter with Indian music. (Farrell 1988, 189) After the Beatles experimented with Indian music, Pandit Ravi Shankar, the Indian classical sitarist, and his tabla player Alla Rakha, became household names, performing and collaborating with non-Indian artists, and appealing increasingly to popular audiences eager for a new albeit orientalist-​tinted experience. Pandit Ravi Shankar, however, approached his musical role as an ambassador, always trying to teach the audience about the music, never just performing and leaving (Farrell 1997).

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It is strange to see pop musicians with sitars. I was confused at first. It had so little to do with our classical music. When George Harrison came to me, I didn’t know what to think, but I found he really wanted to learn. I never thought our meeting would cause such an explosion, that Indian music would suddenly appear on the pop scene. It’s peculiar, but out of this, a real interest is growing. (Pandit Ravi Shankar, quoted in Lavezzoli 2006, 171) Looking at the types of Indian musical elements that appealed to non-Indian musicians and appeared most often in Western pop songs, Farrell gives us the following list: (1) drones, often on tamburi (Lute-​type drone instrument); (2) partial use of specific ‘Indian’ sounds e.g. the tarab (sympathetic strings) on sitar or specific kinds of vocal delivery, with glides, slurs etc.; (3) the sitar used as a kind of idealised acoustic/​electric guitar with its ability to bend and sustain notes –​it is often featured taking lead breaks like electric guitar; (4) the use of additive rather than divisive rhythmic ideas i.e. tala; (5) melodies based on modes which correspond to Indian raga-​s (scale types) rather than chord changes; (6) imitative question-​ answer sequences and unison passages between instruments. (Farrell 1988, 191). Although Indian musicians were and are still happy to perform in the hopes of exposing their culture and sharing their gifts, they were disappointed then and now in audience responses, as listeners of Indian classical or folk music lack full understanding of or readiness for the music. Westerners were not ready to receive it in the way in which it was intended.7 The rasika, in other words, was absent, and drug use at most of the concert venues provided only a simulacrum of what Westerners thought the experience should be like. India’s relationship with Western classical music, as we shall see, does not differ greatly from the Western relationship with Indian classical music. Although there are certainly many classical aficionados and musicophiles in India, Western classical music has not become mainstream, and with one glaring exceptional moment in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Indian classical music hasn’t caught on in non-​Indian populations in the West. The same cannot be said of India’s relationship with popular music, as we shall see in the coming chapters.

East–​West Meetings (the 1960s–​1970s) “Ravi Shankar is the Godfather of World Music” –​George Harrison One of the most significant East–​West cultural exchanges occurred in the early years of rock, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and experimental music of the 1960s. It began with the arrival of Pandit Ravi Shankar on the popular music scene. Indian classical music caught the attention of the world, particularly musicians in the West, through hippies seeking new musical experiences. Western musicians looked outward, mostly as

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a byproduct of a search for spiritual fulfillment in Eastern religions. What musical and cultural elements characterized the exchange between them? This section will identify the significant elements of this iconic cross-​cultural exchange. At the forefront of this endeavor, was Pandit Ravi Shankar, sitarist and global ambassador for Indian music to the West. Shankar’s entry into this role emerged from a series of serendipitous occasions. Shankar learned sitar in the traditional guru–​shishya system, living with his guru Allauddin Khan, a sarod player and lead musician of the Court of Maihar. Shankar was part of a delegation to the Soviet Union in 1952 and in the same year, met violinist Yehudi Menuhin when he was on tour in India. Menuhin invited Shankar to New York to demonstrate Indian classical music to audiences in 1955. From there, Shankar toured Europe, the UK, Australia, and US, bringing his patient teaching style and demonstrations to audiences. While on tour in the US, Shankar met Richard Bock, who ran a recording studio where the band the Byrds also recorded. They heard Ravi’s music, and borrowed some of the Indian elements for their sound. The Byrds then introduced Shankar to George Harrison of the Beatles, who took lessons from Shankar and incorporated Indian classical sounds in some of their hits. Shankar went on to perform iconic performances at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and Woodstock in 1969, cementing himself as one of the most significant international musical influences in Western popular music. Shankar, however, greatly disliked the association of Indian music with drugs, and gradually distanced himself from the drug subculture in the late 1960s. He went on to found the Kinnara Music Institute and to teach at the California Institute of the Arts. Shankar’s legacy extends to the current day through his two daughters  –​Anoushka Shankar, and Nora Jones, both award-​winning musicians. Anoushka followed in her father’s footsteps and performs Indian classical sitar, while Nora Jones, his daughter from an affair, was rated by Billboard magazine as the top jazz artist of the decade (2000–​ 2009), selling 50 million albums. Anand Shankar and the Beginning of British-​Asian Fusion While Pandit Ravi Shankar certainly is the most famous Indian musician in the West, he was not the only influential one. Rather, it was another Shankar whose music had a significant impact on Western–​Indian and particularly British–​Asian fusions that would initiate a lasting collaborative trend in certain circles. Ananda Shankar, Pandit Ravi Shankar’s nephew, learned sitar from a gharana and made his way to Los Angeles in the late 1960s where he played with musicians such as Jimi Hendrix. Ananda’s most lasting legacy was his cover of Western popular music on sitar, which he played using completely contemporary rock arrangements. In his own words, Shankar notes “I have had a dream to try to combine Western and Indian music into a new form, a music which has no particular name, but is melodious and touching, and which combines the most modern electronic devices with the old traditional instrument, the sitar.” On his eponymous studio album Ananda Shankar (1970), Shankar features original compositions and arrangements, plus covers of the two hit songs –​the Doors “Light my Fire,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” These covers were included to help the album, sell based on the popular idea of raga rock. Ananda Shankar collaborated with Paul Lewison on most of the tracks, with Lewison on synthesizer. His studio musicians

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featured artists from the rock groups Bread and the Electric Prunes, and those who worked with Elvis, the Doors, and others. The album is on the “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” list,8 and is considered an important influence on world music and at the forefront of British–​Asian fusion as artists on both sides of the globe imitated his creativity. In the Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” cover, Shankar uses all Western instruments, including a Moog Synthesizer, bass guitar, drums, electric guitar, etc., except for his featured sitar and an Indian tabla. The sitar plays the song’s melody, while backing vocals sing the refrain. After a few straightforward iterations of the melody, Ananda Shankar veers off into impressive improvisation for the next two verses. The Moog Synthesizer is quite prominent, offering oscillations and other sound effects commonly used at the time. Although he was willing to collaborate with other musicians, he turned down working with Jimi Hendrix for fear that his music wouldn’t be his own anymore. Shankar’s music was a huge club hit in Britain and elsewhere, and was even played frequently on All India Radio in the 1970s. The album received a second life as a reissue in 2005, and is featured on contemporary television shows such as Outsourced and Master of None. Subramaniam and Carnatic Fusion Violinist L.  Subramaniam is South India’s ambassador for world music. Trained in Western classical and South Indian Carnatic styles, Subramaniam has collaborated with some of the top musicians in the world including violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, violinist Stephane Grappelli, flautist Jean-​Pierre Rampal, and conductor Zubin Mehta. His training in classical music resulted in orchestral compositions that combine Western and Indian concepts –​works that have been performed in orchestras in Europe and the US, and for ballet performances. L. Subramaniam is widely known for his contribution to jazz fusion and collaborations with George Harrison, Herbie Hancock, and other renowned American jazz artists. With over 200 recordings to his name, Subramaniam is credited with furthering this neo-​fusion sound on collaborations

Figure 3.3  Violin maestro L. Subramanium Source: Suyash.dwivedi [CC BY-​SA 4.0 (https://​​licenses/​by-​sa/​4.0)]

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such as “Blossom” 1981 (featuring Herbie Hancock), “Fantasy without Limits” 1980 (featuring Zakir Hussain) and many others. Subramaniam performed on the Shankar–​ Harrison album Shankar Family and Friends in 1974. His 1999 release Global Fusion is highly acclaimed for its technical work. Subramaniam is also a strong advocate for music education in India and around the world, with his own charitable foundation and music school the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts (SAPA). Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Emperor of Qawwali and Peter Gabriel I was teaching at the University of Virginia when a famous qawwali group came to concertize I noticed that the audience was filled with Indians, many of whom had traveled long distances to hear the concert. When in India, I  also noted the large number of Hindus who were familiar with many qawwali and Sufi songs that they would sing along to. It was striking from an outsider’s perspective that people of completely different and often tension-​ridden religious traditions would not only know each other’s music, but so enthusiastically participate in it. This popularity is attributed, in part, to the works of the great Sufi poets who are part of India’s legacy, as well as the musicians themselves who helped popularize the genre in India and elsewhere. Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was one of those musicians.9 Khan was born into a family of qawwal-​s in Pakistan, but his father wanted him to be a doctor or engineer. Instead, Khan followed the 600-​year tradition of his family, and learned music. After a successful career in his native Pakistan and India, Khan made it his mission to bring music to the West. As qawwali has both sacred and secular connotations, Khan performed and collaborated with a wide range of musicians by emphasizing secular qawwali, which favors musical creativity over the text, clearly demarcated songs, and no particular order of songs, as is necessary in a sacred performance (Sakata 1994, 90). Some of these secular collaborations occurred through international tours at world music festivals, a popular music category from the 1980s. In 1985, Khan performed at World of Music, Arts, and Dance (WOMAD), founded by Peter Gabriel of Genesis. He then teamed up with Gabriel on the film soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988, and signed on to Gabriel’s record label, Real World, for a series of albums. One such album Mustt Mustt, became popular in Pakistan, helping to cement Nusrat’s fame back home as well as on the road. His work on the 1995 film Dead Man Walking had him team up with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vetter. This turned out to be one of his most popular collaborations. Khan is also cited as one of the top 50 voices of all time by National Public Radio. The Grammy-​nominated artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan treated his mission as a qawwali singer in both sacred and secular contexts similarly, and he saw his forays into the West as experiments. In other words, they did not detract from who he was or from his spirituality. In 1992 he stated: the musical instruments may be Western, but my voice never wavers away from my own raga-​s. It is good to make experiments and I do a lot of them, but my thoughts always round the centre and that centre is the tradition of my elders, and it is classical music. Although the performances may differ in context, location, and audience, he feels that he is just singing for God, and that the music is a way for people to experience God: even

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if the listener can’t understand the words, the “music will light the flame of the soul” (Sakata 1994, 96).

Zakir Hussain: Tabla Maestro and John McLaughlin: Guitar Hero In the string of musicians we’ve looked at so far, Ustad Zakir Hussain stands out as the only percussionist in a group of melodically-oriented performers. It is difficult in any culture to bring drumming to a mainstream spotlight, but in Indian music it is particularly difficult given that the tabla pakhawaj or any other drum is not only considered inferior as an instrument, but the cultural stigma that surrounds percussion instruments stems from the Hindu belief in the pollution of animals skins stretched across the instrument’s frames. Zakir Hussain has managed to raise the instrument’s status to such a level that he is considered a superstar, and is emulated on an international scale for his performance technique and style. Zakir Hussain comes from a long hereditary lineage of musicians. He is the son of Alla Rakha, who was Pandit Ravi Shankar’s tabla player, and showed prodigious talent on the instrument from an early age. He toured internationally, and like Pandit Ravi Shankar, found musical collaborations along the way. Hussain’s work with guitarist John McLaughlin, a jazz fusion artist who incorporated jazz, rock, classical, and world music, is among his most noted collaborations. McLaughlin, who studied the Indian vīna and Zakir, formed a fusion group called Shakti (Energy) in the 1970s that was highly acclaimed and influential. The Grammy-​nominated group brought together the worlds of Europe and Asia, and also North and South India as it combined both traditions through its musicians. Prior to Shakti’s formation, McLaughlin himself formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1971, a jazz–​rock fusion band experimenting with combining jazz harmonies, progressive rock, and extensive improvisation and experimentation with timbres, rhythms, technology, and melody. Although not explicitly Indian in orientation, the group incorporated complex rhythmic structures indicative of Indian classical as well as Western classical music.

Figure 3.4  Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain Source: Krupasindhu Muduli [CC BY-​SA 3.0] https://​​wiki/​File:Ustad_​Zakir_​ Hussain_​2.jpg

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Hussain also worked with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead on a percussion album entitled Planet Drum in 1991, which won the first Grammy Award for Best World Music in 1992. Many of his collaborations, for example with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti, and Mickey Hart, had several incarnations, disbanding and reuniting several times over the course of decades. Shakti’s last incarnation, Remember Shakti, was nominated for a Grammy in 2001, and Planet Drum turned into the Global Drum Project, earning a Grammy in 2009. During the World Music boom in the 1990s, there were many such crossover collaborations. Multi-​instrumentalist Ry Cooder, best known for his guitar playing, worked with Vishnu Mohan Bhatt on A Meeting by the River in 1993. The album featured the Mohan Vīna, an instrument created by Bhatt himself that consisted of a modified Hawaiian guitar and sarod. It contains both melody strings, drone strings, and sympathetic strings with 20 strings in all. The album won a Grammy in 1994 for Best World Music Album.

CONTEMPORARY COLLABORATIONS 2010S In the past decade, numerous other collaborations between Indian and other musicians have occurred, from pop music to film. • •

In the 2010 film Ra.One, Akon collaborated with music directors Vishal and Shekhar for work on two songs, “Criminal” and “Chammak Challo.” Playback pop star Sunidhi Chauhan teamed up with Enrique Iglesias in 2011 for a cut called “Heartbeat.”

Figure 3.5  Africa meets India, global fusion Left to right: Abhik Mukherjee, Eric Fraser, Kevin Nathaniel, Salieu Suso

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• • •

George Harrison and Pandit Ravi Shankar produced Collaborations (2010), a four-​disc release of Harrison’s earlier works, which was released on Dark Horse Records, a post-​Beatles label. Britney Spears and playback singer Sonu Nigam recorded “I Wanna Fly” (2011) from her Femme Fatale album. Africa meets India. Non-​Western and Indian collaborations include the ensemble Afrika meets India, which is a global fusion group including both Indian and Zimbabwean musicians. Sitar, tabla and bansuri join with mbira, kora and shekere to produce raga-​inspired melodies with traditional Zimbabwe songs.

The British-Asian Wave: Born in Britain, Remade in India The Indian Diaspora Sings It is difficult to think of a well-​known global pop star from India on the level of Pandit Ravi Shankar, with the possible exception of A. R. Rahman (see Chapters 1, 4, and 7). The rise of the South Asian population in Britain, however, heralded pop musicians of Indian descent who not only hit the British charts, but influenced major musical trends in India and elsewhere. The first Indian popular genre to reach the level of an international phenomenon was the highly danceable and infectious bhangra originating in the Punjab. Many of the UK artists were bhangra singers. By the early 2000s, bhangra was an international phenomenon resulting in bhangra troupes in colleges and universities, and bhangra ringtones on phones, even among people who had no Indian connections whatsoever. As we revisit the British colonial legacy we see that its impact opened up travel from India to Britain, Europe, Canada, the US, and beyond, sparking a substantial Indian diaspora. It began as only a migratory trickle during the 19th-​century British Raj, when several hundred veterans of the British army in India moved abroad. Large populations migrated from India post-​partition in 1947 to countries affiliated with the British Empire. Britain witnessed an influx of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, and Indians. Punjabis, in particular, comprised a large minority group as many had served in the British armies in India for 100  years during the Raj. Labor shortages in Britain after India’s Partition and the breakup of the British Commonwealth after World War II spurred the migration of Punjabi and Pakistani men and their families working in Britain’s textile, manufacturing, and service sectors. By the end of the 20th century, the migration of South Asians had changed Britain’s culture to such an extent that curry entered mainstream English cuisine alongside traditional fish and chips. By the 2011 Census, over 3 million South Asians lived in Britain, or made up 5% of the total population, roughly half from India and the rest mostly from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Music, likewise, found itself in the same situation as cuisine. As the cultural fabric changed with immigrants from Indian descent, bhangra folk music became increasingly popular. Initially, bhangra music in the UK maintained its original heritage, sung by

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older males, using traditional Punjabi instrumentation. However, the folk genre in the original form brought by Punjabi immigrants was a bit too repetitive and staid for the new generation. When fused with rock, however, it created a sound that encapsulated the emerging diasporic identity. As Huq notes, bhangra is “Punjabi folk and Western pop shoved into the blender at high speed…at least as quintessentially ‘British’ as it is “Asian,’ although [its] influences stretches beyond the UK to Canada and the USA, and of course the music has been re-​exported back to South Asia” (Huq 1996, 61, 63). The high-​energy musical fusion brewed in Britain made its way back to India, fueling a cross-​cultural exchange of creativity that continues today. As Gopinath mentions, Indian immigrants in the US tended towards more affluent professions, whereas in the UK, they worked in lower-​class occupations. As the next generation of South Asians grew up, they saw an opportunity to use bhangra to create a sense of shared identity. In this way, many of the early British-​Asian artists were bhangra based, but also creatively absorbed multi-​ethnic musics into their sound. Gopinath extends this idea of transnational spaces into the idea that “an analysis of bhangra demands not only that diaspora be seen as part of the nation, but that the nation be rethought as part of the diaspora as well” (1995). In this sense, India is no longer a fixed idea of the “motherland” or homeland, but part of the same process through which sound, culture, and ideas flow.

From Punjab to Birmingham and Back London, Southall, and Birmingham, UK all have large South Asian populations. Birmingham in particular is known for its wide racial and ethnic diversity. Home to Indians, Pakistanis, Caribbeans, and Chinese, Birmingham is a virtual cultural melting pot, and has provided a range of influences to cultivate a new Indian-​Asian sound. Many of the artists in this district either moved there as a child, or grew up there, hearing sounds from all over. Jazzy B, Bally Sagoo, Apache Indian, and many more influential British Indians called Birmingham home, absorbing the confluence of sounds around them as part of their identity. The earliest roots of these new bhangra sound brings us to 1977, when Punjab-​born Channi Singh formed the band Alaap shortly after arriving in the UK. The band is known for introducing UK youth to the bhangra genre, and incorporated Western, Punjabi, and electronic instruments into the sound, creating the UK bhangra genre. Their hit “Bhabiye ni Bhabiye” (1982) is sung entirely in Punjabi, and traditional instruments dominate. In the same year, however, the UK group Monsoon’s hit “Ever so Lonely,” featuring Sheila Chandra as lead singer, seemed more of a continuation of the Beatles’ and The Byrds’ treatment of Indian music rather than a new genre. In this song, instrumentation features electric guitar, sitar, tabla and synthesizer. Lyrics are in English, and the sitar shadows the melody during the verses with improvised riffs over a drum machine rock backbeat. The song’s video draws attention to exotic Indian images with a camel walking through the set in the middle of the song. These two styles –​the bhangra sound and the UK pop sound –​mark early but distinct trends in UK Asian music. Some Indians fused bhangra with Western rock, pop and other ethnic genres, providing the listener with a clearly syncretic mix of the two musical traditions (UK music genres and bhangra). Another trend is that some Indians

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subscribed to the musical lineages already established in UK pop, and sound completely Western in style.

The Rise of the Asian Underground in UK and India The term Asian Underground is used to refer to British-​Asian and South Asian Canadian music that combine underground dance styles (such as techno, house, ambient, jungle) with Indian music such as bhangra. Asian Underground began in the 1980s, but took off in the 1990s as these fusions became more mainstream. Musicians such as Talvin Singh, Punjabi MC, Apache Indian and many others were part of this Asian Underground music movement, which went on to influence music in India and US hip-​hop as well. In the early 2000s, having a bhangra ringtone was fashionable in the UK and US. In the 1980s and 1990s, several British-​Asian hits crossed over into the UK market, offering a sonic glimpse into its multi-​ethnic identity and tensions. From the racially mixed area of Birmingham, Steven Kapur, whose stage name is Apache Indian, grew up in a Punjabi household influenced by reggae, hip-​hop, Punjabi, and other musics. Apache became a dancehall DJ and then singer, adopting a Jamaican patois mixed with Punjabi, Hindi, and English. His rough, low, voice growls out the lyrics in his singular style. His music established a subgenre of dancehall known as bhangra raggamuffin or bhangramuffin, combining influences of reggae and dancehall, using electronic sounds with a bhangra beat and melodic idioms. Apache’s adopted name is a direct reference to Native America, as are the names of his albums (e.g. No Reservations, and Make Way for the Indian), signifying not only political resistance, but making light of the idea that all people of color are lumped together in one category. Indeed, several of his songs are controversial, calling out white Britain on its perspectives of South Asians, Jamaicans, and other communities. Although not radically political in his music, he does, as Asher notes, draw attention to the experience of the South Asians by claiming a space –​even one created through the appropriation of others in the negotiation process (Asher 1999, 208). In 1993, Apache Indian released his “Boom-​ Shak-​ a-​ Lak” from the album No Reservations, which reached number 5 in the UK. His video features India’s reaction to him as a major star, thanking him for his music at concerts and including random shots of Indians in the streets dancing to it. Part of his Indian success lay in his appearance in a Tamil film, which was a hit in India. In the same year, Asian Dub Foundation, an electronica band, formed. The band’s members were an integration of British-​Indian and British musicians. Asian Dub combined dancehall, reggae, electronica, dub, ragga, rock, and punk styles –​and included a touch of sitar inspiration and rap to round out their soundprint. The emphasis on electronic and dance music in the UK gave a legacy to the DJ community and the fusion of dance music with other genres, such as Indi-​pop. British rapper Punjabi MC’s style was influenced by hip-​hop, alternative, bhangra, and jungle. His landmark hit, “Mundiyan to Bach ke” (“Beware of the Boys”), was released in 1998. This was considered a breakthrough album which reached number 4 on the Indian hit list. The release is an excellent example of new fusion styles to come, as it utilized bhangra and foreshadowed Desi hip-​hop in a video shot in the Indian diasporic neighborhoods of Kuala Lumpur, with a bass line sampling from Busta Rhymes,

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borrowed from the American TV show Knight Rider. The song was re-​released in 2003 as a remix with Jay Z and reached number 1 in the charts.

Indi-​pop  Nation Indi-​pop (aka Indian Pop or Indipop) is an independent music genre, separate from the film music industry. Indi-​pop music is produced by musicians in India as opposed to those from the British-​Asian scene. The term Indi-​pop was first used in 1981 by Monsoon, one of the most successful British-​Asian bands (see above, this chapter). The term gained ground in India with a Pakistani sibling duo Nazia and Zoheb Hassan, who were pop musicians. Their first hit, “Aap Jaisa Koī Meri Zindagi,” for the 1980 film Qurbani, did not escape the disco craze of the late 1970s. This filmi-​disco song features heavily the synthesizer and electronic sounds (syncussion, syndrums) that revolutionized Bollywood music. Nazia was the first Pakistani pop singer to make it to the British charts with the hit “Dreamer Deewane.” Nazia and her brother Zoheb recorded two of the best-​selling South Asian pop albums (still), Disco Deewane in 1981, and Young Tarang in 1984. Daler Mehndi: Bhangra Indi-​pop Superstar The year 1995 marked a turning point for Indi-​pop and bhangra. British-​Asian UK artists combined with the rise of MTV provided the perfect combination to launch Indian pop music from India onto the international scene. Two of the many artists to push Indi-​pop into the limelight were Daler Mehndi and Alisha Chinai, both Indian. Daler Mehndi was a mid-​1990s phenomenon who brought bhangra to international attention. Mehndi, a bhangra and Indi-​pop star, dominated the charts in the second half of the 1990s. His first super hit was “Bolo Ta Ra Ra,” a highly infectious dance number sung in Punjabi and released in 1995. The song reached European and US shores as well, and is ranked second best-​selling pop album in India. To say that this song was a hit is to underestimate its popularity, staying power, and sheer ubiquitousness on the subcontinent. There were few wedding receptions in India in the 1990s (even to the middle of the next decade) that did not play “Bolo Ta Ra Ra” at least once. The singular popularity of this song helped create a parallel pop music industry in India that began to rival Bollywood and pave the way for many other Indi-​pop artists. Another hit in 1998 was “Thunak, Thunak, Tun,” words that imitate the onomatopoeic sound of the Punjabi tumbi (or toombi, Tumba, toomba), a plucked single-​stringed folk instrument with a resonator. The lyrics are folk-​based, drawing direct reference from the plucked string of the tumbi to the heart strings. Sweetheart, the strings of toomba play Listen to what the heart says Come and love me, Sweetheart (“Thunak, Thunak, Tun”, excerpt) The video for this song went viral, and was the first Indian video to use green screen technology. Mehndi went on to have many such international hits, resonating not only with the large Punjabi diaspora, but with NRIs and non-​Indians as well.

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Figure 3.6  Daler Mehndi, bhangra Indi-​pop singers Source: Phronesisindia [CC BY-​SA 4.0] https://​​wiki/​File:Daler_​Mehndi_​on_​Stage. jpg

Alisha Chinai: Global Indi-​pop Superstar In 1995, Alisha Chinai released her studio album Made in India. This was the first album to rival a Bollywood soundtrack in sales, and put independent rock and pop music firmly on the map. As Gaurav Vaz from the Raghu Dixit Project notes in Standing By (Chapter 4), Alisha Chinai was more popular than Bollywood, and yet no song of hers from that time was included in a film. He goes on to suggest that if that independent trajectory had lasted a few more years, the entire independent music scene in India would have been different. Alisha was one of the first global Indi-​pop stars, receiving a Billboard International Award in 1995, the Channel V Viewer’s Choice award for best Asian artist,10 and the Freddie Mercury award. Alisha did become part of the Bollywood music scene, and was equally popular for her playback singing as well, winning awards for her recordings. As Alisha herself notes in an interview with Kvetko, Indi-​pop sound is distinct from that of Bollywood and doesn’t have that squeak sound (Kvetko 2009, 119). Regarding the groundbreaking sales and popularity of her Made in India album, Kvetko notes that it “marks both the pride in a new domestic popular music ready for export…and a patriotic anthem encouraging citizens to stay true to the homeland even in a era of free trade and burgeoning labour migration” (Kvetko 2009, 120).

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The song “Made in India” from her eponymous album can also be read a different way as the “Mera Joota Hai Japani” of the post-​liberal generation. The lyrics themselves allude to a comparison: I’ve seen the whole world from Japan to Russia, from Australia to America I’ve seen the dream of loving someone –​this heart wants someone close Neither silver nor gold, but a diamond whose heart is Indian (“Made in India,” English translation from Hindi, excerpt) The chart below of best-​selling pop albums in India should give some idea of the rise of Indi-​pop and the influence of British-​Asian pop in India. The chart indicates the best-​selling pop albums in terms of artist, year, country of artist’s origin, genre, and the number of units sold. By any other country’s standards, the units sold are very low, however: the chart shows the increasing imprint of British-​Asian music on the subcontinent, including the evolution of genres from national pop, bhangra, film, qawwali, to hip-​hop and rap.





Units Sold/​ Million



Disco Deewane




Young Tarang





Tootak Tootak Toothian Bolo Ta Ra Ra

1995 1997 1997

6 8 5





Made in India Vande Mataram Tum To Thehre Pardesi Mundiyan To Bach Ke Deewana



Oye Hoye



Nazia and Zoheb/​ Pakistan-​Pop Nazia and Zoheb/​Pakistan Pop Malkit Singh/​UK Punjabi bhangra Daler Mehndi/​India Punjabi bhangra Alisha Chinai/​India-​Pop, film A. R. Rahman/​India Altaf Raja/​India Qawwali Panjabi  MC/​UK Bhangra/​hip-​hop Sonu Nigam/​India Pop, film Harbhajan Mann/​India-​Canada Punjabi Jay Sean/​UK R&B, pop, bhangra, soul

Me Against Myself

40 2.5 20 3 2 4 10 1.2 1.2 211

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Comparing the top selling albums of Indi-​pop music with those of film music, however, reveals the large discrepancy between the two groups. From 1980 to 2000, only four Indi-​ pop musicians make the list, with the remaining eight were film soundtracks.12 One Indian band outside of the UK is the the Bombay Vikings, a group from Sweden led by Punjab-​born singer Neeraj Shridhar. Bombay Vikings had a hit in 1999 with the song “Kya Surat Hai.” Neeraj became known as the King of Hinglish Music, as it was through his foresight that the group’s songs relied on the combination of languages. “Hinglish,” a dialect of Hindi and English, is commonly spoken among the South Asian diasporic community, but is also quickly becoming a linguistic staple in India among middle-​class Indians. THE GLOBAL AND LOCAL IN “KYA SURAT HAI” In 2016, the news outlet India Today researched the musical influence of Bombay Viking’s 1982 hit “Kya Surat Hai,” and traced the melody back to a 1962 song, “Zaroorat Hai Zaroorat Hai,” sung by Kishore Kumar and composed by Madan Mohan for the film Manmauji.13 Similarities between the two songs aside, the other striking feature is that Bombay Vikings’ song was initially felt to be too “heavy on English lyrics and beats” for Indian audiences. The fact that it went on to be quite popular in both the UK and India attest to the changing climate and rise of Hinglish on the subcontinent and in the diaspora. Diasporic music was popular in India due to its new sound, but also for its visuals. MTV in the UK and US appeared ten years before India, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s changed the perception of videos to become the method of consumption for popular music. The dynamic and slick production values that appeared on Indian TVs from abroad encouraged Indian bands to create their own videos as well. MTV impacted Britain as it did the US, and made inroads in India in the 1990s.

Desi Hip-​Hop: Beyond Indi-​pop Most British-​Asian songs address the contentious issue of life in Britain for those of Indian descent, even if the message is not explicit. Many of these examples demonstrate the use of popular music to create, celebrate, and solidify British-​Asian cultural identity as second and third generations of Asians find their voice. Even as of this publication, this issue is still a contentious one. Raxstar, a British-​Asian rapper recently put out a video, “You Know What British Asians Look Like…This Is How it Sounds,” confronting the idea that you can be both British and Asian.14 Desi Hip-​Hop first took off in the UK in early 1990s with music of Apache Indian in the UK and Baba Sehgal from India, who was considered the first Indian rapper. In Sehgal’s release of “Thanda, Thanda Pani” (which sampled “Ice, Ice Baby,” which sampled “Under Pressure”) he penned themes typically found in hip-​hop (misogynistic attitudes towards women and glorification of drugs and violence). In the early 2000s, Bohemia, considered the father of hip-​hop, hit the UK charts with “Vich Pardesan de” (“In the Foreign Land”). Bohemia is an Indian-​American who is Compton-​raised, given the

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legitimacy and street cred by tapping into the Compton hip-​hop legacy. His dual ethnicity is mirrored exactly in his coined phrase “Desi Hip-​Hop,” which he used to describe his music. The lyrics of “Vich Pardesan de” describe life in the US, and reinforce a negative and isolationist view of living outside of India, which is a commonly held perspective among Indians. Speaking from the diaspora to the homeland, Bohemia found popularity on the subcontinent (Sawhney 2016): The lifestyle is different here Cheating is truth here Heartiness is false here I left this place through seven seas Here I am searching for life My hobbies are destroyed I lost much time here (“Vich Pardesan De”, “In the Foreign Land,” excerpt) Similar to earlier international genres that inspired Indian musicians, hip-​hop has helped to bring a new perspective to India’s place in the global music world as identities come into new relief. Artists, for example, may take a Sanskritized name, include devotional themes, and even classical sounds. Brodha V, born Vighnesh Shivanand, is a hip-​ hop artist and rapper from Bangalore. While his work is inspired by rap stars Eminem, Tupac, and Notorious B.I.G., Vighnesh took another perspective on rap music, creating his own style that blends in Indian Hindustani classical music as well (Anien 2016). His videos do not feature female bodies, as do most traditional hip-​hop songs, and he raps about everyday life, making it in the industry, challenges, and devotional songs with a beat. “Aatma Rama” became popular for its powerful message of struggle as an Indian. The song’s refrain is from a bhajan, which translates as “Chant the name of Rama, bestower of happiness and resident of our heart. Worship the lotus feet of Lord Narayana, Achyutha, Keshava and Hari, destroy the fear of cycle of birth and death.” But the world is biased, so wild, they got me slapped with a fine I never got a chance, Never let me spit on the mic Only cuz I come from a land where people ain’t white Day and night I keep flowing, completing all my demo tracks In spite being denied the right by anti-​democrats (“Aatma Rama,” excerpt) Krsna (also spelled KR$NA and nee Krishna Kaul), is a rapper from New Delhi who took his name from the Sanskrit spelling for Lord Krishna. Krsna’s advent on the scene was propagated by Contrabands, a joint venture company between Universal Music India, VH1, and Hard Rock Cafe, which signed him to a contract in 2013. His motivation and artistic perspective ran counter to what he saw as the loss of integrity in the hip-​hop genre and in Indian pop, caused by the domination of the Indian film industry. Krnsa mixes underground rap with a socio-​political message emphasizing lyrics that he felt

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were being “diluted” (Radio and Music 2014). His album entitled Sellout (2014) contains English lyrics, and a song called “Sellout”15 which addresses his rap industry concerns. In addition, the song “Last Night” is fully based on the hip-​hop imagery that is popular with rap artists. HIP-​HOP CONTROVERSIES AND BACKLASH Yo Yo Honey Singh, né Hirdesh Singh in Punjab, India, began his career in 2006 singing bhangra folk in the group Mafia Mundeer along with two other Punjabi artists, Badshah and Raftaar. Singh branched off to start a solo career a few years later, and by early 2010, the singer, music producer, music director, and actor was at the height of his popularity with two songs on top of the charts from two films Cocktail (“Angrezi Beat Te”) and Son of Sardaar, and an album entitled International Villager (2011) marking his pop star status. Yo Yo is an excellent example of the multi-​fluidity of pop musicians post-​liberalization. Honey Singh began his career recording as an Indi-​pop singer, and he and Badshah went on to receive many awards with breakthrough songs and albums. After Mafia Mundeer broke up in 2012, Honey turned to production, and produced bhangra music and eventually music for Indian cinema. Later, Honey Singh began acting in Bollywood films. He is one of pop music’s biggest, and highest paid stars, receiving the most money for a single playback song in all of Indian cinema at $97,000 (7 million rupees) for one number (“Shal Pe Matak”) for the film Mastan. He has reached the top of the Asian Underground charts, has won Punjabi film music wards, and is one of India’s most controversial pop artists. His entry into films caused consternation among the public, who first had to reconsider the misogyny of Bollywood and then recontextualize Honey Singh’s place within it. Critics accuse the Hindi film industry of normalizing his blatant hostility and violent aggression towards women (Chintamani 2013). Honey is accused of highly misogynistic lyrics during a time of increasing social protests against sexual violence in India. Some of his lyrics are highly suggestive, aggressive and violent towards women, far beyond the scope of regular hip-​hop lyrics. One of his first independent songs with Badshah, for example, was titled “Choot No. 1,” a highly derogatory word for vagina, with lyrics that went on to describe rape, battery, and additional forms of sexual violation (a translation can be found in Singh 2018). After a highly publicized rape in 2012 in which a young medical student was brutally raped and subsequently died from her injuries sustained on a Delhi bus, Honey Singh’s songs came under attack. In response, women like Rene Sharanya posted “Open Letter to Honey Singh” at a Delhi Poetry Slam in 2015, in which she rapped criticism of his lyrics and attitude towards women. As of 2018, Rene’s video had almost 2 million hits. Hard Kaur (Taran Kaur Dhillon) is a British-​Asian rapper, hip-​hop artist, as well as Indian film playback singer and actress. Born in India, Kaur moved to Birmingham after her father died, her mother’s beauty parlor burnt down two days later, and she was no

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Figure 3.7  Rap artist Honey Singh Source: Flexfxproductions [CC BY-​SA 4.0] https://​​wiki/​File:Yo_​Yo_​Honey_​Singh_​ 2014.JPGw

longer welcome in her grandfather’s house. The mother remarried a Britisher, and they moved to Birmingham. Kaur considers herself India’s first female rapper, making big inroads into the Indian market with her hit song “Ek Glassy” (“One Glass”). This hit brought her out of the British-​Asian category and into the Indian. She uses a mixture of languages: English in her verses and Hindi in the refrain or hooks (Sharma 2008). Lyrics for the song “Ek Glassy” are almost entirely in English except for the first line of the refrain “ek glassy, do glassy, teen glassy, char” (“One Glass, Two Glasses, Three Glasses, Four”), with no Hindi or any other reference to India besides the”Punjabi style” call out. The lyrical theme is familiar as hip-​hop braggadocio about excessive drinking and partying. Gotta tell u da brandys high, Punjabi style, always Cause a fyt now Girlfrnd dnt u have noe fear, grab ur beer, lets hav A cheer Getting mashed up, ay no dout, I think am gunna fall, sumbody hold me now (“Ek Glassy,” excerpt) After some success with songs for Bollywood, Kaur moved back to India and currently works from there, with ambitions to collaborate with other artists. As a playback singer and hip-​hop artist, Kaur is part of the crossover group of Bollywood–​independent

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music marriages. She began singing in Bollywood in 2007, and launched her own album the same year entitled Supawoman. As a female artist, Taran is a pioneer in desi rap, and wields a powerful attitude in the scene from that perspective. A WORD ON INDIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY CHARTS India’s music industry does not maintain its own official charts, but relies on the Times of India newspaper and Radio Mirchi (both part of the Times Group) for various ranking information along with iTunes sales. Radio Mirchi publishes lists such as the Mirchi Top 20, which includes film and non-​film songs, and Angrezi Top 20 Countdown, which keeps track of non-​Indian music and regional top 20 lists (Tamil Top 20, Kannada Top 20, Malayalam Top 20, Bengali Top 20, and so forth). As of this writing, however, only one of the songs on the Mirchi Top 20 chart was from an independent album, Indian rapper Badshah’s new album O.N.E. The remaining 19 were film songs.

Conclusion With inspiration from British-​Asian music, Indian pop become popular in the early 1980s. The genre fought against the overwhelming tide of Indian film music and finally dominated the market for a brief moment by the late 1990s. One of the main reasons that Indi-​pop music has had less commercial success is that Indian film music already has a monopoly over the industry and pop music subject matter –​love and romance.16 The majority of romantic sentiments (love, longing, and lust) are accomplished through film songs, creating less need for that emotional subject to be fulfilled through a separate genre such as Indi-​pop. Love songs performed by pop musicians, however, seem to have the function of containing more sexually explicit lyrics and themes, although these sexually charged themes are not as popularly covered in film music of the romantic kind.

Notes 1 Fernandes is the author of Taj Mahal Fox Trot, which can be viewed at https://​​ watch?v=5psAxN1jhV4 2 See https://​​watch?v=5psAxN1jhV4 3 As an example of the cosmopolitanism of Bombay at the time, Nadira herself was of Baghdadi and Jewish descent. 4 The rock magazine Junior Statesman ended up promoting the Combustibles by putting them in a bus to meet their Bombay fans (Bhatia 2015, 80). 5 For more reading on this subject, see Gerry Farrell’s Indian Music and the West (1997). 6 Orientalism is the Western world’s imitation or depiction of aspects of the Eastern world often from a superior attitude. See Edward Said. 7 This sentiment still remains, as evidenced by interviews with the Rajasthani Manganiyar musicians who appreciate that non-​Indian audiences dance to their music and are excited by it, but are ultimately disappointed in the lack of depth that they witness at every concert (personal communication, Bhungar Khan and Chirag Jain, July 12, 2008). 8 See https://​​1001-​albums-​you-​must-​hear-​before-​you-​die-​2016

94  •  Popular Music in India 9 The honorific title of Ustad is used in various Muslim languages to refer to a great male artist or teacher. The term Pandit is the equivalent in Hindi. 10 This was also won by Rock Machine/​Indus Creed. 11 British Asian musician Jay Sean made his debut in 2003. He is considered part of the Asian Underground. Jay went on to sell 3 million copies of “Down” in the US, and become the first Asian solo artist to top the US Billboard Top 100. “Down” was also the seventh best-​selling song in the US in 2009. 12 See Wikipedia’s list of best-​selling albums by country, and other sources: https://​en.m.wikipedia. org/​wiki/​List_​of_​best-​selling_​albums_​by_​country 13 View at https://​​lifestyle/​music/​story/​thursday-​tunes-​bombay-​vikings-​neeraj-​ shridhar-​kishore-​kumar-​zaroorat-​hai-​kya-​soorat-​hai-​319023-​2016-​04-​20 14 View at https://​​watch?v=DleQPDP8Btg&t=45s 15 View Krsna, “Sellout,” at https://​​watch?v=MEeup4aqi1I 16 Currently, 80% of India’s popular music is derived from the film industry, leaving independent artists only 20% of the market.

Bibliography Anien, Tini Sara. 2016. “My Music Has Always Talked about My State of Mind.” Deccan Herald, October 25: https://​​content/​577544/​my-​music-​has-​always-​talked.html Asher, Nina. 1999. “Apache Indian’s Syncretic Music and the Re-​presentation of South Asian Identities: A Case Study of a Minority Artist.” Counterpoints, vol. 96. Sound Identities: Popular Music and the Cultural Politics of Education, pp. 195–​213. Bhatia, Sidharth. 2015. Indian Psychedelic: The Story of Rocking Generation. Noida, UP: Harper Collins India. Bhattacharya, Sumit. 2007. “Chak De’s Music Is Young, Peppy.” Rediff, August 2:​ movies/​2007/​aug/​02chak.htm Blocker, Jack S., David M. Fahey, and Ian R.Tyrrell, 2003. Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-​CLIO, p. 310. Blush. 2017. “The Forgotten Jazz Pioneer, Lucila Pacheco.” Blush, June 14:​cheers/​ forgotten-​jazz-​pioneer-​lucila-​pacheco Booth, Gregory D. and Bradley Shope. 2013. More than Bollywood: Studies in Indian Popular Music. New York: Oxford University Press. Chintamani, Gautam. 2013. “The Biggest Problem with Yo Yo Honey Singh: Bollywood’s Embrace of Him.” Showsha, January 13:  https://​​entertainment/​the-​biggest-​problem-​with-​ yo-​yo-​honey-​singh-​bollywoods-​embrace-​of-​him-​574960.html Clayton, Martin. 1998. “ ‘You Can’t Fuse Yourself ’: Contemporary British-​Asian music and the musical expression of identity.” East European Meetings in Ethnomusicology 5, 73–​87. Divecha, Delnaz. 2019. “Celebrating Women’s Day with 8 Bollywood Songs for Women.” BookMyShow, March 8: https://​​entertainment/​womens-​day-​bollywood-​song/​69371 Economic Times. n.d. “Saregama Hindia Ltd.” Economic Times: https://​​ saregama-​india-​ltd/​infocompanyhistory/​companyid-​13704.cms Farrell, Gerry. 1988. “Reflecting Surfaces: The Use of Elements from Indian Music in Popular Music and Jazz.” Popular Music 7:2, 189–​205. Farrell, Gerry. 1997. Indian Music and the West. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fernandes, Naresh. 2012. Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age. New Delhi: Roli Books. Gemie, Sahrif and B. Ireland. 2018. The Hippie Trail: A History. New Delhi: Aleph Books. Gopinath, G. 1995. “Bombay, U. K., Yuba city”: Bhangra Music and the Engender-​ing of Diaspora. Diaspora, 4, 303–​321.

East–West Cross-cultures  •  95 Huq, Rupa. 1996. “ ‘Asian Kool? Bhangra and Beyond.’ Disorienting Rhythms.” In The Politics of the New South Asian Dance Music, edited by Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk, and Ashwani Sharma, pp. 61–​80. London: Zed Books. Kabir, Ananya Jahanara. 2004. “Musical Recall: Postmemory and the Punjabi Diaspora.” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 24, 172–​189. Kolhi, Shikha. 2018. “International Women’s Day:  15 Empowering Bollywood Songs So You Can Dance Your Way out of Misogyny.” PinkVilla, March 9:  https://​​lifestyle/​love-​ relationships/​international-​women-​s-​day-​15-​empowering-​bollywood-​songs-​so-​you-​can-​dance-​ your-​way-​out-​misogyny-​400447 Kvetko, Peter. 2009. “Private Music:  Individualism, Authenticity and Boundaries in the Bombay Music Industry.” In Popular Culture in a Globalized India, edited by K. Moti Gokulsing and Wimal Dissanayake. New York: Routledge. Lavezzoli, Peter. 2006. The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. New York: Continuum Press. Phuyal, Surendra. 2005. “Ethnic Nepali is ‘India’s Jazz King.’” eJazzNews, December 13:  https://​web.​web/​20101209210307/​http://​​modules.php?op=modload&name=News &file=article&sid=5456&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0 Radio and Music. 2014. “Contrabands Signs on Indie Artist, Rapper and Hip-​hop Musician –​KRSNA.” Radio and Music, October 15:​biz/​music/​artiste/​contrabands-​signs-​indieartist-​rapper-​and-​hip-​hop-​musician-​krsna Ruby, Ahmed Aqeel. 1992. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: A Living Legend, translated by Sajjad Haider Malik and Ahmed Aqeel Ruby. Lahore: Words of Wisdom. Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books. Sakata, Hiromi Lorraine. 1994. “The Sacred and the Profane: ‘Qawwali’ Represented in the Performances of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.” The World of Music 36:3, 86–​99. Sawhney, Isha Singh. 2016. “When Rap Revolts:  Punjab and Hip-​Hop.” Rolling Stones India, August 16: http://​​when-​rap-​revolts-​punjab-​hip-​hop/​ Sengupta, Somini. 2008. “Calcutta: Mocambo.” New York Times, August 28: https://​​ 2008/​08/​31/​travel/​31bites.html Sharma, Neha. 2008. “Hard Kaur.” Rolling Stone India, September 14:  http://​​ hard-​kaur/​ Sharma, Sanjay. 1996. “Noisy Asians or ‘Asian Noise?’” Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New South Asian Dance Music. Eds. Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma. London: Zed Books, pp. 32–​59. Shope, Bradley. 2016. American Popular Music in Britain’s Raj. Eastman Studies in Music. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press. Sify. 2007. “Chak De India (Music Review).” Sify, August 2:​movies/​chak-​de-​india-​ music-​review-​review-​bollywood-​pclwsEjdejfhj.html Singh, Yo Yo Honey. 2018. “Yo Yo Honey Singh –​Choot, Vol. 1, Translation into English.” Translated by Suvajit Sannigrahi. Musixmatch, September 9: https://​​lyrics/​Yo-​Yo-​Honey-​ Singh/​Choot-​Vol-​1/​translation/​english Virmani, Sneha. 2016. “100 Years and Loud.” Issuu, September 14:  https://​​snehavirmani/​ docs/​100_​years_​and_​loud



Indian Film Music: Aesthetics, Hybrids, and Representations

Indian film music, often referred to as Bollywood, is by far India’s most popular music genre and, next to classical music, the closest that India has in terms of a unified cultural sound. This chapter introduces the reader to the world of Indian film music, exploring composers, directors, playback singers, and the inner workings of the Indian film music industry. Examples include a look at several composers, their style, technique, and impact on the industry, and several film song analyses with regard to timbre, vocal style, instrumentation, and meaning. Emphasis on the relationship between sound and visual experience is also explored, such as the construction of meaning through picturization (the marriage of visuals and song) in terms of marginal representations (e.g. gender, LGBTQ+, caste, religion). The influence of song and dance picturizations on the culture writ large cannot be understated. Ultimately, the chapter stresses the complexity of film music’s relationship with, and hegemony over other genres, including its impact on national and regional music identity. The chapter summarizes film music’s ability to function as a flexible behemoth, incorporating the heterogeneity of regional music and styles to create a sound capable of global and national identification. The first Indian film I  ever saw was in 1997. I  was conducting my dissertation fieldwork in the desert state of Rajasthan, working in villages interviewing and recording religious songs and epic dramas about local deities. I lived in a small stone village house of three rooms along with eight other adults. There was no electricity or running water, as water is a precious, scarce commodity in this arid region. The household owned one scooter, which at the time was considered a family vehicle in India, easily accommodating three adults or a mom, dad, and two kids. Meals were simple, consisting of daal, a spicy lentil soup, and sabzi, a mixture of vegetables and spices, with roti, a handmade 96

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wheat flatbread to eat it with. Everything was made at the house, and even the wheat for the roti was ground by the women at home. We ate on the floor as there was no furniture save a couple of framed rope beds reserved for the elderly parents of the family. This living situation was highly typical for the region, and for most of rural India in general. One evening, I went to the local movie theater in town, more out of a desire to sit in the air conditioning since the temperature was regularly over 100°F every day. The film was Dil To Pagal Hai (The Heart Goes Crazy), a 1997 superhit romantic-​comedy film directed by Yash Chopra, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, and Karisma Kapoor. After watching about 45 minutes of the film, I walked out of the theater. The complete fantasy world I saw on screen bore no resemblance to what I was seeing in daily life. Elaborate costumes, spacious, pristine and pricey apartments with full amenities combined with the carefree, highly Westernized characters who appeared to be independently wealthy and pursuing their romantic desires, all jarred when compared to the reality of the everyday. It took me another three years to see a film after a student of mine introduced me to Dil Se (1998) by imitating the dancing and singing of the blockbuster song “Chaiya, Chaiya,” which is performed atop a moving train. Through her excitement, I understood the significant role that film played in people’s lives, and that the type of “escapist fare” that screen icon Raj Kapoor brought to the film industry is exactly the point.

Introduction to Indian Cinema Indian cinema is one of the largest film industries in the world, and one of the most culturally influential. Although it is often referred to as a single, monolithic entity comparable to Hollywood, it is actually a conglomeration of smaller, regional cinemas from across the country. When counting the number of films produced in India, therefore, regional language-​based cinemas are also included, Tollywood referring to Telugu cinema in Andhra Pradesh; Mollywood referring to Malayalam cinema in Kerala; Kollywood to the Tamil cinema of Tamil Nadu; and Sandalwood to Kannada cinema, of Karnataka. There’s even a Lollywood cinema from Lahore, Pakistan. Of the total number of films produced each year in India, roughly 43% of releases are Hindi language films from the Mumbai (formerly Bombay) film center known as Bollywood, while the remainder hail from these smaller regional cinemas. International films account for only 7% of all films screened, although this does not include streaming platforms (e.g. Netflix). Indian films are highly popular in India, of course, but are also exported throughout South Asia to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The films follow the audiences of India’s diaspora, and are also viewed in Canada, the UK, the US, Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, several countries in Africa (e.g. Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia), and throughout the Middle East, particularly Dubai, which has a large Indian workforce.1 These films are also popular in countries not directly related to India such as Russia, China and Korea, due to their family-​oriented narratives and entertaining song and dance numbers. Indian cinema is third in size after the US and China, but is the largest in terms of annual production output, with between 1,500 and 2,000 films released in 20 languages. In 2017 alone, for example, the number of films produced in India reached 1,986. India not only produces more films per year than the US, but it outsells the US every year in terms of number of box office tickets sold by almost twofold (3.6 billion tickets to Hollywood’s 2.6 billion) and is projected to grow annually by 11%. With the average

98  •  Popular Music in India Table 4.1  US and India film statistics, 2012

US India

# of Films Produced

# of Tickets Sold


476 1,602

1.36 bn 2.6 bn

$10.8 bn $1.6 bn

ticket cost ranging between 250 and 500 rupees in India ($3.50 and $7), however, box office revenue in India is far lower. India brings in $1.6 billion, whereas US revenue is almost seven times that. India is beginning to rectify this discrepancy through initiatives that will bring all Indian cinemas under one umbrella and connect it to global interests that will help maximize box office profits, which have lagged behind. Bollywood’s success in ticket sales did not go unnoticed by US media conglomerates. Disney, Viacom, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, and Sony Pictures entered the India film and media scene in the 2000s, allowing a significant shift of financing that impacted budgets, marketing, licensing, and adaptations, that put a dent in film plagiarism. This outside corporate financing was able to occur after neo-​liberalization, and after Bollywood was officially deemed an industry in 2001:  an attempt by the Indian government to curb the mafia financing that regularly occurred. Despite massive success elsewhere in the world, however, Disney and Warner Brothers did not ultimately succeed in India after their business models failed to work for the Indian public. Even though the Indian film industry is very much its own unique entity, Hollywood’s impact on the industry over time is unmistakable. Influence begins with the ubiquitous nickname of “Bollywood” a portmanteau of Bombay Hollywood, which was coined in the 1970s – a moniker which is controversial. Many dislike the term due to the implicit notion that Indian film is somehow inferior, derivative or dependent on Hollywood, and prefer the term “Hindi cinema.” Others, however, embrace the term specifically because it draws the comparison. For the remainder of this book, I will be using both Bollywood and Hindi cinema interchangeably. Hindi cinema has found direct and indirect inspiration from Hollywood. A majority of Bollywood films are inspired by the huge Busby Berkeley production numbers from the 1930s, action films in the 1970s and science fiction and CGI today. This is only the beginning of Hollywood’s influence, which extends to music (foreground and background), cinematography, production values, sound, technology, characters, and narratives. Hollywood directors, however, can also be cognizant of Indian cinema, and there are several Hollywood films that were inspired by Indian films such as Leap Year (2010) inspired by Jab We Met (2007), while Indian Cinema’s Darr (1993) inspired the 1996 hit Fear. Even though Hollywood is undoubtedly influential in shaping Bollywood, it is Bollywood’s own highly unique style, content, production values, and universal appeal that make its productions timelessly resonate with the Indian public.

Indian Cinema Represents Why is Indian cinema and its music so important? Indian cinema and music are deeply embedded in the culture, politics, and shaping of a nation. India became a new nation at the stroke of midnight, August 15, 1947, when the British Government responded to the negotiations of the Quit India Movement, and left India to its own rule, leaving an independent yet divided nation. At that moment, India split into the separate countries of

Indian Film Music  •  99 Table 4.2  Hollywood–​Bollywood inspirations Indian Films Inspired by Hollywood Indian Film

Hollywood Film

Sangharsh (1999) Mohabbatein (2000) Josh (2000) Jism (2003) Koī Mil Gaya (2003)

Silence of the Lambs (1991) Dead Poets Society (1989) West Side Story (1961) Body Heat (1981) E.T. the Extra-​Terrestrial (1982)

Hollywood films inspired by Indian films Jab We Met (2007) Darr (1993)

Leap Year (2010) Fear (1996)

East and West Pakistan (referred to as Partition). Prior to that, India was not unified, but rather a geographic landmass with a vast diversity of local governments, kingships, political, religious, ethnic, and linguistic systems, all loosely held together under the British Raj. Following Independence came a desire among some politicians and people to become a unified India. Nation building, however, is a difficult task, and Indian cinema, which had just come into its own, helped lead the search for symbols that would move this transition forward. Films made in the Hindi or Urdu languages would be understood by most people in the northern areas of India, while separate film industries in the south catered to those regional languages and areas. Indian cinema played a significant role in nation building by offering certain themes upon which both the film industry and the nation could rally behind. Such themes included rags to riches, honesty, nationalism, purity, virtue, romance, love, family, the strength of the mother, and religiosity. Most Indian film narratives are based around romance, tracking the relationship of a couple who eventually marry by the end of the film. If a film isn’t outright romance, there is usually a significant romantic component to it. The heterosexual couple, therefore, is the central pillar of the narrative, illustrating the traditional foundation for Indian family and society. As can be expected, a strong anti-​colonial sentiment played out in most films –​a feeling that laid the groundwork for many of the binary themes that emerged over the next decades. Below are are a few of the binaries that dominated Indian cinema even into the late 1990s. Although this is only a partial list, it is significant in that its themes permeated films and Indian society for decades, and offered perspectives for understanding foreigners, the role of women in Indian society, and modes of behavior. Many of these attributes express conservative Hindu values and cultural expectations, especially reflected in the ideals of the female/​mother characters. Film Songs as National Music As the most popular music in India, film music has a far reaching impact in society, and because of India’s regional diversity, film music is the closest thing India has to having a universal or national music. From the Hindi film industry, the widespread distribution network and Hindi-​Urdu language song lyrics mean that hundreds of millions of people have access to the music. As a result, the most popular songs that people know are from films  –​songs that have woven themselves into the cultural fabric of the nation, with

100  •  Popular Music in India Table 4.3  Dominant binary themes in Hindi cinema Riches Money Materiality/​Worldliness Urban Women outside Independent female Dismissing dharma (duty) Vamp West

Poverty Virtue Spirituality Rural Women inside Self-​sacrificing mother Upholding Dharma Chaste (female) East

older film songs holding a special place in the hearts of Indians. These songs, as Beaster-​ Jones notes, are from the Golden Age of Bollywood and have clear melodies that are not overshadowed by the accompaniment, with lyrics that feature the Urdu poetic tradition (2009, 433). Many of these are also known as “Evergreen” songs, likely to be sung by the playback singers featured above (Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, etc.). (See BeasterJones, 2009, for more on this.) Film songs also have the distinction of having been part of the Indian consciousness for so long, that similar to the idea of “folk” music, people often forget the songs they know are originally from films. Children’s songs, national songs, and anthems for various groups are often film songs –​a fact that I quickly discovered when searching for children’s songs in Hindi that everyone would know. For example, the song “Chandamama dur ke” (“Uncle Moon is Far Away”) from the film Vachan (Word) (1955), “Nani Teri Morni ko Mor Le Gaye” (“Grandmother, Your Peahens Have Been Taken by Peacocks”) from the 1960 film Masoom (The Innocent), or “Ichak Dana Bichak Dana Dane Upar” (“One Little Seed, Two Little Seeds”) from Shree 420 (Mr 420), are widely familiar children’s songs. Patriotic songs include “Aao Bachchon Tumhe Dikhayein Jhaanki Hindustan ki” (“Come Children, We’ll Show You a Glimpse of India”) from Jagriti (Awakening) (1954), and “Nanha Munna Rahi Hoon” (“I Am a Little Soldier”) from Son of India (1962), and although not used in a film, the composer C. Ramchandra composed the song “Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo” (“O, the People of My Country”), sung by Lata Mangeshkar, to commemorate the casualties of the Sino-​Indian War in a border conflict in 1962. Film songs that represent certain causes or groups, or have become anthems of one type or another, are also common For example,”Badal pe paon hai” (“My Feet Are in the Cloulds”), from Chak De India, was played at the victory of the girls’ hockey team. The song not only became an anthem for women’s empowerment, but almost became a national sports anthem. From the film Rockstar, “Naadaan Parindey” (“O Naive Bird”) is seen as a youth rock anthem with lyrics that are highly influenced by Urdu poetry (see Chapter 7). Gender and Hindi Film Hindi film is largely male-​centered in perspective, reinforcing heterosexual, monogamous marriage and patriarchal tradition. However, recently, films and songs are expanding to include songs from the female perspective and that inspire women. Some of the most powerful songs that are considered women’s anthems, encouraging women to accept themselves as they are. For example, “Hum to aise hain Bhaiya” (“We Are Like This, O You People”), from Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (Journey of a Woman) (2007),

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encourages women to be happy and enjoy their lives; “Masakali” (the name of a pigeon in the movie that symbolizes peace) from Delhi 6 (2009) informs women that it’s alright to have desires; “O Womaniya” (“O Woman”) from Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) encourages women to fight back and for equality with men; “Aali Re” from No one Killed Jessica (2011) and “Aye Bachchu” (“Hey You”) from Ghajini are from films with strong heroines that give women courage to be outspoken, own their anger, and fight back; “Jugni” (“Hey Girl,” also the name of a female firefly) from Queen (2014) celebrates all women; “Teri Jai Ho” (“May You Be Victorious” from Gulaab Gang (Pink Gang) (2014), concerns a female vigilante group and encourages women to rise up against the patriarchy. Additional films that resonate with women are Pink (2016), with its “Pink Anthem” and the film PK (2014), with its title theme song “Woman’s Day.”

“BADAL PE PAON HAIN” A CONTEMPORARY WOMEN’S ANTHEM “Badal Pe Paon Hain” (“My Feet are on the Clouds”) from 2007 Chak De! India (“Go for it! India”) is frequently mentioned as a song that speaks to women’s perspectives. Chak De! is a classic underdog sports film about a female hockey team that has to overcome sexual, ethnic, and religious bigotry and discrimination in order to compete in the World Cup. The film, however, also explores feminist ideas  –​not typically present in mainstream Indian films. The inspirational film song “Badal Pe Paon Hain” is considered a rallying cry for women all over India.2 The introduction is replete with electric guitar and Hammond organ, punctuated by female vocals on “oh, oh” and a rhythm track that imitates hand clapping, giving the impression that the women are in a group singing and clapping. The tempo is peppy and upbeat with solo electric guitar interludes, somewhat retro in feel, with a classic female lead playback singer (Hema Sardesai) backed up by a female chorus in an almost 1950s doo-​wop sound. The accompanying picturization features the women traveling from India to Australia for the World Cup match after having faced major obstacles in India in order to be taken seriously: I’ve tasted the skies, this has happened after a lot of prayers and hard-​work My scared heart is beating very fast, is it day or is it night? Since when did God start showering his benevolence upon me (“Badal pe Paon Hai,” excerpt) Critical reception of the song (and soundtrack) was mixed, with not everyone feeling the song’s inspiration. One critic bluntly dismisses the song outright as “chick rock” (Bhattacharya 2007), while in another unattributed review from sify. com in 2007, the song is disparaged and projected, quite erroneously, as a song that will fail to resonate: Hema Sardesai, who is quite selective when it comes to picking up a number to croon, gets a solo for herself in the form of “Badal Pe Paon Hai.” The number sounds like an advertisement jingle from beginning

102  •  Popular Music in India

till the end. The overall feel created is nothing different from countless such tunes which you have heard in jingles/​tracks that are created for the woman-​of-​today. This rhythmic tune with a western base is not bad but remains to be situational at best. (IndiaFM Chak De India 2007) However, the song was a huge hit from the beginning, and only became more meaningful as the years went by. It took the form of a women’s anthem and received rather extensive mention in song lists for International Women’s Day which occurs in March. The song topped or appeared on the list of dozens of websites of inspirational and empowering songs to celebrate Women’s Day. One site even noted that the list was to empower women to “dance your way out of misogyny” (Kohli 2018). Websites such as and Yash Raj Films (YRF) seem to be taking advantage of the current #MeToo Movement in India and women’s awareness by creating streaming music compilations of songs that might appeal to women. Two such collections are Spirit of Women (2016) featuring songs such as “Badal pe paon hai” (“My Feet are in the Clouds”) and Shades of Women (2017) with almost exactly the same list of tracks.3

Indian Cinema as Musical Cinema Almost all films produced in India may be considered a type of film musical, or films that use popular-​style songs and dialog to tell a story. Although estimates vary, over 95% of films in India are musicals, in the sense that they contain songs that are foregrounded in the film and are not just part of the background score. This one particular characteristic makes Indian cinema the largest and most influential producer and distributor of popular music in India. Currently, 80% of India’s popular music is derived from the film industry, leaving independent artists only 20% of the market. From the 1940s to the present, India’s popular music industry grew from within the film industry in a symbiotic relationship that still dominates all popular music in the country today. How does Hollywood compare to Bollywood in terms of number of film musicals produced? The 1930s and 1940s were the peak of Hollywood film musical production, with large-​scale productions, chorus lines filled with girls in feathers and sequins, elaborate choreography, and huge orchestras. Even in its heyday, however, the largest number of Hollywood musical films released in one year (1944) was a modest 72 compared with 96 in India for the same year. After that, the number of Hollywood film musicals decreased precipitously from the 1950s onward until their nadir in 1990 and 1992, when only five and four musical films were released respectively. In recent decades, only a handful of Hollywood films produced each year are considered “musicals,” with Disney producing most of them. Disney began its run of successful animated musicals in the 1990s, increasing the number of releases to between 15 and 20 musicals per year –​a number that pales in comparison to Indian cinema’s 1,600 films annually.

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JUST IMAGINE: FILM MUSIC VS. POP MUSIC What might a film-​dominated culture look like in the United States? For those growing up in a culture with an independent music industry that is separate from film, the following is hard to imagine. Let’s say that it’s 1961. The record stores are thriving as teenagers have enough income to buy records, and each home has a player on which to hear them. Jukeboxes keep the top hits a finger touch away in malt and soda shops, and radio is in its heyday, as cars have AM/​FM radios built in, and teenagers are beginning to have access to cars. Sock hops are primary social locations for meeting potential dating partners and furthering relationships. But, instead of hearing music like the Chubby Checker or Fats Domino, the music blasting out of speakers are songs from recent films such as “I Said It Then As I Said It Now” from Snow White and the Three Stooges, Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii,” “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, and “Maria” from Bernstein’s West Side Story, all released in movie form in 1961. By 1964, the Beatles wouldn’t have been successful in breaking into the mainstream market because of the dominance of film music, and would only receive little, if any, airplay. The rock revolution may have occurred elsewhere in the world, but in the US, only film songs would have access to mass distribution. Over the course of decades, these outside styles would eventually impact film music  –​with rock-​and pop-​influenced music changing film song sound, but independent artists would have to work for Hollywood to if they wanted to become known, composing film songs or playback singing. Let’s update this a bit more to the present day and imagine what we’d be listening to if film music dominated the airwaves. Certainly, the latest top hits from Disney such as “Let it Go” from Frozen (2013), “Remember Me” from Coco (2017), or other films such as “Rewrite the Stars” from The Greatest Showman (2017), would be top on the list in 2018, along with older hits from Moana (2016) and Pitch Perfect (2012). Songs from Broadway shows such as Hamilton would not be in the mainstream unless they were made into a film. Composer and lyricists that we would all know would be Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-​Lopez, who wrote both “Let it Go” and “Remember Me,” along with their singers Idina Menzel and Gael Garcia Bernal. With the advent of the internet of course, we would have access to more genres, but the influence of Hollywood would still dictate the majority of mainstream music. Similarly, the idea that there are groups of songs that we all know would also be dominated by Hollywood.

Playback Singing Playback singing began in the 1930s. Initially, Indian actors themselves sang on screen, but many actor-​singers moved, died, or returned to Pakistan in 1947 or post-​partition. Gradually, the practice of playback singing took hold, in which singers would pre-​record songs in the studio which would be played back for the actors who would lip-​synch to them

104  •  Popular Music in India

on screen. This practice found favor, gaining popularity as it allowed for actors to have greater freedom of movement and dancing on screen, as it freed them from the limitations of technology (microphones, etc.), which greatly impacted the creativity and importance of the picturization. It also enabled the use of highlighted specialized singers, which increased the quality of both singing and acting as it recognized the two talents as separate. A distinct playback singing style developed early on, rooted in classical training, and influenced by light-​classical styles such as ghazal, thumri, and devotional forms like bhajan. The timbre of female singers in these early years tended to be thin, childlike, and delicate, perceived as high in pitch. These aesthetic qualities expressed demureness, shyness, modesty, and innocence –​characteristics required of its heroines, as India built its middle class after Independence. For male singers, a baritone, smooth crooner and unadorned sound dominated, representing genteel civility, and versatility. Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar, two of Indian film’s greatest male playback singers, and Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhosle, were considered the standard bearers for the Golden Age classical singing style. Film Songs and the Moral Universe While it may seem that everyone is singing all of the time in Indian films, this is not the case. The melodramatic narratives create moral universes unto themselves, often with clear-​cut heroes and villains (Thomas 1995). The lead heroes and heroines sing as do their families and friends, engaging in songs that allowed them to explore an emotion through the organization of musical semiotics synchronized with language. The elaborate trappings of the song picturization extends the actors’ emotions with lavish backgrounds, fashion, and dancing, thereby becoming the platform for a wide range of expression that deepens the suspense, romance, and characters. Villains, on the other hand, are not allowed to sing. According to Hindu philosophy, music and the arts give one humanity. As a villain does not uphold the proper morals, these antagonists are denied the access to humanity that performing gives. Villains are, however, allowed to consume music, and are the main voyeurs and consumers of “item” numbers (see further discussion below). Villains often gaze at the “item” or dancing girl who is depicted as a sexualized object to be viewed and consumed. Villains rarely participate in religious festivals, holidays, or romantic or religious song picturizations. Below are several examples of villains consuming music. As is customary, in each example the villain is surrounded by either his lackeys or larger crowds, which are composed entirely of men: Film




Sholay (1975)

Gabbar Singh


Khalnayak (1993)

Ballu Balram Prasad

Shool (1999)

Bachhu Yadav

Omkara (2006)

Omkara Shukla/​gang

“Mehbooba, Mehbooba” “Choli ke piche kya hai” “Main Aae Hoon U.P. Bihar Lootne” “Beedi” and “Namak”

Madhuri Dixit Shilpa Shetty Bipasha Basu

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Film Songs and Media Distribution Despite it’s somewhat negative connotations, Film music was India’s popular music from early on. Film music was the predominant form of personal entertainment beginning in the late 1920s with the advent of inexpensive Japanese phonographs (Manuel 1988, 170; Ranade 1984a, 77). For most Indians, however, the main source for music consumption was radio, and All India Radio (AIR) in particular. Established in 1930, AIR is India’s national broadcaster and one of the largest radio networks in the world. It reached 99% of the Indian population, broadcasting news in 23 languages and 179 dialects. Shortly after Independence, in 1952, the Indian National Congress won a landslide victory in India’s first general election. B.V. Keskar –​a staunch Brahmin and classical Indian music purist  –​was appointed as Minister of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) and soon banned film music from the radio (Iyengar 2018). To his mind, Indian film songs were straying from their responsibility of instilling national pride in people. “The lyrics, aside from being in Urdu, were generally ‘erotic’,” writes radio historian David Lelyveld (1994, 114). In addition, there was a steady rise in the use of Western instruments and Western melodies in the songs, “which Keskar identified with a lower stage of human evolution.” Keskar’s idea of instrumentation included flute, tanpura, and sitar rather than Western instruments. Keskar’s perspective was not unusual at the time, as Western popular music was seen as anathema to Indian ideals, and would continue to be represented as such for decades. FILM SONGS AS A GAME: ANTAKSHARI The deep cultural impact of film songs is perhaps best exemplified in the game antakshari (“end letter”), a two-​team game that tests participants’ knowledge of film song lyrics. The goal of the game is for a team to sing song lyrics that begin with the letter ending the last syllable in the song that the opposing team (e.g. if the last letter of the word is “m” then the next song must begin with the letter “m”). The team that cannot remember any lyrics that begin with that letter loses. In traditional Indian households, the presence of an extended family means that there are always many family members around and available to play such games. I recall many evenings in my in-​law’s village home where we played for hours by lamplight. This is a typical “time-​pass” game that would occur during large family gatherings such as weddings, rituals, or long journeys on trains, etc. Radio Ceylon, which broadcasts from Sri Lanka, however, did play film music, despite its Western aesthetics. The music shows that were broadcast offered some of the most iconic moments in popular Indian music history as millions tuned in to the strong signal coming from Sri Lanka. The most music came to India through a show called Binaca Geetmala4 (literally “necklace of songs”), a countdown show of the latest film song hits, which broadcast every Wednesday (Morcom, 2007, Arnold 1991, Beaster-​Jones, 2015). Cited as the first Indian countdown show and also its most popular, Geetmala was aired from 1952 until 1988. The show’s incredible popularity gradually eroded the will of AIR, which eventually lifted the ban in 1957 (Iyengar, 2018). In 1957, AIR created the Vividh

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Bharati Service (VBS), which carried a blend of heritage and popular music and entertainment programming, to combat Radio Ceylon. VBS took over Binaca Geetmala in 1988, and it ran until 1994. By the 1970s and 1980s, cassette tapes dominated as India’s favorite format for music consumption, with devotional, folk, semi-​classical, and film songs from every region available on cassette. Indians relied on the cassette tape to listen to their favorite film songs, devotional songs, ghazal-​s, and folk music. The medium allowed recording to take place relatively inexpensively, and every district seemed to have its local musicians recording local religious and folk songs that were sold alongside huge companies such as T-​series, Saregama, Tips, and Sony Music India. Old media, or pre-​digital formats such as television, newspaper, radio, print advertising, and phonographs, reel to reel, 8-​track, cassette tapes, and any other analog form of recording and playback, dominated India well into the 1990s. As documented extensively by Manuel and others, India used the cassette tape to promote all types of music, from popular film to religious to folk. Cassette players were in every truck, rickshaw, bus, and car, with the latest film songs blasting out from moving vehicles. Many small towns and villages would advertise by broadcasting the latest film songs over loudspeakers on the streets. In the past 20 years, the shift to new media (digital forms or anything that has been encoded) caused India to bypass the CD and the digital download stage completely and go directly from cassette recordings to streaming. Hundreds of websites streaming Indian music of all types emerged almost overnight. (literally translates to “”), for example, covers music from over 12 different languages, plus categories that popularize types of music in a film such as the item number. Below are some of the general categories available. Almost all the categories are comprised of Bollywood film songs, while the Festival category includes Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and film songs for different occasions (Eid, Diwali, Holi, and Christmas).

The Anatomy of a Film Song Film songs have a life outside the cinema as India’s popular music, and have retained this title for over 70 years. As such, the films resonate significantly with India’s culture. Film song meaning is garnered from not only their lyrics, but the function that they play in the film’s context. In a similar manner, Hindi film songs provide richness to the narratives by fulfilling functions that go beyond dialog. As mentioned above, songs allow feelings to be heightened and expressed, and provide entertainment through spectacle. However, as opposed to being superfluous, they are deeply embedded in the storyline and enhance the narrative. They are a space for externalizing a character’s thoughts; the advancement of the narrative; the provision of new information; the manipulation of time and geography (for example, a single picturization may take place in different locations within the same locale or multiple cities, states, or even countries, also referred to as the “dream sequence”); lastly, picturizations can function to affect the future or past experiences, and even generate timelines for alternative narrative outcomes. Far from being “random” additions to the film, the situations in which songs occur are well-​worn and familiar to Indian audiences and are highly anticipated events for all of the reasons mentioned above in addition to their quite elaborate displays.

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Standard Film Song Formula Both Hollywood and Bollywood use formulas for many narratives, and Bollywood accompanies these narratives with songs that are also based on thematic and musical formula. Think of your typical 1950s romantic film or musical –​boy meets girl, falls in love, separates from girl, then reunites and marries girl. These categories, for the most part, have changed over time according to the needs and conventions of the films and their audiences. Old and Classical Bollywood songs typically contain the following: •• •• •• ••

​ e courtesan (tawaif) number (ghazal), or “item” number (see below, this chapter) Th ​Love/​romantic  songs ​Traditional/​folk/​devotional (bhajan, qawwali) ​Festival/​celebration (Holi, Diwali, wedding, birthday)

Current popular categories of songs include: •• •• •• ••

​ e item number (a dance number or Punjabi bhangra style) Th ​Love/​romantic  songs Wedding numbers/​party songs (Punjabi bhangra, EDM, hip-​hop) ​Traditional/​folk/​devotional (bhajan-​s, qawwali, Sufi, ghazal) (Punjabi, Bengali, Rajasthani, Bhojpuri, Malayalam, etc.)

These formula are relegated mainly to Hindi cinema, as in other film industries songs may be categorized differently. Tamil films, for example, contain melodious, slow songs for romantic lovers, peppy songs for faster dance numbers, songs influenced by Indian classical, folk, or Western music, songs of laborers or fisher folk, and dappanguttu songs, which are fast songs in 12/​8 time (Getter and Balasubramaniyan 2008, 116). SOUNDTRACK CLOSE-​UP: HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM, 1999 The film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (“I Have Given My Heart Away”) is a 1999 film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, with music by Ismail Darbar, and lyrics by Mehboob. Playback singers include Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik, Shankar Mahadevan (of Shankar–​Ehsaan–​Loy music director fame:  see Chapter  4) and Udit Narayan among others. The soundtrack includes 11 songs, three of which are folk songs or folk-​inspired. These folk songs include “Nimbura, Nimbura” (“Lemon, Lemon”) from Rajasthan, and “Dhol Taro Dhol Baje” which is a Gujarati number referring to playing the dhol (drum) and “Kai po che,” “I Have Cut,” that is sung during a kite-​flying game in which the strings are covered with glass shards to cut the opponent’s kite in the air, setting it free. The Hindustani classical song “Albela sajan,” and one devotional song, “Man Mohini,” which is inspired by Hindu bhajan, are also included. The rest are love songs “Chand Chupa Badal Mein,” “Aankhon ki Gustakhiyan” (“May the Trespasses Shown by These Eyes be Forgiven”), “Jhonka Hawa ka” (“Love Theme”), and “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” (“Straight from the Heart”) and “Tadap Tadap” (“Suffering”).

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Romance/​Love  Songs Think of the lyrics of most popular songs you know. Most likely, they are love songs. Similarly, romantic and love songs make up the majority of most Indian films, and tend to be the most popular songs with the longest life outside of a film. Love songs function in films in several ways –​as a first meeting or “glimpse” song where the lovers first see each other (or at least the male sees the female), a song in which they challenge or tease each other, and a song in which their love is declared for each other. Another song, the separation song, also happens as some obstacle interferes with their relationship, such as a parent or society or circumstance intervining in their love affair. These songs elicit a range of emotions (rasa) for the audience. The “Item” Number One of the methods of introducing sensuality into a film is through the “item” number. The item number features a female singer/​dancer performing in a nightclub, cabaret, disco or other entertainment-​type setting, either tempting the hero (Beaster-​Jones 2009, 428) or being consumed by the villain’s/​audience’s gaze with her performance. Although there is a backlash against such objectifying songs, the item numbers are some of the most popular songs in Hindi cinema. The item number is derivative of the mujra (see Chapter 1), where a highly trained dancer performs for audiences. In early film, the item number was performed by a heroine surrogate, but in more contemporary films, the heroine can take on this role. The item number female is typically scantily clad, and highly sensual. Item numbers can take on the traditional tones of a tawaif or a cabaret singer and dancer. Early on in films, according to Vanita (2017), the erotic aspects of the courtesan/​tawaif enters middle-​class domesticity, as the heroine begins to present herself in courtesan-​like ways, seducing the husband, and embodying a sense of sexuality as well. The item number can be in any energetic dance style, but more courtesan-​based item numbers retain the ghazal form in keeping with the mujra, while other item numbers take on folk overtones and specific sounds such as Punjabi bhangra. Even so, the item number still remains one of the most anticipated events of a film due to its high level of spectacle and eroticization. Old Bollywood iconic item numbers include “Pyar Kiya to Darna kya” (“Why Be Afraid of Love”) from the 1960 megahit Mughal-​e-​Azam, often called the greatest Indian film of all time. The song is performed in a classic mehfil gathering for the Mughal Emperor by the actress Madhubala, who is often referred to as the Marilyn Monroe of India. Other iconic courtesans are Rekha, who starred as Umrao Jaan, and Meena Kumari in Pakeezah. Contemporary versions include “Kajra Re” played by Aishwarya Rai (who also redid Umrao Jaan). Item numbers include Helen, a half-​British, half-​ Indian dancer in “Mehbooba, Mehbooba” from Sholay (Flames), Katrina Kaif in “Sheila ki Jawani” (“Youthful Sheila”) from Tees Maar Khan (Killer of Thirty) and in a reversal on gender roles, Shah Rukh Khan performs as one of the few male item number dances in “Dard-​e-​Disco” from Om Shanti Om (2007). In addition to Helen, other non-​Indian dancers include Czech-​born Yana Gupta in “Babjui Zara Dheere Chalo” (“Hey Mister, Walk Slowly”) from the 2003 film Dum (Guts) –​a dance inspired by Selma Hayek’s snake dance from Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).

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Picturizations Each film contains a background score and foreground songs. Like Hollywood, the background score occurs softly or beneath the dialog to heighten emotion and provide continuity for the narrative. Audiences usually pay little attention to background music but focus on the dialog. Indian films contain both types of music, but the most marketed and popular are the song sequences, also called picturizations. Picturizations marry the visuals (scenery, costumes, song and dance) in a spectacular combination. Each film contains between five and seven foregrounded picturizations. Foreground music in film is the music that people pay attention to, where the music is noticeably loud and central, and there is no dialog occurring. Foregrounded songs emerge from the world of the film (known as diegetic) where the actors appear to be singing the songs on screen as they would in a musical. The instruments, however, usually do not appear in the picturization and remain off screen, or are what is known as non-​diegetic. In Hindi film, the foreground songs comprise the soundtrack, and are a prominently featured, promoted, and distributed apart from the film. Most films have a music launch party about one month before the film’s release involving the actors, directors, promoters, and so forth. Picturizations have a life of their own due to digital/​cable television, with hit film picturizations featured on TV channels dedicated to playing them 24/​7. A single picturization or separate soundtrack can do the work of selling the film and bringing in large profits. Film picturizations are much more than a combination of visual and musical components, however. Actors lip-​synch to studio playback singers (see below, this chapter), while performing rigorous choreography and dance, and can change scenery, location, and even countries during a song. Picturizations are familiar locations of visual spectacles:  luscious backdrops, extravagant wealth, and especially numerous costume changes, many with very creative and colorful designs. Representational vs. Presentational Picturizations Other general categories of songs include those sung by the film’s primary couple who sing either in private or in larger, sometimes public groups (among villagers, family, friends), for example at weddings, folk, festivities, etc. Both private and public songs are representational in that the performers ignore the audience and sing to each other in the film world. Representational music draws the audience into the world of the film. In addition to being representational, the group numbers are participatory in nature. Participatory music has a low artist–​audience distinction. In other words, everyone is encouraged to participate on screen, and by proxy, in the audience. The folk numbers, wedding music, or festival music are available to all, on screen and off. The music accompanying these participatory songs is energetic and usually involves a full instrumentation, and as Turino notes, “dense textures and timbres are among the most common traits of participatory music” (Turino 2008, 44). In this case, the musical density is able to convey the illusion of listener participation, evoking traditional music styles such as the bhajan, qawwali, festival songs, etc. This particular type of song plays a significant role in life outside of the film world and is often used as the primary soundtrack for parties, wedding receptions, in nightclubs, and other social gatherings. Listeners can extend the on-​screen festivities from the film world to their own off-​screen lives, thereby imitating and indulging in the celluloid participatory moment for themselves.

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Another main type of song picturization is known as “presentational,” in which the performers on screen “break the fourth wall” and appear to directly address the film’s audience with their actions. This is typical of the Broadway musical, especially opening and closing all-​ensemble numbers where the cast faces the audience and sings to them. There is a high artist–​audience distinction in these numbers as the performers do not expect that on-​screen audiences will be joining in, nor are they inviting the off-​screen audience into their world. Instead, they present themselves as specialist performers who are highly rehearsed. In Hindi film, the main type of presentational song contains a main solo artist, such as the woman in the item number, or performances in a concert setting. Almost all presentational songs feature an audience on-​screen who are voyeurs. The typical narrative context for these numbers often involves a main protagonist who is either moved to sing or asked to sing at some type of social gathering such as a dinner party, nightclub, or school function with rehearsed acts. Examples of this include “Main Shayer To Nahin” (“I’m Not a Poet”) from the film Bobby (1973, with music by Laxmikant-​Pyarelal) in which Rishi Kapoor imagines his yet unmet beloved’s face (played by Dimple Kapadia) at his birthday party, and begins to express his feelings for her; or “Ruk Ja O Dil Diwane” (“Be Still, My Crazy Heart”) from DDLJ (1976), in which Shah Rukh Khan is at a European dinner theater and follows the evening’s entertainment (an opera singer) with his feelings for the heroine (Kajol). Presentational numbers in the Broadway/​Hollywood matrix appear as well. One notable example is the opening number of Dhoom 2,5 in which Hrithik Roshan dances in what is unmistakably an ensemble cast/​opening production number of the song “Dhoom,” something that is distinctly rare in Indian film. Song and Dance Spectacle Often the best known components of Hindi films are the song-​and-​dance sequences, which are sites of spectacle –​referring to an event being memorable because of its overall appearance. This fundamental convention is the source of much analysis, including positive and negative criticisms of the films. Most audiences derive pleasure from the heightened spectacle, despite the “interruptions” of song, intermission, and censorship. Film songs allow room for extravagant costuming, extensive choreography, and many more elements that contribute to its spectacle. Hollywood blockbusters rely on spectacle

Table 4.4  Presentational vs. representational picturization Presentational The performers recognize the audience by breaking the fourth wall Typical format for Hollywood or Broadway musical High artist–​audience distinction The item number in which the audience’s viewpoint is seen through the villain’s on-​screen gaze Representational A low artist–​audience distinction Performers do not address the audience Meaning is summoned by drawing the audience into the inner world of the film Actors creating a sense of the familial through a highly emotional display

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to entertain and amaze audiences. In Indian film, spectacle refers to CGI and other technical enhancements, as well as a variety of expressive elements in each film, such as singing, choreography, love and romance, fighting, violence, family melodrama, conflicts of caste, religion, and so forth. They are also known as masala films, masala referring to a mix of spices used in cooking, in that the films contain a little bit of everything in them, and that convention of aesthetics suits the Indian palette.

Overview of Film Music Eras Films from the early years were silent until 1931 when India’s first talkie came out Alam Ara (Light of the World). Although no copy of this film exists, Alam Ara was said to contain seven songs written by Firoz Shah Mistry and B.  Irani. It wasn’t until the late 1930s, when most theaters were fitted with the proper technology (projectors and soundproofing), that India’s indigenous industry took off, finally edging out American talkies that had dominated the movies up until that point. The Golden Age began in full swing with the production of talkies and song taking full advantage of sound. With India’s struggle for Independence and the violence of Partition taking place in 1947, the nation turned to films for entertainment and to find a direction. Indian cinema filled the role of nation building, offering the general themes that captured the imagination of society and filled a void in grasping the identity and possibilities of the new nation. Songs represented an idealism and moral compass for India, as the iconic couples fell in love and married over and over in each film. By early 1970s’ Classic Bollywood, the shine began to wear off the new nation, and greed, corruption, and other issues emerged. India went through the Indo-​Pakistan/​ Bangladesh Liberation wars of 1971 and the prime minister, Indira Gandhi declared a two-​year state of Emergency in which civil rights are curtailed. She was later assassinated by her own bodyguard. Indian cinema once again rose to the occasion with the Angry Young Man character, played most successfully by superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Love songs remained popular during this time, but Western clothes, instruments, and attitudes began to proliferate. By the early 1990s, India had enacted economic liberalization policies, which were effective in opening economic borders by deregulating industries, lowering taxes, and loosening restrictions on outside, international investment. The results were profound as they changed a once protectionist, socially oriented, state-​sponsored economic system into a private, competitive one. The influx of outside goods, technology, services, and ideas dramatically changed Indian society, its culture, art, film, and music. Film music as popular music, requires a closer a look at its aesthetic development, including technology, styles, instrumentation, and influences over time. Indian film music uses specific musical conventions that have helped establish it as the unique entity that it is, popularizing the songs and the films. Four musical conventions include borrowing elements from classical traditions (e.g. raga, form), the use of playback singing, the song and dance spectacle, and the significance of the picturization for the song. All four existed from the earliest stages of film and have changed extensively over the phases of Bollywood to reflect changing aesthetics, technology, cultural expectations, and musical sensibilities. In this section, song analyses will illustrate the differences in film music over the Golden, Classic, and New Ages in terms of these of elements.

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Indian film is typically divided into four distinct phases reflecting the developments in the film industry and the social and political mood of the time. Each era is dominated by its own group of directors, actors, music directors, and film song styles –​all with a different role to play in service of the still relatively young nation. Age


Film Song Example

Cultural Context

Early years Silent Age/​ talkies




Old Bollywood



“Mera Joota Hai Japani” “Yeh Dosti”

Indian films eclipse foreign Nation building

Late old 1970s–​1980s Bollywood New Bollywood 1990s–​present “Satrangi Re”



Disillusionment Neo-​ liberalization

Table 4.5  20th-​century film and media milestones and eras Early Indian Film (1910s–​1940s) 1913 Raja Harischandra 1931 Alam Ara Golden Age of Indian Film (1940s–​1960s) 1942 “Naachu ya Gade” from Kiti Hasaal 1947 Independence of India 1948 “Dil mere Toda” from Majboor Era of Raj Kapoor (producer, director, actor) 1951 Awaara 1953 Filmfare Awards introduced 1954 National Film Awards introduced 1955 Shri 420

First silent film First sound film Lata Mangeshkar’s first song Lata Mangeshkar’s first hit

Classic Age of Indian film (1970s–​1980s) 1970s Masala films became relevant 1971 India–​Pakistan War 1975–​1977 State of emergency in India 1975 Films Sholay and Deewar –​rise of the Angry Young Man trope 1984 Assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi New Bollywood (1990s–​) 1991 Neo-​liberalization 1992 Mani Ratnam’s film Roja 1995 Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) 2007 3 Idiots

Era of A. R. Rahman begins

Indian Film Music  •  113

Aesthetics in the Golden and Classic Ages Golden and Classical Ages film music share many musical similarities, such as being known for its eclectic instrumentation and large orchestras, dominated by the string sections, woodwind, and brass. Golden and Classic Bollywood songs contain three distinct layers –​a melody, a rhythm section (drum set, conga drums, bongos, tabla, folk drums (e.g. dhol, dholak)) and an orchestra. The female singer’s vocal timbre is light, clear, and perceived as high, while the male’s is a crooner style, mellow and smooth. Many of the Golden and Classic Age film music directors and playback singers were trained in Indian classical music, in either instrumental or vocal music or both. Others, however, trained in semi-​classical forms such as ghazal, or Sufi songs, or studied film songs by other film composers, and were highly familiar with Western music. Music directors such as S. D. Burman (1906–​75) studied voice, sarangī, and sarod; Naushad (1919–​2006) studied Hindustani classical music; while Khayyam (1927), whose career spanned four decades, trained under Baba Chisti, a Punjabi music director, composer, and founder of Pakistani film music. Playback singers such as Manna Dey (1919–​2013), known for having one of the most flexible voices in Hindi cinema, and Naushad were classically trained and credited with enriching Indian classical music in films.6 Many of these film music directors were also highly influenced by Western genres. Maharashtra-​born C.  Ramachandra (1918–​1982) was influenced by big band jazz musician Benny Goodman, and was inspired to add saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, harmonica, and other instruments to his soundtracks. The song “Shola jo Bhadke” (“When a Fireball Erupts, My Heart is Racing”), sung by Lata Mangeshkar and C. Ramachandra himself, from the 1951 film Albela, contains mandolin and bongo components, with prominent clarinets playing in thirds reminiscent of the big band sound. Western-​trained musicians from Goa, the former Portuguese colony in India south of Mumbai, also found work in the film studios. They brought with them Western classical techniques, sounds, and sensibilities influencing the film song process as well. These were Goans and Anglo-​Indians of Portuguese and mixed ethnic background who had been employed in a vibrant live music popular culture. This music culture dated back to the minstrelsy and Vaudeville that reached India soon after the mid-​19th century (Fernandes 2012). Musicians in Mumbai’s film studios, who hailed from Christian Goan and Parsi communities among others, worked in the new sound films of the 1930s onward, as well as the recording companies such as HMV (Booth 2008, 52). Other musicians came to Mumbai from cities and towns all over India, particularly from the jazz community. Drinking in post-​Partition India was frowned upon, and musicians sought other lines of work as colonial nightlife dwindled after the British left (Booth 2008, 122). African-​American jazz musicians were popular in Mumbai in the 1930s, but by the 1940s had fallen out of favor, leaving room for Goan and other jazz musicians to create their own unique style. (Booth 2008, 143; Shope 2007). Chic Chocolate, a Goan jazz trumpeter influenced by Louis Armstrong, for example, introduced instruments such as the trombone, xylophone, and saxophone (Arnold 1988, 182). Chic Chocolate’s jazz sound was imitated throughout the 1960s and 1970s films, and he was cited as encouraging the instrumental sections that occur during the interludes, giving film songs their jazz-​like  feel.7

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A NOTE ON WESTERNIZATION While it may seem that Indian film songs have become increasingly Westernized over the decades, it is critical to understand that “Western” is relative in the context of music and its association with India over the years. As mentioned in Chapter 3, jazz was part of India’s social music scene for decades, bringing all of the musical idioms associated with it. Training in Western classical music from the British era was also available (see Chapter 6). As Booth mentions, there was a desire among some music composers to have their film songs sound more like symphonies, hence the lush strings and large orchestras, but Western and Indian fusion was not the goal for all (2008, 263). Orchestras swelled to their largest numbers during Bollywood’s Classic years in the 1970s, although the size of the film studio orchestra varied with the director, as did the needs of the narrative and the musical style. As the example of “Yeh Shaam Mastani” illustrates, although violins dominated the overall sound, the voices of other instruments such as sax, accordion, clarinet, various guitars, and so forth, have their moments as well. Another example of this song style mentioned earlier is “Main Shayar To Nahin” (“I’m Not a Poet”) with music by Laxmikant-​Pyarelal from the 1973 film Bobby. The song’s accompaniment contains distinct instrumental styles, including a full Latin section, a large string orchestra, and a mandolin at the forefront taking most of the interludes and inserting short melodic responses to the vocalist’s phrases. Throughout this era, musicians experimented greatly with early electronic instruments, with directors such as R. D. Burman fond of incorporating interesting and exotic sounds into his soundprint, impressing audiences and musicians alike. Kesri Lord was one such musician in the Bollywood orchestra who toyed with early synthesizers, oscillators, echos, building custom-​made synthesizers and smuggling in equipment from abroad whenever possible. He owned the first Minimoog in India, which was used in many of R. D. Burman’s soundtracks. Not all experimentation was well received however, as in “Dhanno ki aankhon mein raat ka surma” from the film Kitaab (Book),8 where a guitar was hooked to a flanger to create phase shifts (Lobo 2016). By the mid-​1970s, both the songs and picturizations included Western musical influences and styles, continuing the trend in eclectic instrumentation. Harmony, particularly functional harmony, became common. Jazz, Latin, disco, rock, and other genres continued to be fused with the Hindi film sound. Instruments were used in interesting ways and might feature an array of world drums/​rhythms, and other instruments. One decidedly non-​indigenously Indian feature of film songs is that the song’s form (in which the refrain, verse, interludes, etc., often juxtaposed completely different instrumentation. This style is very much borrowed from jazz where a variety of instruments are featured in each song, and one instrument in particular is featured in each interlude (e.g. strings, saxophone, shehnai). One of the most iconic films of the disillusioned Angry Young Man eras of Bollywood, was Sholay (Flames) (1975). The film depicts the lifelong friendship of two men, and their adventures in and out of trouble with the law. Music director R. D. Burman’s soundtrack is one of the most popular in Indian film history. In the song “Yeh Dosti hum

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nahin torenge” (“The Bonds of Friendship Will Never Break”),9 for example, each of the interludes highlights a different instrument. The song accompaniment contains several electronic instruments (bass and guitars), a range of percussion (congas, guiro), and a prominent banjo and harmonica. The interlude instrumentation alternates a jazz trumpet with harmonica, electric guitars, and even whistling. The song is lip-​synced by actors Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan, and is a bit unusual in that it makes use of banjo and synthesizer adding distorted, alien-​like sound effects when called for in the on-​screen action. It also contains some vocal harmony, which was not very common at that time. Vocal harmony is not part of Indian classical music but the use of harmony in film songs is more common today. For most of the Golden Age and part of the Classic, chordal harmony in the accompaniments did not follow typical Western harmonic progressions but usually just supported the melody (Manuel 1988, 168). In “Yeh Dosti,” however, “the song has a clear I-​IV-​V progression in the mukhra, and an I-​V progression in the antaras” (Beaster-​Jones 2013, 112). In post-​liberalized India, however, the use of functional harmony is a film song staple. Raga-​s play a large role in establishing meaning in film songs as they refer to culturally familiar, extra-musical connotations in order to heighten the audience’s emotional response. Hollywood film scores rely heavily on musical codes to engage the audience and enhance their mood. Major or minor melodies and rhythms aroha elicit certain types of responses, as does instrumentation, such as unified soaring strings or powerful brass. Indians respond to melodies, even those based loosely on a raga, which often recur in different film settings that serve to reinforce their meaning. For example, a raga may have close connections to the narrative of the film such as seasons, festivals, etc. The springtime Raga Basant is usually connected to songs having to do with spring, or like the monsoon Raga Megh Malhar. Raga Megh Malhar is the basis for the film song “Ghanan Ghanan” (“Clouds are Thundering”) in the 2001 blockbuster Lagaan (Taxation) with music by A. R. Rahman, in which the villagers rejoice at the gathering rain clouds. Other raga-​s are less directly correlated to the lyrics or film. “Mera Joota Hai Japani” (“My Shoes are Japanese”) from Shri 420 (The Gentleman Cheat) (1955) by musical directors Shankar and Jaikishan, is in the morning Raga Bhairavi, which is the Phrygian mode and the most used raga in Hindi film songs. It is important to note Morcom’s observation that even those composers who used raga extensively in their work would often utilize non-​raga tones, chromaticism, tritones, and diminished sevenths (Morcom 2007). THE FILM SONG’S FLEXIBILITY Film songs or “filmi-​git” are highly eclectic, and are composed in different styles and idioms that borrow from various Indian or international music, including instruments, vocal styles, melodies and rhythms such as the tango, salsa, boogie-​ woogie, jazz, bhajan, classical, etc. This fluidity and the fact that Bollywood music is not an actual genre of music mean that the industry is free to borrow from other musics. The result is that musical genres with identities outside that of the film world, such as bhajan-​s and qawwali-​s are altered from their more authentic forms and standardized to become filmi-​git, e.g. filmi-​bhajan, filmi-​folk, and filmi-​qawwali.

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Beaster-​Jones discusses the process by which Hindi film composers adopt the latest styles for use in film, ultimately absorbing the genre into the mainstream film song industry (Beaster-​Jones 2015, 161–​162). The result is the hyphenated “filmi-​genre,” which litters the industry’s music. One way in which film songs are not flexible, however, is that are relatively short. Whereas qawwali can be an open-​ended form with no definite number of verses, lasting up to 15 or 20 minutes, film songs typically last four to five minutes. Film songs contain a more rigid structure in which the length, form and any improvisation are pre-​planned. Even where the film includes a concert setting, there is no need for musicians in a film to respond to the on-​screen audience’s needs or desires as might happen in a concert situation, as the audience is really the film audience and not whatever audience is in the film. FILMI-​FOLK An example of filmi-​folk is the song “Nimbura, Nimbura” (“Lemon, Lemon”) from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Straight from the Heart, music by Ismail Darbar, 1999), which was a Rajasthani folk song sung by the Manganiyars long before the film’s release (see Chapter 2). The widespread release and popularity of this film (and song) is a source of some consternation among Manganiyars, as some audiences assume the traditional group has borrowed from Bollywood instead of the other way around. Although film music composers borrow extensively from other genres, musical treatment of the songs varies considerably from the original. Most of these borrowed songs are altered and given a standardized film song treatment, meaning the folk ghazal-​s, qawwali, bhajan-​s, and so on, differ from their original form to conform to the aesthetics of a filmi-​git. The original folk Manganiyar version song of “Nimbura Nimbura” for example, begins with an alap with couplets over a drone. A  moderately-paced Punjabi chaal rhythm (see Chapter 2) enters, and the song then launches into the refrain, stuffed with vocal ornamentation and melismas. Accompaniment includes traditional dholak, khartal, and harmonium. The tempo begins gradually to increase in speed. There are only a few short interludes as the vocalists rush to continue the song with improvisational passages. As the song ends, the tempo winds down dramatically. The film version of the song begins with Manganiyar-​style vocalization on “nimbura” and also includes typical background singers, male and female, trading off singing “oh.” The accompaniment contains dhol and shehnai, Rajasthani instruments, but not ones typically used by Manganiyar. The rhythm is more akin to Punjabi bhangra than Rajasthani, although the two are closely related. Also included are flute, santoor, and a clacking idiophone like a khartal. Playback singer Krishna Krishnamurthy begins with a version of the traditional refrain, but one that is highly simplified and devoid of ornamentation. Most significant are the extensive interludes between verses, in which most of the choreography occurs. Two male/​female groups take turns alternating vocalizations and dancing

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and include bol-​s or “words” that indicate the rhythms used in Indian classical dance forms such as kathak. Such inclusion is not found among folk musicians but is part of the narrative of the story introduced to tie the song in with the background of the lead heroine, Nandini, played by Aishwarya Rai, who is the daughter of a classical musician. Playback Singers Many of the early playback singers dominated both the Golden and Classic Ages continuing the timbre and their unique soundprint. Singers such as Mukesh, Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Geeta Dutt, and Lata Mangeshkar spanned decades of films beginning after Partition and becoming the voices of India. The division of India post-​partition created not only a national divide, but a cultural and artistic one as well. As Muslims left for Pakistan, their participation and influence on the film industry decreased. Playback singing was relieved of its “Muslim” sound, and replaced with a Hindu one, and Lata also represented that sound. These singers made their living almost exclusively from playback singing, but occasionally promoted their work on albums released independently based on their Bollywood fame. The most popular way of marketing singers of this Golden Age was to put their film or independent songs into collections grouped by genre such as filmi-​bhajan, filmi-​qawwali, filmi-​ghazal, which were hybrid genres that were popular during these decades. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle worked in the industry for decades in tandem, playing off each other as the good girl/​bad girl voices of Indian film. The result came from Lata’s early success singing for lead heroines, while Asha sang for the other female characters such as vamps, dancers, etc. Asha’s sultry and more sensual voice paired well with cabaret singers, dancers, and other (e.g. less than pure) such as Helen, a dancer-​ actress popular in the 1970s.

Figure 4.1  Playback singer Mohammad Rafi Source: India Post, Government of India [GODL-​India]

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Figure 4.2  Playback singer Lata Mangeshkar Source: LataRamdas.jpg: Ilovemuppets [CC BY-​SA 4.0] (https://​​wiki/​File:Lata_​ Mangeshkar_​black-​and-​white.jpg)

LATA MANGESHKAR: INDIA’S QUEEN OF PLAYBACK SINGING Born in Goa in 1927, of Marathi parents, Lata Mangeshkar’s voice became the iconic sound of Indian film songs for most of her life. As a child, she studied Deenanath Mangeshkar, her Hindustani-​classically trained father. By the early 1940s, a young Lata Mangeshkar, who had family ties with the newly emerging film industry, began recording playback songs in the studio. Her voice dominated Hindi film from the 1940s until the late 1980s, covering both the Golden Age and Classic Age of cinema. Lata’s voice became synonymous with the ideal female, with a singing aesthetic that influenced every female playback singer in the industry. In a post-​independence India, the nation required direction to guide new roles and identities as it undertook the task of nation building. Lata helped shape the female ideal by embodying a desexualized, pure and unadorned voice that singularly represented Bollywood’s heroines. Lata was listed in Guinness World Records for most songs recorded although the number of playback songs cited (25,000) was disputed by Mohammad Rafi as being fewer than he recorded. Lata went on to receive the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honor in 2001, and was awarded numerous national and international awards including the French Legion of Honour Officer. Her vocal legacy and influence continue in the voices of playback singers today. Mera Joota Hai Japani My shoes are Japanese Main Pantaloon Englishtani My pants are English Sir pe lal topi Russi On my head is a Russian hat

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Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani But my heart belongs to Hindustan (India). (“Mera Joota Hai Japani,” from “My Shoes are Japanese,” refrain) FILM SONG ANALYSIS OF “MERA JOOTA HAI JAPANI” (“MY SHOES ARE JAPANESE”) Shree 420 is a “rags to riches” movie, which begins with the protagonist, played by Raj Kapoor, on foot making his way from a village to the big city of Bombay to seek his fortune. Along the way, he sings “Mera Joota hai Japani” an iconic and nationalist song, recognized as a patriotic number that represents the new nation of India and its ability to be independent and self-​sustaining despite any outside global forces, which are represented by different items of clothing (Nandy 1998). The song is in duple time (similar to a 2/​4 marching meter), and begins with an introduction and the song’s refrain, interlude, verse, refrain, interlude, verse, etc. As with in the classical tradition, the chorus or refrain (sthayi) is lower in pitch, and the verse is higher (antara), and there is a shift of mode to a more “major”-​ sounding section before reverting back to the “minor”-​sounding Bhairavi. The accompaniment is in a strumming style (also referred to as a broken chord style originating in the cakewalk) with an “um-​pah” feel played on piano (in this case G, D, G, D, or scale degrees 1, 5, 1, 5 alternating in the bass with a chord in the mid-​ range similar to ragtime). Despite the use of the two pitches 1, 5 in the bass, there are no chord progressions to speak of in the same manner as chord-​driven popular songs with which we are most familiar. G, D, which indicates the I chord (G, B, D), is followed by an alternating of F, C, which is a VII chord referencing the mixolydian mode and alternates between the two chords in a very modal fashion, akin to early polyphony. The introductory melody is played on xylophone and woodwinds above an accompaniment, and on the repeat of that melody, a secondary melody played by the strings interweaves throughout. Percussion consists of a tambourine in a repeated eighth-​eighth-​quarter rhythm and a dholak drum emphasizing the first and second beats. When the singing begins, only the lower percussion and piano parts continue until the words “sir pe lal topi Russi, phir bhi dil hai Hindustani,” “on my head is a Russian hat, but my heart belongs to Hindustan,” where the strings play the melody an octave above the singer to reinforce and emphasize the line. The tambourine is incredibly prominent, something we don’t usually hear so prominently in songs. It also provides transitional moments with vigorous shakes that are almost like a sound effect, and plays throughout.10 The xylophone also performs trills up an octave and repeats them an octave lower on the verses, which creates a bit of word painting when it comes to the verse stating “upar niche, niche upar,” or “up, down, down, up.” The juxtaposition of raga, modal-​based chordal accompaniment in a ragtime style, Western instruments, and refrain–​interlude–​verse form, is the perfect example of early Hindi film music. The music would be familiar enough to Indians and non-​Indians in its presentation, and indeed, this song became a huge hit in Russia at the time. This type of song is what Keshkar would deem too Western, and it is why film music was banned from AIR.

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Film Song Form The typical song form for Golden and Classic films starts with a refrain or chorus that alternates with verses. This is quite different from popular songs that we are used to, which typically begin with the verse and then save the chorus for later in the song. The reason for this form is rooted in the sthayi and antara from Chapter 2, or what Beaster-​ Jones refers to as the mukhra-​antara form (2015, 33–​34). The sthayi is the most repeated section of music in classical and semi-​classical genres and is the most prominent. In addition, there is often a vocal introduction in film songs, again left over from the classical traditions: film songs loosely borrow the idea of an introduction (recall the alap of classical form or naghma of qawwali). For example, in the Kishore Kumar song “Yeh Shaam Mastani” (“This Intoxicating Evening”), a brief introduction contains a rising string passage followed by one stanza of the mukhra performed by whistling interspersed with vocables (“hey” and “hum”). The refrain or mukhra is played twice at the beginning with words, followed by verse 1, chorus, interlude, verse 2, refrain, longer interlude with saxophone and electric guitar, verse 3, then chorus, finally ending with whistling. The emphasis here is still on the melody and less on the rhythm, as in the classical tradition. FILM SONG FORM “YEH SHAAM MASTANI” (“THIS INTOXICATING EVENING”) MUKHRA (REFRAIN) This lively evening, it intoxicates me A string pulls me, pulls me towards you (2x) [Very brief instrumental interlude of 24 beats with vocal “ooo’s”] ANTARA 1 (VERSE 1) You keep away from me, never come to me No thirst (of lust) touches your lips It seems that you really are drinking poison, but laughing while doing it MUKHRA (REFRAIN) This lively evening… [Longer instrumental interlude of 32 beats with strings dominating] ANTARA 2 (VERSE 2) When I talk to you, why do you stop me Your sweet stare, why does it reprimand me Your shyness, your delicacy, I swear it leaves me tongue-​tied

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MUKHRA (REFRAIN) This lively evening… (1x) [Longest instrumental interlude –​48 beats –​with accordion, sax, electric guitar] ANTARA 3 (VERSE 3) Like a sulking destiny, You are silent, silent like a picture But your stare keeps calling me towards you. STHAYI (REFRAIN) This lively evening…(1x) CODA [Instrumental refrain with whistling] (From the film Kati Patang, The Severed Kite, 1970)11

R. D. BURMAN, MUSIC DIRECTOR: THE KING OF BOLLYWOOD MUSIC Rahul Dev Burman was one of the most influential and prolific film composers of the Classic Bollywood Age with over 330 films to his name. Growing up in Calcutta, R. D. Burman went into music under the tutelage of his father, S. D. Burman, one of the greatest film composers of Bengali films and Golden Age of Bollywood. R. D. Burman became familiar with Western music from an early age, listening to jazz, Cuban, big band, South American, and Eastern and Western European music. All of these styles are evident in his scores and instrumentation, which was highly eclectic. His studio musicians played strings –​sitar, violin, cello, santoor, guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, sarod; percussion –​xylophone, vibraphone, drum set, dhol, dholak, pakhawaj, piano, conga, bongos; and wind instruments  –​flute, mouth organ, sax, trombone, trumpet, shehnai, organ as well as keyboards. R. D.  Burman used creativity and technology in his background and foreground scores. One of his most famous films, Sholay (Flames) (1975), (see earlier in chapter) was dubbed the “film of the millennium” by the BBC in 1999. Directed by Ramesh Sippy and based on The Magnificent Seven with an all-​star cast, R. D. Burman’s music captured the intensity of key moments in the film with innovative sounds rather than music. In the the film’s most famous scene, called “Kitne aadmi the?” (“How Many Men Were There?”), the villain paces slowly on a rock ridge, dragging a belt. The only sounds from the film world are the click of his heels on the stone, and the clanking metal buckle from his belt. The background score is sparse, consisting of a plaintive wailing sound created by cello, organ, and hydrophone (a microphone under water) and a tape loop.

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In one of the film’s hit songs, “Mehbooba, Mehbooba”, R. D. Burman himself does the playback singing for this item number, featuring dancer Helen performing at a fireside camp for the villain and his gang. The song opens with air being blown into half-​filled beer bottles and includes a madal (a Nepali double-​headed barrel drum), a rabab (a lute-​like instrument from central Afghanistan), and a dholak (another double-​headed barrel drum).

Film Music Post-​1990 India’s most recent and most dramatic set of reforms, known as liberalization, concerned an overhaul of its economic policy following the Nehru years after Independence. The 1991 reforms were instituted by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and his finance minister Manmohan Singh,12 who reduced tariffs and interest rates, encouraged private investment, and broke the state’s monopoly on businesses in India, which were mired in bureaucracy. Prior to 1991, the state, under a highly centralized government, controlled businesses to the point of setting prices and approving what the businesses could sell. The most significant result of liberalization was a huge spike in privatization, in which investors, corporations, and partnerships from outside of India could participate. In the almost three decades since liberalisation was introduced, India’s economy is almost unrecognizable. Gone are the queues for gas and other government-​rationed items. In came foreign investment, business, foods, consumer goods, and sounds. Fast food restaurants arrived –​from McDonald’s (1996), to KFC (1995), Domino’s and Pizza Hut (1996), and latecomer Dunkin’ Donuts (2011), altering their menus to fit a vegetarian and non-​beef eating clientele. The upside was that entrepreneurship and private companies soared, while the downside was that foreign companies, with decades of marketing savvy and catering for international tastes, often nudged out Indian companies. This was exactly the fear of the pre-​liberalization socialist-​minded national protectionists. For example, Nirula’s, India’s first fast food chain established in 1977, served Western fare such as pizza and ice cream as well as fast food versions of Indian cuisine such as chicken curry and naan. By the late 2000s, however, Nirula’s popularity waned significantly in the shadow of McDonald’s, KFC, Domino’s, Starbucks and others who “Indianized” their menus, adapting to local tastes while keeping enough Western influence to attract India’s middle class (Rai, 2015).13 Domino’s created a “Taco Indiana” dish that was inspired by kebabs and parathas in North India, while in South India, they created a spicy raw banana pizza. The ad for the Taco Indiana features a sister telling her brother that she is just like the new food item –​Western on the outside and Indian on the inside.14 I draw attention to Western fast food chains entering India to create a parallel with music. Although the parallel is limited, the flexibility and adaptations that must occur in the cross-​cultural translation of material cultures like food or music are applicable here. What are the musical ingredients that are palatable in India? Where are the lines negotiated, and where are they blurred?

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New Bollywood (1990s–​Present) New Bollywood refers to films made after 1990s neo-​liberalization that reflect the very different direction in which India was heading. How did Indians see their culture looking in the new economic era? All films reflect on the culture in which they are created, and at least part of this answer concerned a turning away from the direction of earlier decades and towards a focus on social films and family life. Hum Apke Hai Kaun (Who Am I to You) (1993), is a prime example of a film that brought Indian cinema into the family social drama realm as well as into the multi-​ star-​cast blockbuster era. Similarly, Kabhi Khushi, Kabhie Gham (Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Sad) (2001) is an epic family drama with an all-​star cast about negotiating family, living abroad, and love vs. arranged marriage as is the mega hit Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Braveheart Takes the Bride, often referred to as DDLJ) (1996). DDLJ depicts two non-​resident Indian protagonists who fall in love on a trip to Europe. It centers on strong family relationships and tradition but addresses love marriage as well. Other contemporary themes address political tensions. Director Mani Ratnam’s trilogy is placed in three tense locations within the backdrop of war or terrorism. All three films contained music written by A.  R. Rahman; Roja (The Rose) (1992), set in the contentious state of Kashmir, Bombay (1995) concerns an inter-​religious marriage during the Hindu–​Muslim riots in 1993, and Dil Se (From the Heart) (1998) addresses local terrorism couched in a love story. Another set of influential films mark reflection on social change, all starring actor Amir Khan: Lagaan (Tax) in 2001, Rang De Basanti (Colour it Saffron) in 2006, which concerns the political awakening of a group of college graduates after the death of their friend, and Tare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth) (2007) on the issues of society’s understanding and treatment of people with dyslexia. The most impactful film featuring Amir Khan is 3 Idiots, the coming-​of-​age film about the social and parental pressures on college students that lead to suicide. PK (2014) is another film starring Amir Khan in which an outsider (from another planet) asks simple but probing questions about society to reveal complex philosophies about culture and the way Indians live, including revelations concerning religious charlatans.15

Two Streams of Music Post-​1990 By the 1990s, some of the best new, innovative, and tech-​savvy musicians entered the Indian film industry as composers, directors, and singers. Many came from outside the film world, or from advertising, and helped to turn the sonic landscape in an entirely new direction. They widely experimented with techniques, technology, and sounds. Music directors such as Shankar–​Ehsaan–​Loy (Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani, and Loy Mendosa, abbreviated as SEL), Pritam Chakraborty, Ismail Darbar, Anu Malik, Vishal–​Shekhar (Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani) and A. R. Rahman were part of this new initiative. They came up through independent bands and composed advertising jingles to make a living (see Chapter 5). For example, with backgrounds in rock, pop and classical music, SEL went on to compose groundbreaking scores such as Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Kal Ho Na Ho (2003), Bunty aur Babli (2005), My Name is Khan (2010), and about 50 other films. The trio worked to bridge the gap between Western and Indian music, blending jazz, rock, and pop into their original style.

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While many composers worked in this new direction, others continued with the more traditional, melodically oriented film music from previous decades. Composers Nadeem–​Shravan, for example, chose to be creative in more conventional ways using traditional instruments (sitar, bansuri, and shehnai), melodies and rhythms. In the film Raja Hindustani (1996), for example, the song “Aaye Ho Meri Zindagi Mein” (“You Have Come into My Life”) with lyrics by Sameer captures the essence of traditional life with sounds such as the shehnai, a reed-​like instrument that symbolizes marriage. They also playfully infuse an infectious rhythm of dhol and hand clapping with comments from the strings: “You have come into my life in the guise of spring, may you stay in my heart always as love.” Jatin–​Lalit also composed in a more traditional Golden Age style. In fact, their style was so similar to the older era that their song “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” (1998) became an instant evergreen hit. They used string orchestra, angelic voices on vocables (“oh”), a dhol drum and smooth crooner-​style voices (see “Bole Chudiyan” below).

SONG STYLE COMPARISON #1: SHANKAR-​EHSAAN-​LOY V. JATIN-​L ALIT “MAAHI VE” (KAL HO NA HO) (2003) VS. “BOLE CHUDIYAN” (K3G) (2002) “Maahi Ve” (“My Sweetheart”) is a Punjabi song, covered in several films and independently –​Richa Sharma and Sukhwinder Singh sang it in the 2002 film Kaante, and it was also sung by singers Neha Kakkar and I$mir. The Shankar–​Ehsaan–​Loy version of “Maahi Ve” from the film Kal Ho Naa Ho16 contains jazz vocal harmonies, jazz instrumentation, and vocal growling, which is found in dance music. The song’s refrain is accentuated with a four-on-the-floor beat found in disco and dance music, although applied in a more pop style. The picturization itself, a dance floor in a haveli (large house), opens with a shot of a DJ on a balcony, dancing as he scratches. A drone is strummed on beat 1½ of a four-​beat measure, over a slow, dotted synth bass and hi-​hat on each off-​beat. The dhol drum comes in just before the refrain. During the refrain, the percussion kicks into the four-​on-​the-​floor pattern typical of disco and EDM (Electronic Dance Music), but at a much slower tempo, similar to a pop style. The refrain has a growler calling out “everybody sing,” alternating between Hindi and English. Interludes containing light female voices, flute, and saxophone accompany the on-​screen dancing. Vocal harmonies are tight, with open 6ths, and plenty of doo-​wop, shoo-​wop and other scat stylings. On your head tinkles a chandelier [forehead ornament] In Your ears, the ear-​rings are shining (My Sweetheart) In Your hand there is chiming of bangles In Your feet there is jingling of Your anklets (My Sweetheart) You speak with Your eyes, Oh Lord! (“Maahi Ve” “My Sweetheart,” 2003, excerpt)17

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The lyrics for both songs draw on familiar tropes, describing a few of the 16 ornaments for women (bangles, bindi, ankle bells, etc.) coupled with expressions of love. “Maahi Ve” is written from the male perspective, and “Bole Chudiyan” is from the female perspective, although the male does sing the lyrics praising the girl in verse 2: The bangles say, the bracelets say That I have become yours, beloved Without you, I could not live, I would die (“Bole Chudiyan,” “The Bangles Speak,” 2002, excerpt)18 The music arrangement and vocal styles for the two songs are vastly different. “Bole Chudiyan” (“The Bangles Speak”) with music by Jatin–​Lalit, is sung by Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik. The vocal style utilizes more of the male crooner and light female vocal timbres reminiscent of the Golden and Classic Ages. The accompaniment and arrangement are very neo-​traditional, containing no drum set but only a traditional dhol drum in the background, plus a cintara, or finger cymbal sound. The song makes prominent use of the string orchestra, and does not reference any pop, rock sounds or styles. There is also a slight increase in tempo at the end as the large group dances energetically.

SONG STYLE COMPARISON #2 AJAY-​ATUL VS. BADSHAH “MERE NAAM TU” (ZERO) (2018) AJAY-ATUL “KAR GAYI CHULL” (KAPOOR & SONS) (2016) BADSHAH Contemporary film song styles run the gamut from neo-​retro-​trance-​electronic-​ hip-​hop to full out epic orchestral. The film song “Mere Naam Tu” (“You are Mine”) from the 2018 film Zero, for example, can be described as compositional inter-​ generational fusion on the part of Ajay–​Atul, the music directors. Ajay and Atul Gogavale, are brothers who have been working in the business for two decades, and who compose for film, television serials, independent albums, and plays. Their success is evident in the number of awards they’ve received in all areas of their work. The arrangement for “Mere Naam Tu,” sung by Abhay Jodhpurkar, has a very Golden-​Classic vocal style –​melodic, flowing and light, matching the on-​screen movements of Shah Rukh Khan, but also directly referencing the older crooners. The arrangement, however, is idiomatically Western classical, with sweeping strings, layers of countermelodies, timpani and cymbals that pour the melody into the refrain, sudden fortes and crescendos punctuated by syncopated unison, with a passionate emphasis reminiscent of the great Western composers. During the verses, the piano and/​or strings directly support and guide the voice with a

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doubling of the melody and slight accents or stresses. The interludes do not switch instrumentation, but utilize familiar orchestral idioms, such as waltzes, Stravinsky-​ like meter changes, and solo-​tutti concerto forms. The on-​screen orchestra is clearly “kinesic-​syncing” giving the song aural gravity. At the other end of the spectrum is “Kar Gayi Chull” (“The Beautiful Girl has Made Me Restless”) from the film Kapoor & Sons (2016). The film has multiple music directors, including Amaal Mallik, Badshah and Nucleya. This song by Badshah is a party dance song with Classic clubbing hype, including time stop, then bass drop, before the refrain. The style is a blend of dubstep, EDM, bass, and trap, with a touch of moombahton (a blend of reggaeton and house fusion). The song’s riff resembles LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” while the overall sound is reminiscent of Pitbull. The lyrics objectify the woman who is making the singer “restless” (the word chull actually refers to an itch or desire), saying “when I see your brown color I go mad, you’re not a girl but a hot thing.”

Marketing Film Music: The Evergreen and the Remix The release of soundtracks for films is the most lucrative way for films to make a profit. The differences between film songs from this era and earlier are based in changes in technology, distribution, and marketing on one hand, and adapt the latest styles and genres from independent and international music on the other (see Chapters 5, 6). Film songs may take on these contemporary forms as remixes (techno, EDM, progressive) or they may wistfully capture the nostalgia of an earlier time as do Evergreens. From a marketing perspective, both types of songs are a win–​win. Evergreens are repackaged and sold in collections usually under the name of the playback singer (Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Alka Yagnik, etc.), genre (Evergreen songs of the 1990s, old Evergreen songs), and sold online or at outlets all over South Asia and diaspora in grocers, or as bootlegs. Remixes also cost very little to produce, and are easily repackaged as dance numbers for various dance or celebratory-​ related occasions. The Hindi evergreen song usually concerns older, songs with a particular aesthetic and cultural nostalgia, although there are some “instant Evergreens” (e.g. “Kuch, Kuch Hota Hai” “Something…Something Happens” from 1998). They also include songs that are instant hits and beloved since their first release, which mimic these classical aesthetics. Remixes are types of arrangements that give songs new life, and perhaps a wider distribution as they allow listening contexts to change. Both types, as Beaster-​Jones notes, reinforce the dominance of Hindi film songs as part of the Indian cultural heritage.The term “evergreen” in Hindi film can refer to many things, such as actors, couples, and even dialogs. Most evergreen songs are usually from the Classic Age and represent the “ideal balance between melody, lyrics, accompaniment, and studio recording practices that emphasized the singer’s voice above all else in the recording mix” (Beaster-​Jones 2013). Remixes of both independent and film songs created danceable versions that are used in nightclubs, and at wedding receptions and other social occasions. Song use a range of

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codified dance music such as disco, house, trap, dub, techno, and so forth –​the dance forms emphasize low sound frequencies, while in the melody, the mukhra or part of the refrain, is incorporated (Beaster-​Jones 2009, 437). Sampling may or may not occur. Although there are some critical responses to remixes as lowering the quality of film songs, films continue to include the remix version in their soundtracks:  see Vishal–​ Shekar’s soundtrack for Bbuddha…Hoga Terra Baap (2014) (The Old Man Will Be Your Dad), which includes a dubstep version of the title song; and Shantanu Moitra’s soundtrack for 3 Idiots, which includes two remixes. This practice seems to have waned considerably in terms of official film remix releases, and has been relegated to DJs who remix both independent and film songs.

ILAYARAJA: SOUTH INDIAN TAMIL FILM Tamil film music director Ilayaraja was one of the most prolific and celebrated film composers in the 1980s and 1990s, and mentor to A. R. Rahman. Ilayaraja composed classical music and scores, and was a productive film song composer, music director and producer. Trained as a classical guitarist, Ilaiyaraaja is also an orchestral composer whose works are performed by symphony orchestras outside India. The highly celebrated musician is credited with bringing audiences over from Hindi film to Tamil with his unique fusions and arrangements. Ilaiyaraaja was at the vanguard of integrating Indian instrumentation and folk music with Western classical music and techniques and influenced a generation of musicians all over India. Ilayaraja promoted Western instruments such as the guitar in his films as well. Cited as one of the iconic moments of singer and guitar is his 1982 song “Ilaya Nila Pozhigirathey” (“The Light of the Young Moon Falls upon Me”) from the Tamil film Payanangal Mudivathilla (Journeys Never End).19 His greatest hit “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu” (“Rakkamma, Clap Your Hands”) from the 1991 film Thalapati is considered one of the most popular Indian film songs of all time. One can hear the fusion elements of Western classical and Indian, as well as the humor and energy in the number as the double stop fiddle answers the singers in a quick-​witted response set against a melody with only body percussion snaps as an accompaniment.20 Interestingly, this film, directed by Mani Ratnam, was the last one in which Ilaiyaraaja was the musical director. Soon after, Mani Ratnam selected another Tamil composer, A.  R. Rahman, who would be the most successful and world-​ renowned music composer in Indian film.

Towards a Unified Contemporary Sound By the early 1990s, India’s taste in music was changing in a somewhat parallel fashion to the culinary changes in fast food mentioned above. From the 1980s onward, popular music genres such as ghazal, Indi-​pop, and Sufi-pop influenced film music with eclectic and cosmopolitan singers, styles, and aesthetics, and the lines between them

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often blurred significantly. Rather than being unique to Indian film, the aesthetics of the 1990s followed trends in world music. As Erlmann states, world music is more than a new category, but “a new aesthetic form of the global imagination, an emergent way of capturing the present historical moment and the total reconfiguration of space and cultural identity characterizing societies around the globe” (Erlmann 1996, 468). Beaster-​Jones notes that about this time, some film songs sounded like filmi songs, while others sounded much more like independent songs. Some songs, despite being in films, do not have a soundprint that denotes a filmi-​sound. In other words, songs that were no longer “filmi-​sounding” often experimented and pushed the boundaries, changing the song form (putting the verse before the chorus, as is found in Western pop music) and using the studio production techniques of independent songs. In terms of vocals, singers from outside the film world began recording film songs, thus muddying the distinction even further. Lucky Ali, as Beaster-​Jones notes, sings the song “Ek Pal” for Kaho na…pyaar hai (1999), in which his style is distinctly non-​filmi in tone and inflection (2013). The secret to Indian film music’s success, especially in the 1990s, is that it is constantly evolving –​capable of absorbing new influences, sounds, and genres into itself, creating itself anew and offering dynamism and growth rather than stagnation. One of the main reasons behind the unrelenting hegemony of Hindi film is its ability to adapt, and to do so relatively quickly. The British-​Asian influx of the 1990s presented a possible threat to the film industry, offering “mainstream alternatives.” As mentioned earlier, Indian film turned towards family-​oriented fare, replacing the action films of the 1970s and 1980s. The 1989 landmark film Maine Pyar Kiya (I Have Loved) marked this transition, focused on the trials and tribulations of the extended family, with a renewed emphasis on romance and melody. However, instead of hailing back to Golden Age sounds and timbres, something else happened. The domination of the film song timbre by a small group, including Lata, Asha, and even the 1980s singers, gave way to a rise in independent pop singers. As is evident from the list in Chapter 3, singers such as Lucky Ali crossed over, so to speak, and recorded for films. The crossovers were mutually beneficial for pop singers and films, and gave films a new life in sound and content. Female vocal timbres started to change dramatically, with the arrival of singers such as Raageshwari Loomba, Alisha Chinai, and Mehnaz Hoosain, singers who straddled both sides of the film and non-​film music divide. They offered deeper, richer vocal timbres in keeping with pop music singing rather than following the Lata Mangeshkar sound. Mehnaz won the Channel V Award in 1995 for best female pop vocalist and the Star Screen Award for best female pop singer in the non-​film category in 1996.

Picturization Analysis: “Satrangi Re” Hindi film songs are a unique type of popular music in that the songs are truly not independent, but are integrated into the film’s narrative and picturization. Although songs

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do circulate independently afterwards, films can make or break musicians, catapulting them to stardom or relegating them to oblivion, and hold tremendous power. The following case study explores the complex relationship between the film song, on-​ screen action, and mise-​en-​scène, i.e. the picturization. “SATRANGI RE” (“O SEVEN-​COLORED ONE”) FROM THE 1998 FILM DIL SE (FROM THE HEART) The picturization for “Satrangi re” is one of the most striking from the 1998 film Dil Se. The film is the third in a trio of films directed by Tamil film director, Mani Ratnam, and stars one of Bollywood’s most successful and prolific actors –​Shah Rukh Khan, known as The King of Bollywood  –​along with Manisha Koirala in the lead roles. With music by top popular music director A. R. Rahman, the film broke records in the UK, US, and Japan. Although, the film itself was not a mega hit in India itself, Dil Se has one of the most popular soundtracks of all time, with 6 million copies sold in the US alone. The song “Chaiyya, Chaiyya” (“Shadow, Shadow”) won popular music awards in Britain and elsewhere for one of the best songs in the 20th century. The soundtrack won awards for music (A. R. Rahman), cinematography, playback singing (Sukhwinder Singh), choreography (Farah Khan), direction, and acting among others. The following is an interpretation and analysis of one of the film’s picturizations which demonstrates the extent to which spectacle serves to dramatize and enhance the narrative rather than detract from it. The picturization’s main components are a stunning location, avant-garde and elaborate costumes, and a complex musical composition by A. R. Rahman. The lyrics for “Satrangi Re” are far from typical, light Bollywood fare, and depict obsessive and even erotic tendencies. I’m entangled in your path I’m entangled in your arms Let me untangle my senses I’m entangled in your love I’m possessed by life, I’m possessed by death Except this, there is no peace The lyrics also include a couplet by the Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib (1797–​1869): Ishq par zor nahin, hai yeh woh aatish Ghalib Jo lagaye na lage aur bujhaye na bane There is no control over love, it is that triumphant fire That cannot be ignited easily nor remains when quenched

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PLOT The film takes place before an insurgency in Northeast India. Shah Rukh Khan plays Amarkanth, an All India Radio journalist who briefly meets Meghna, played by Manisha, and falls in love with her. Unbeknownst to him, however, Meghna is a member of one of the liberation groups that plans suicide attacks. She repeatedly rejects his advances, but he pursues her throughout the movie. The film’s narrative progresses through the seven stages of love, e.g. attraction, infatuation, love, reverence, worship, obsession and death, with the film’s songs and picturizations reinforcing the stages including attraction (“Chaiyya, Chaiyya”), infatuation (“Dil Se Re”) and reverence (“Satrangi Re”). The song “Satrangi Re” (“O Seven-​Colored One”), serves not only as a microcosm of the film, but refers to significant external meanings as well. The seven colors signify the seven colors of the rainbow, seven costume changes that reflect seven moods of the song and seven stages of love in the film. It also references the seven rounds of the wedding fire typically conducted in Hindu marriages, and even the seven lifetimes in which a couple is married. PICTURIZATION This picturization features the two main characters –​Amarkant Varma (SRK) and Meghna (Manisha Koirala) –​entangled in the unorthodox love story trajectory of the film. The costumes and movements are mimetic of the film’s unconventional trajectory, in which Amar and Meghna are enmeshed together in red elastic fabric. As the fabric stretches and contracts, we see a visible push and pull in the choreography, representative of Amar’s never-​ending and seemingly unrequited chase for Meghna. The red stretchy fabric (in a color that symbolizes passion, desire, violence, blood, etc.) surrounding them represents not only Amar’s passion and desire, but also, perhaps, the inevitability of their impending demise, the last stage of love in which they die embracing one another (see Figure 4.4). The push–​pull movements and the song’s haunting introduction (solo voice), foreshadows the final scene. In this picturization, she seems to play along with and tease Amar, which clearly indicates that this is Amar’s fantasy, or the romanticized version of his case for her. The costumes in this picturization play a huge role in capturing the seven shades of love it is referencing. Meghna wears seven different outfits, all of which are different colors. In Figure 4.3, for example, Megha wears saffron, a holy color warn by ascetics, which indicates sacrifice, religious abstinence, and a quest for salvation. While Amar begs for her love, it remains unrequited as Megha prepares for her ultimate sacrifice. Amar wears one main costume that is black, which is the physical absence of color. He is without color because his love for Meghna (who represents the colors of the rainbow) is unrequited. The final costume that they wear is white – a color that signifies death in Indian culture. This final moment in the picturization foreshadows the

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end of the film, further supporting the case that this picturization is a microcosm of the film’s trajectory (see Figure 4.5). The video was shot in Ladakh, in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, located in the Himalayan Mountains. The Himalayas are a sacred site as the abode of gods and provide the sources of sacred rivers such as the Ganges. The picturization takes place in three main topographical atmospheres:  one is in the dry, golden desert among the ruins of the Basgo Monastery, and the large, crystal blue Pangong Lake; another is on a snowy mountain cap; and the third setting is inside and surrounding a large haveli (house). Often, the topography is significant, and in this case, the love interests are raised to a height (on top of mountains and ruins) that lends a sacredness to the relationship. These stunning settings also give Indian viewers a feeling of national pride, as they are reminded of the vibrant diversity of the subcontinent. FILM SONG ANALYSIS The sonorous choice of “Satrangi Re” is as striking as the landscape. The song itself is introduced before the picturization even begins. Amar spots Meghna bathing through a slightly open door in the haveli (mansion). As they make eye contact, the introduction to the song begins. We then move to a shaky handheld camera, navigating above the high-​altitude desert setting to provide our establishing shot. All we hear is hissing wind at this point. The camera then begins to roam through the hallways and ruins of the Basgo Monastery, as the haunting voice intrudes –​an androgynous, disembodied voice that is a recurring motif throughout the film. This occurs until we reach another doorway through which we spot Meghna again, belly dancing, this time dressed entirely in black. The sound of wind follows the camera through a maze of ruin/​stone  –​a disquieting lens making us unsure of where we are or where the voice is coming from. Immediately afterwards, the harmonium and a rebab-​sounding stringed instrument begin, combining “folkish melodies and driving rhythms with Indo-​Persian ghazal imagery and hypnotic rap-​style declamation,” according to Lutgendorf (2005). The song contains a mixture of instruments and style –​ a syncretic blend of Eastern and Western influence, shehnai, bansuri, drums, acoustic guitar, jaw harp, castanets, hand clapping, harmonium, etc. This aural aesthetic, plus the bright voice of playback singer Sonu Nigam and the earthy timbre of Kavita Krishnamurthy, make for an exotic, haunting, and hypnotic blend of East and West. This music evokes sonorities of Spanish flamenco and Indian film song, with overtones of Arabic influence.The melody is based on Raga Bhairav –​a serious raga that conveys a meditative mood, sophistication, and emotional depth highlighting the worship phase of the relationship –​at least in Amar’s mind.

Figure 4.3  “Satrangi Re” from Dil Se (saffron and fire represent passion and flame) Source: Permission from Madras Talkies

Figure 4.4  The couple entangled in red Source: Permission from Madras Talkies

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Figure 4.5  The couple in black and white across Pangong Lake Source: Permission from Madras Talkies

Notes 1 Dubai even has a Bollywood theme park named Bollywood Park. 2 Music by Salim-​Sulaiman, lyrics by Jaideep Sanhi, and sung by Hema Sardesai. Listen at https://​​watch?v=DmsOinqrPvQ&list=RDDmsOinqrPvQ&start_​radio=1 3 Ironically, Yash Raj’s business director was forced to resign after claims of sexual harassment. The audio is of Spirit of Women is available at https://​​album/​spirit-​of-​women 4 Binaca was a brand of toothpaste. 5 Released in 2006 with music by Pritam Chakraborty, Salim Sulaiman, and Salim Merchant. 6 You can hear Manna Dey’s classical vocal techniques in songs such as “Jhanak, Jhanak, Tori Baje Payaliya” (in the Braj language) from the 1968 film Mere Huzoor (My Lord) for which he won best male playback singer: https://​​watch?v=0tNs6vA8Oow 7 Listen at https://​​watch?v=xPh9uHIovho&list=PLf71BFAg99j88GZDB6D fijUkc6Q_​oD-​9x 8 Listen at https://​​watch?v=iwuk-​C39H6k 9 For a full analysis of this song, see Beaster-​Jones (2013, 111–​113). 10 For further analysis of this song, see Beaster-​Jones (2015, 72–​73). 11 Composed R. D. Burman and sung by Kishore Kumar. 12 Manmohan Singh later became India’s Prime Minister (2004–​2014). 13 A Nirula’s restaurant near where I live, in the nearby shopping mall in Western Delhi, used to be so packed that you couldn’t get a seat. By 2014, a McDonald’s opened across the hallway, and within a few years, Nirula’s had closed, completely unable to keep up. 14 Here we see that the “Indiana” is not referencing a state in the US, but semiotically altered to mean “one who is Indian.” 15 For a list of recommended listening and viewing of films and songs, see Beaster-​Jones, 2015, Appendix B. 16 View “Maahi Ve” from the film Kal Ho Naa Ho (It May Not Be There Tomorrow) at https://​www.​watch?v=1BWdglekty0&list=RD1BWdglekty0&start_​radio=1. Lyrics by Javed Akhtar. 17 Lyrics by Javed Akhtar. 18 From Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham. Lyrics by Sameer: Sameer is a Guinness record holder for writing the greatest number of songs (over 3,500).

134  •  Popular Music in India 19 View at https://​​watch?time_​continue=43&v=QutKB7tfnxo 20 Listen at https://​​watch?v=ZAE1Ysx-​VGU

Bibliography Adamu, Abdalla Uba. 2008. “The Influence of Hindi Film Music on Hausa Videofilm Soundtrack Music.” In Global Soundtracks: Worlds of Film Music, edited by Mark Slobin. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Amunugama, Sarath. 1980. Notes on Sinhala Culture. Colombo: Gunasena. Arnold, Alison. 1988. “Popular Film Song in India:  A Case of Mass-​Market Musical Eclecticism.” Popular Music 7:2, The South Asia/​West Crossover (May), 177–​188. Arnold, Alison. 1991. “Hindi Filmigit:  On the History of Commercial Indian Popular Music,” PhD Dissertation, Urbana-​Champaign: University of Illinois. Basu, Siddhartha, Sanjay Kak, and Pradip Krishen. 1981. “Cinema and Society: A Search for Meaning in a New Genre.” India International Centre Quarterly (March). Beaster-​Jones, Jayson. 2009. “Evergreens to Remixes:  Hindi Film Songs and India’s Popular Music Heritage.” Ethnomusicology 53:3, 425–​448:​stable/​25653086. Beaster-​Jones, Jayson. 2013. “Film Song and Its Other: Stylistic Mediation and the Hindi Film Song Genre.” In More than Bollywood: Studies in Indian Popular Music, edited by Gregory D. Booth and Bradley Shope, pp. 97–​113, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Beaster-​Jones. 2015. Bollywood Sounds:  The Cosmopolitan Mediations of Hindi Film Song. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Beeman, W. 1981. “The Use of Music in Popular Film:  East and West.” Indian International Centre: Quarterly (March). Bhattacharya, Sumit. 2007. “Chak De’s Music Is Young, Peppy.” Rediff, August 2:​ movies/​2007/​aug/​02chak.htm Bhattacharjee, Anirudha and Balaji Vittal. 2011. R. D. Burman: The Man, The Music. New Delhi: Harper Collins. Biswas, Anil. 1975. “The Ghazal in Indian Film,” Sangeet Natak 37, 12–​15. Booth, Gregory. 2008. Behind the Curtain:  Music Making in Mumbai’s Film Studios. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Divecha, Delnaz. 2019. “Celebrating Women’s Day with 8 Bollywood Songs for Women.” BookMyShow, March 8: https://​​entertainment/​womens-​day-​bollywood-​song/​69371 Dubashi, Jagannath. 1986. “Cassette Piracy: High Stakes.” India Today, 31 March. Dwyer, Rachel, and Divya Patel. 2002. The Visual Culture of Hindi Film. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Erlmann, Viet. 1996. “The Aesthetics of the Global Imagination: Reflections on World Music in the 1990s.” Public Culture 8:3, 467–​487. Ganti, Tejaswini. 2004. Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema. New York: Routledge. Gehlawat, Ajay and R. Dudrah. 2017. “The Evolution of Song and Dance in Hindi Cinema.” South Asian Popular Culture, 15:2–​3, 103–​108. Getter, Joseph, and Balasubrahmaniyan. 2008. “Tamil Film Music:  Sound and Significance.” In Global Soundtracks:  Worlds of Film Music, edited by Mark Slobin. Middletown, CT:  Wesleyan University Press. IndiaFm Chak De India. 2007. “Music Review.” August 2:​movies/​chak-​de-​india-​music-​ review-​review-​bollywood-​pclwsEjdejfhj.html Iyengar, Radhika. 2018. “When All India Radio Banned Film Music from Its Broadcasts.” News in India, July 14. Karnad, Girish. 1981. “Comments from the Gallery.” India International Centre: Quarterly (March. Khandekar, Sreekant. 1986. “Classical Music: The New Awakening.” India Today, March 15.

Indian Film Music  •  135 Kolhi, Shikha. 2018. “International Women’s Day:  15 Empowering Bollywood Songs So You Can Dance Your Way out of Misogyny.” PinkVilla, March 9:  https://​​lifestyle/​love-​ relationships/​international-​women-​s-​day-​15-​empowering-​bollywood-​songs-​so-​you-​can-​dance-​ your-​way-​out-​misogyny-​400447 Krishen, Pradip. 1981. “Introduction.” India International Centre: Quarterly (March. Kvetko, Peter. 2004. “Can the Indian Tune Go Global?” Drama Review 48:4, 183–​191. Lelyveld, David. 1994. “Upon the Subdominant: Administering Music on All-​India Radio.” Social Text 39, 111–​127: https://​​stable/​466366 (accessed September13, 2018). Lobo, Kenneth. 2016. “RIP Kersi Lord.” Red Bull Academy Daily, October 18:  http://​daily.​2016/​10/​kersi-​lord-​feature Lutgendorf, Philip. 2005. “Sex in the Snow: The Himalayas as Erotic Topos in Popular Hindi Cinema.” Himalaya:  Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies 25:1, Article 7:  https://​​himalaya/​vol25/​iss1/​7 Manuel, Peter. 1988. “Popular Music in India, 1901–​86.” Popular Music 7: 2. 157–​176. Manuel, Peter. 1993. Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. McCarthy, Neill. 2014. “Bollywood:  India’s Film Industry by the Numbers [Infographic].” Forbes, September 3:  https://​​sites/​niallmccarthy/​2014/​09/​03/​bollywood-​indias-​film-​ industry-​by-​the-​numbers-​infographic/​#621638252488 Morcom, Anna. 2007. Hindi Film Songs and the Cinema. Aldershot, UK and Burlington, VT: Ashgate. Nandy, Ashis. 1998. The Secret Politics of Our Desires: Innocence, Culpability and Indian Popular Cinema. London: Zed Books. Rai, Saritha 2015. “How Domino’s Reinvented Itself to Win In India.” Fast Company, January 13: https://​​3039746/​how-​dominos-​won-​india Ranade, Ashok. 1984a. On the Evolution of Film Music in India:  On the Music and Musicians of Hindoostan. New Delhi: Promila, pp. 68–​78. Ranade, Ashok. 1984b. On Music and Musicians of Hindoostan. New Delhi: Promilla. Rangoonwalla, Firoze. 1975. 75 Years of Indian Cinema. New Delhi: Indian Book Company. Sarkar, Kobita. 1975. Indian Cinema Today: An Analysis. New Delhi: Sterling. Shope, Bradley. 2007. “‘They Treat Us White Folks Fine’: African American Musicians and the Popular Music Terrain in Late Colonial India.” South Asian Popular Culture 5:2, 97–​116. Thomas, Rosie. 1995. “Melodrama and the Negotiation of Morality in Mainstream Hindi Film.” In Consuming Modernity: Public Culture in a South Asian World, edited by C. Breckenridge, pp. 157–​ 182. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Turino, Thomas. 2008. Music as Social Life:  The Politics of Participation. Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Virdi, Jyotika. 2003. The Cinematic ImagiNation:  Indian Popular Films as Social History. Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.



India’s Independent Popular Music Scene

This chapter explores independent, non-​film, popular music in India, using rock as the point of entry. The history of independent rock and popular music in India is the story of a genre grappling to take root but only succeeding in fits and starts. What is clear is that musician’s and fan’s passions were ever-present, but the society, economy, business, politics, and technology often weren’t quite ready to support them, or large scale events occurred to thwart their success. This chapter takes the reader through the rough terrain that is the history of non-​film rock and pop in India, describing the people, creativity, and institutions that set it back and helped it progress. In rock’s early years, artists began covering their favorite Western hits, while later bands broke new ground with their own compositions. These artists had to balance Indian and Western sensibilities, as well as local identities, languages, and sounds. Imaginative fusions and original genres emerged through the decades, along with the musical and technical infrastructure to support and promote them such as competitions, festivals, and technical innovation. New musics emerged using hybrid strategies, where artists or groups blend and re-​imagine traditional genres such as classical and folk with popular, original genres such as Vedic metal and Goan trance, and particularly Sufi popular music, which crossed categorical boundaries manifesting as film, Sufi, rock, pop, devotional, and folk. Questions throughout the chapter concern ways in which Indian music has accommodated and developed its unique modern pop style with respect to traditional and international sounds, aesthetics and ideas, innovations of texture, harmony, timbre, scales and raga-​s, and collaborative efforts. The chapter builds an understanding of the roots of India’s musical integration as an authentic expression rather than an attempt to “imitate” non-​Indian forms. 136

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Overview Pre-​independent India in the 1920s, the 1930s and 1940s saw the rise of the India self-​ rule movement supported by Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, and other freedom fighters, ultimately leading to British withdrawal in 1947. After the end of British rule, India underwent massive political and economic changes. The world witnessed the largest human migration in history, with 12 million Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims moving to the newly partitioned areas of East and West Pakistan. The government created five-​year plans that pushed India towards a socialism in which large segments of the economy were nationalized, including telecommunications, insurance, water, machine tools, and electrical plants. Tariffs were imposed on goods, which dampened international trade, and businesses were restricted from opening offices in other countries in an attempt to boost India’s domestic economy. The resulting budget deficits from these tactics not only failed to boost the economy, but ushered in austerity measures amidst a growing population and higher poverty (Staley 2006). On the heels of this austerity, internal turmoil upended India throughout the 1960s, with five wars, invasions, insurgencies in the northeast, a severe famine, and the creation of the country Bangladesh out of what was East Pakistan after the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India’s first and to date only female prime minister, declared an emergency in which her political enemies and protesters against her government were jailed. Gandhi’s government also forced sterilization of the poor in an attempt to limit population growth. She was assassinated in 1984 by her own bodyguards. India’s restrictive economic politics, emphasis on nationalism, and the resultant austerity promoted by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in addition to turmoil from the Gandhi years, hindered the spread of Western rock music, a genre that thrives with free flowing capital, independent thought, and counter-cultural ideology. In this inhospitable environment, it seems that there was little room in India for much that came from outside India’s borders, including rock and roll. However, the post-​Independence generation of “Midnight’s Children” (those born after midnight on August 15, 1947) was searching for its musical voice –​a voice that was almost entirely represented at the time by Indian film music over other types of independent artistic expression. Indeed, the film industry had become synonymous with India’s Independence, effectively extinguishing any remnants of pre-​independence music genres from the time of the British Raj.

The Origins of Independent Popular Music in India Musically, jazz and its venues –​cabarets, nightclubs, and such, thrived in big cities pre-​ and post-​British withdrawal. International musicians performed in India along with Indian jazz musicians who were well-​established fixtures in the nightclubs of Park Street in Calcutta and the Taj in Bombay –​locations frequented by Anglo-​Indians, Parsis, and Indian clientele (see Chapter 3). Jazz gradually waned in popularity as austerity measures took effect, however, and film song began to fill in the lacuna. By the 1960s in the US and UK, rock and roll steamrolled over any all musical genres in its path, crushing, or rather making obsolete, many existing vocal pop groups along the way. Musicians in India felt the new music’s reverberations as well, but to nowhere near the same extent. By the 1950s and 1960s, rock had landed in India as in the rest of the world, although it lacked the intense wave of popularity and ecstatic receptions

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experienced elsewhere. Rock and roll in India had a tough fight making headway in the young, conservative nation. According to Booth, 1950s and 1960s, rock and roll’s early roots were not only clipped by the post-​Independent nationalism that discouraged consumerism and youth culture, but by the already dominant culture-​industry of Indian film music, which had no markets for the stand-​alone commodity of independent recordings (Booth 2013). Audiences who wanted access to non-​film music, and Indian musicians who wanted to play it, faced steep challenges. The radio became one of the only formats through which to hear popular music, and even that was a problem. The government-​owned radio station, All India Radio (AIR) would play neither rock nor film music, forcing listeners to tune into Radio Ceylon from Sri Lanka in order to hear it (see Chapter 4). Goods from abroad, which were easier to obtain under colonial rule, were now limited due to the restrictions on foreign goods, thus hampering the availability of recordings, instruments, and other materials required to perform. Sidharth Bhatia, author of India Psychedelic, notes the excitement of the time: In the early Sixties, when rock began, it was novel. No music was filtering into this country. You couldn’t buy a record. All India Radio was playing Hindustani classical music. People relied on Radio Ceylon, Voice of America and BBC to listen to some new music. Among the new music that came through was this music of four lads from Liverpool. Youngsters all over India, unknown to each other, started listening to this [The Beatles] –​harmonies, pleasing sounds, beautiful guitar work etc.You couldn’t get a foreign magazine, you couldn’t get foreign music on the radio and yet, these people [rockers] were in step with the latest trends in the world. How? It could have only been a certain kind of madness … (Bhatia in Suhasini 2013) In the 1960s and 1970s, stories of homemade amplifiers, or musicians only having one amp for all of their band instruments to plug into, were typical. If you were lucky, you had a “back channel” for getting hold of instruments. These channels might have included a relative who lived or traveled abroad and would be able to supply you with equipment, or was living in an area frequented by foreign tourists who might sell or leave their equipment behind when they left. Otherwise, the only option was to go through the black market. Recording your own music was also not an option for decades due to limited studio space and exorbitant costs. When recordings did happen, soundboards with only a few channels were available. Musicians who wanted to play rock not only faced these financial and economic obstacles, but social and familial resistance as well. Indian society places a great deal of pressure on youth to do well in school and find a good job –​stereotypically a doctor or engineer –​and stresses the importance of focusing on study. Indian parental pressure on children to succeed is intense, with many extended families relying on one or two breadwinners to support them.1 Given this social pressure, rock, jazz, or any other band music as a career choice was quite unimaginable for most. Even jamming in a band as a hobby was and still is out of the question for many as it costs money and takes time away time from studies. Other basic obstacles include access to good teachers and music schools, requiring budding musicians to find creative ways of learning their instruments in lieu of a trained music educators (see Chapters 6 and 7).

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1960s Rock Music: Setting the Stage Early rock was referred to as “Beat Music” –​named after the British term for Beat groups that combined rock and roll with blues, doo-​wop, and a British genre called skiffle. The term applied to artists such as the Beatles, and other guitar-​heavy groups consisting of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drum set. Beat musicians distinguished themselves from jazz bands in both musical content and style, with three guitarists and a drummer rather than string, brass and piano combinations commonly found in jazz. Some of the first Beat groups from the 1960s included Beat-​X from Madras, Flintstones from Calcutta, and the Mystiks from Bombay. Beat-​X, Mystiks, and The Flintstones, mostly covered Western groups or performed in the style of the popular international bands of the time.2 For example, on a rare 45 rpm recording from 1969 (the Flintstones with lead singer Usha Iyer) we hear an original composition, “The Trip,” on one side, and a cover of Tommy Roe’s 1960s hit song “Dizzy” on the flipside (Seven45rpm 2016). The songs reveal Usha’s rich vocal timbre and the bands typical Beat sound steeped with British invasion influence. The early Beat band repertoire consisted almost entirely of covers. As Booth notes in “The Beat Comes to India,” “groups […] played the hits that everyone wanted to hear, although they admitted that the bands would slip in an original tune or two” (Booth 2013, 226). Playing covers was critical because, at the time, Indians wanted to hear live versions of their favorite international music and would rely on Indian bands to play the latest hits from the UK and US.

USHA UTHUP –​FROM JAZZ TO POP TO FILM Usha Uthup, known as the original diva of Indi-​Pop, was born in 1947, and raised in Bombay along with her three sisters who also sang. As a child, Usha’s unique voice was not recognized in the school chorus, and she was reassigned to a percussion instrument rather than being allowed to sing (Tribune India 2008). Her three sisters, however, began their singing careers in Bombay singing in clubs and gymkhanas3 and invited her to sing with them. They were a huge success, and traveled around India performing with the jazz musicians of the day, such as Hal Green and his band, Chick Chocolate, Goody Seervai, Ken Mack, Maurice Concessio and Micky Correa. By the age of 20, in the late 1960s, Usha was a successful singer –​ the highest paid crooner in Delhi, Chennai, and Kolkata, singing in restaurants and clubs. Her trademark style included wearing a sari, which she attributes to her success: “Most of the crooners were Anglo-​Indians then, and some of them like Eva and Gerry Dee were fabulous. Perhaps, I drew the most attention because I was the only crooner wearing a sari” (Tribune India 2008). Usha’s rich voice was well suited for jazz and pop music. In 1968, she recorded Western folk and country hits such as the Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya,” based on a Cajun tune and originally recorded in 1952, as well as the Kingston Trio’s “Greenback Dollar.” Usha’s resonant voice was able to successfully capture the essence of American folk and country music, with her particular timbre and

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singing style. Foreshadowing India’s cosmopolitanism, Usha spent time in London and Kenya, and recorded songs in Sinhala, Chinese, Swahili, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, and Creole, as well as multiple regional Indian languages. Along with her independent pop music career Usha worked as a playback singer in over 150 Indian films, providing a distinct alternative to the Bollywood nightingale Lata Mangeshkar. In the song “Hari Om Hari” from the 1980 film Pyaari Dushman (Beloved Enemy), for example, she offers her earthy vocal quality to the melody and incorporates bouts of scat. This item number is very much inspired by the song “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna” from the 1971 film of the same name, and even includes a hippie-​like female lead with plenty of Indians and foreigners dancing and smoking the chillum pipe. One of her more interesting songs is “Koī yahan, aha nache nache” (“Someone Dances Here”), a rock number from the film Disco Dancer  –​the Bappi Lahiri composition is based on the Buggles 1979 hit “Video Killed the Radio Star.” With the notable exception of wedding or party bands, the idea of making a living playing covers is not a desirable one found among rock bands in the US and UK. Performing covers of someone else’s music robs bands of their emotional potential and creative expression inherent in writing original songs. However, it is a fairly stable way to survive as a musician. Early Indian rock and pop bands who concentrated on covers rather than originals were especially sought after for gigs in larger cities  –​lounges, restaurants, nightclubs, etc. –​earning enough money to eke out a living. Even Freddie Mercury of Queen fame performed covers of Little Richard songs in his Mumbai band called The Hectics. Rock appealed to musicians all over India, from the northeast to the south. Groups emerged in the mid-​1960s from Shillong (the Fentones), Bombay (the Combustibles, the Jets, and the Savages), and Madras and Bangalore (the Mustangs). While Hindi film became the nation’s de facto musical voice, Bhatia points to the nascent pluralism in India’s popular music scene: They [rock musicians] came from all over the country and from varied strata of society and belonged to every religion and community. Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Shiks, Zorastrians, and even Armenians; Khasis, Anglo-​Indians, Bengalis, Tamilians, Sindhis, Goans, Parsis, Punjabis, everyone joined in. It was a wonderful manifestation of emerging Indian pluralism contributing in a tiny but no less significant way towards Nation Building. (Bhatia 2015, 11) The next wave of bands formed in late 1960s post-​Woodstock era. The band Human Bondage, for example, was co-​founded by Ramesh Shotham, a self-​taught drummer from Madras. As a typical teenager of the time, he listened to the usual bands that were common all over the world (the Beatles, Led Zeppelin). However, in a twist of irony, Shotham received a recording of the Mahavishnu Orchestra from a traveler who was departing India, and found inspiration from the Indian music. The Human Bondage

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was one of India’s early examples of rock and Indian fusion, but certainly not the last in a musical marriage that will perpetuate and intensify over the next few decades. By the 1970s, however, social attitudes towards musicians hadn’t changed much, but musicians’ attitudes about playing covers was starting to evolve. According to Arjun S.  Ravi’s six-​part online documentary, Standing By (Ravi 2015),4 musicians were still actively discouraged by society in the 1970s with few opportunities to make it: “Making a living in the 70s was impossible, unless you went to a hotel and played that [emphasis mine] music, and compromised a great deal.” That music, referred to covers of international tunes and Bollywood music. Many other outside forces also disrupted rock’s early years. Venues were very difficult to come by, and local political climates could change violently. Both Calcutta and Shillong experienced a curtailment of rock music due to political changes and opposition. In Calcutta, the influx of immigrants from East India during the Partition of 1947 changed social demographics in the city. By the 1960s and 1970s, severe power shortages crippled businesses, and bands in clubs couldn’t play without electricity. Calcutta’s newly empowered Communist Party did not favor live music, and this, along with a lack of government support, resulted in the near-​collapse of night life on Park Street (see Chapter 3). Eventually, communities that supported cabaret and live music in Calcutta (such as the Anglo-​Indians and Parsis) fled to Europe, North America, and Australia. Although rock in India received a boost in the 1970s with the help of Bhaskar Menon (see Chapter 3), it would take several more decades, an economic revolution, the rise of the internet, and an influx of technology to change India’s rock scene to one that was more hospitable and where original band compositions became the norm. India’s early rock scene would not have survived without festivals, competitions, and the journals that supported them. “Beat contests” were popular early on, such as the Beat Night in the Greens Hotel in Bombay, where the winner would receive a contract with HMV. Beat contests were the primary outlet for early bands, as there were few places for Beat groups to perform. The most influential competition at the time was the Simla Beat Contest, and its resultant compilation albums (see box below). INDIAN ROCK MAGAZINES 1967 –​ JUNIOR STATESMAN One of the most impactful publications in India’s rock history was Junior Statesman (JS). JS hit the stands in 1967, and was India’s first magazine devoted to music, fashion, film, theater, and celebrities: Anyone who was a teenager in India between 1967 and 1976 will not need persuading about the extraordinary impact that JS had on their generation. (Shashi Tharoor) In a sense, JS was a coming of age of Indian youth, a joining of hands across many oceans, an anthem of the young all over the world wanting to be heard. It was the time when Marshall Mcluhan was talking about the global village. It is no coincidence that JS came out at the same time the Rolling Stone

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began publishing in the US, the same time Melody Maker started coming out in England, the time when Time-​Out happened in London. There was a Renaissance of youthful ideas the world over and JS was there at the right time. (Prabhu 2012) JS was referred to as India’s Rolling Stone, as it emerged the same year as the iconic rock magazine. JS was conceived of and founded by two Britons, Evan Charlton and Desmond Doig. Evan was then the editor of The Statesman, a Calcutta-​based Anglophile English language newspaper founded in 1875, and Desmond was the founding editor of the JS and the person who brought the works of Mother Teresa to the public consciousness. Evan and Desmond brought the magazine to life, but its cult status as a youth magazine occurred after Desmond hired two excellent journalists (WhoseMusic 2006). The magazine’s arrival was a refreshing departure from the existing media, which at the time didn’t cater to youth markets, and heralded a new era. The journal was one of the first publications to define the demographic known as the “teenager,” in India, and then write for it.5 At the time, youth (and everyone else) had few alternatives to entertainment information and news. The magazine’s main media competition was a state-​run television channel, Doordarshan (literally “far-​seeing”), with only a single station broadcasting from Delhi, and local newspapers. Doordarshan’s broadcasts began in 1959 as part of All India Radio, under the centralized government’s control of the young media. Not only did the station not reach most of India, its programming was highly limited, and it only began regular daily transmissions in 1965. Newspapers of the day focused mainly on politicians and did not cover any entertainment events, and there were no other entertainment magazines available at the time. The impact of Junior Statesman (JS) was profound. Its pages filled with the likes of “pop-​art graphics, wildly kaleidoscopic illustrations, a fold-​out larger-​ than-​life blow-​up of some teen icon and articles whose sensibility alternated between Seventeen magazine and Hunter S. Thompson on a (relatively) sober day” according to one of the magazine’s writers, Shashi Tharoor (Times of India 2007). “It became a must-​read magazine for Indian teens.” Content included musicians, music, and styles, but also a healthy dose of Indian talent, and a penchant for nurturing such talent. Articles appeared on international artists like Zakir Hussain, as well as dancers, actors, and directors. There were musician interviews, band bios, listings of music events and competitions, pull-​out posters of teen icons (one issue, for example, states that the pull-​out poster was of folk singer Judy Collins). The magazine was quite eclectic, with articles on travel, adventure, news, science, and even Mother Teresa (Prabu 2012). 1969 –​ DATELINE DELHI Other journals also appeared early on, but none with the reach or impact of JS. In 1969, what began as a local “fanzine” became an important source of events,

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reviews, and movies. This handmade publication’s black and white pages provided a launching pad for local bands, who advertised in Dateline Delhi. 1993 –​ ROCK STREET JOURNAL Rock Street Journal6 is a monthly magazine dedicated to helping support rock musicians in India. It was founded in 1993 by Amit and Shena Gamat Saigal after seeing the lack of support for up and coming musicians in India’s rock world. They felt that the scene was vibrant, but fragmented, and without a central accounting of what was going on nationwide in terms of rock. Amit was interested in promoting Indian musicians. Until the journal’s initiation, there were band competitions scattered throughout India. Rock Street Journal kept track of all of the goings on in this pre-​internet journal acting as a critical source for musicians, with many attributing their success to the journal. It also released compilation albums, which motivated bands to create their own music rather than covers. The current (2019) circulation of the journal is 140,000.

Figure 5.1  “Mood Indigo,” Zephyrtone, 2013 Source: Artistfan [CC BY-​SA 4.0 (https://​​licenses/​by-​sa/​4.0)]

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EARLY ROCK FESTIVALS SIMLA BEAT CONTEST (ITC) (LATE 1960s) Sponsored by the Indian Tobacco Company, and named after a brand of cigarette, the Simla Beat Contest ran from the late 1960s until about 1972 in Bombay. The contest was the first attempt at organizing the independent rock scene in India, and although it ran only a few years, this all-​India band competition encouraged artists to perform covers as well as original songs. This highly organized contest became the venue for launching bands, as the winners were sent to Calcutta to record their music. One of the most influential products to come from the Simla Beat Contest was the annual compilation album. This album featured the best bands of the year, and was much anticipated by fans across India. Between the Beat contest and the recordings, music went beyond covers into original compositions. SNEHA YATRA YOUTH FESTIVAL (1971) Sneha Yatra Youth Festival was the first attempt at a national youth festival. Sneha Yatra was organized in 1971 in Malavli, and was known as the Indian Woodstock even though its main goal was to bring together youth for the first time, rather than to start a political movement. People traveled from all over India, and although estimates vary, roughly 4,000 were in attendance. MOOD INDIGO (1971) Mood Indigo (MI) is Asia’s largest college cultural festival, and one of the biggest of its kind in the world. Started in 1971 with a little support from IIT (India Institute of Technology) in Bombay, a group of organizers named it after the Frank Sinatra song. Current festivals include over 200 acts and attendance of over 140,000. MI’s categories of competition include rock band, solo singing, acapella singing, English solo singing, duet instrumental, and DJ hunt. The rock band competition rules require singing in Hindi only, and are highly delineated in terms of musical limitations (no rap refrains are allowed, but Indian classical refrains are permitted). Prizes are monetary, and range from 8,000 to 25,000 rupees (roughly $100 to $350). Judging is based on differing criteria listed as vocal quality, quality of instrumental music, tightness, synchronization, overall impact as a band for band competitors, and pitch, rhythm, voice modulation, the overall impact of the song (song selection, stage presence etc.) for solo vocalists. Classical competitions forbid any folk or film music but allow 15 minutes of competition time as opposed to as little as one minute for the elimination rounds of the pop/​rock categories. Prize money for the classical competition is significantly lower than that of the bands, with a top prize of under $100. In addition to singing, there are many other categories of competition including dance (Bollywood, hip-​hop, classical, etc.), theatrical, design and digital arts (digital painting, one-​minute films, and merchandise designing), and a huge range of other creative competitions such as literary arts, speaking arts (poetry slam), fine arts, and lifestyle (fashion designing, fashion with trash).

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THE INDEPENDENCE ROCK FESTIVAL (1986) Founded in 1986 by music promoter Farhad Wadia, the Independence Rock Festival (IRF) is a large two-​day festival in Mumbai, and is India’s longest running rock festival. IRF is known for its rock, metal, and alternative music. One of its goals is to promote Indian talent rather than bringing in international acts. Also known as the “Woodstock of India,” it is cited as one of the top 10 rock festivals in the world to see (Independence Rock n.d.). THE GREAT INDIAN ROCK FESTIVAL (1997) The Great Indian Rock Festival (GIR) was begun in 1997 by Amit Saigal, of Rock Street Journal, as an opportunity for bands to compete using original songs, in an “attempt towards freedom  –​freedom from the web of covers that is one of the biggest impediments to the art form.”7 The first competition took place at the Hamsadhwani Theatre in Delhi. Each year GIR released an album of 12 original hits of the top 12 bands selected, circulating it through Rock Street Journal. As of 2007, organizers dropped the competition, and it became purely a rock and metal festival, catering to upwards of 50,000 people. The festival ended in 2012.

The 1970s: Forging Indian Rock The 1970s were difficult yet exciting times in India for rock music. With Beat and pop music fading into the rear view mirror, more socially conscientious bands took center stage. Folk and heavy metal influenced India’s rock scene with the music of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. Hippies continued to flood into India searching for alternative lifestyles and meditative practices, and were able to relate to the Indian bands. A handful of cities became hubs for certain genres such as Shillong’s blues scene and the rock scene in Mumbai and Calcutta. With a few exceptions, it was almost impossible to make a living as a musician in India at that time. The rock band Human Bondage, was one of those exceptions. Established in both Bombay and Bangalore and formed in the wake of the tidal wave of peace and love from the US and UK, Human Bondage managed to thrive. The band was founded by two brothers, Ramesh and Suresh Sotham, with lead singer Radha Thomas, who was a teenager at the time. Human Bondage (named after the Somerset Maugham book) was able to play Cream and Hendrix because of guitarist Suresh Shotham’s talent, according to Bhatia (2015, 87). They were considered pioneers in raga rock, a term which indicated that Indian musical influences played a large role in defining their sound. Both Suresh and Ramesh Shotham learned Carnatic music in their childhood and introduced it into their raga rock music in an early example of rock-​classical fusion (Bhatia 2015, 86). The group was considered highly polished, influential, and popular, gigging almost every night at clubs around India (Belliappa 2013). They were also relatively successful despite the fact that they rarely recorded an album feeling, that they weren’t good enough (Suhasini 2013). One of their only recordings is “All Wrong Blues.”8 Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin met Suresh in Bombay and were very impressed. Page compared Suresh with John McLaughlin, saying:

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Yeah, it was very good indeed, a very competent musician. He frightened me to death by saying, “Oh, I practice for at least eight hours every day,” and you could see that he did too…things that were like Bach structures, but his own inventions. But he was getting no market whatsoever because they didn’t understand. Jimmy Page (Shadwick and Leonard 2005, 80) RAGA ROCK, BLUES, PSYCHEDELIC The influence of three rock genres: raga, psychedelic, and blues rock, dominated the Indian music scene in the late 1960s and 1970s. These genres were inspired by inter-​cultural collaborations, the hippie/​psychedelic scene, an influx of foreigners, new ideas, and mind-​altering experiences. Raga rock took off where Indian influences on jazz music ended, with music that blends sounds such as sitar, tabla, drone, santoor, and other Indian instruments with rock music (see Chapter  3 for more on this). Blues rock had a radically different sound from that of the Beat bands. Blues rock, the precursor of heavy metal, utilizes distorted guitars, aggressive vocals, and keyboards. Psychedelic rock aims to mimic or replicate the experiences of the psychedelic drug culture, using sound effects and special techniques. Indian psychedelic music draws on musical characteristics such as the drone or raga-​s. Raga rock influences can be heard in the song “Krokodil” from Krokodil’s 1970 album Swamp. The song begins with piano chords in a gospel progression, and percussion consisting of finger cymbals and hi-​hat, followed by tabla and drum set.9 Its vocals, lead and harmony, bear traces of the Rolling Stones and Buffalo Springfield. Radha Thomas, singer for Human Bondage and now media executive, notes that in the1970s, people were “imprisoned in an analog world where live music meant everything. It’s not the case today. It’s so much harder to be successful today” (Belliappa 2013). The band disbanded in 1976, but Suresh Shotham went on to perform in Jazz Yatra, one of the popular jazz fusion bands of the 1980s, touring Europe where he eventually lived for a time. Political folk music influenced a new activism, and bands responded to the issues and concerns facing India. One pioneering Bengali band from Calcutta, Moheener Ghoraguli, was greatly influenced by folk musician Bob Dylan, and found that singing in their own regional languages was more effective in getting their messages of social concern across to local audiences. This idea was revolutionary in an era of Indian rock music predicated on singing in English. Moheener Ghoraguli not only sang in Bengali but laced their music with Bengali and Baul folk music, a type of hereditary mystic music from the Bengal region. Calcutta, once the hub of Western music in India with Usha Uthup, Louis Banks, and huge nightclub audiences of Anglo-​Indians, was devastated b the exodus of its patrons and the rise of communism. Calcutta’s music scene revived with this new Bengali progressive rock band whose sound was referred to as “Baul Jazz.” The group’s songs reflected contemporary issues such as pollution, social concerns, and the disadvantaged.

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Figure 5.2  Moheener Ghoraguli (rock band) Source: Aryasanyal at English Wikipedia [CC BY-​SA 3.0] https://​​wiki/​ File:MoheenerGhoraguli-​group.jpg

Gautham Chattopadhyay, the band’s songwriter, emphasized personal and social lyrics, like Dylan. The band incorporated local along with Western instruments, playing dhol, tabla, banshi, dotara, harmonica, violin, and guitar (Rokanuzzaman 2011). Their song “Prithibita naki” (“The World Seems Like Getting Smaller and Smaller”) addresses the negative impact of television on society with the lyrics: “The world gradually became smaller and smaller and gets imprisoned in the grip of cables and satellites, in the stupid boxes in living rooms” (Rokanuzzaman 2011). The group did not last into the 1980s, but their music remained important on college campuses for decades, and was covered by Bengali bands such as Krosswindz, Fossils, Bhoomi, and Insomnia well into the 1990s and 2000s. In Calcutta, the bands the Cavaliers, Great Bear, and High, shared their members, particularly Dilip Balakrishnan, a well-​loved vocalist and lead singer for all three bands. All the bands created original compositions. The Cavaliers, founded in the 1960s, was more of a pop group. Their song “Love is a Mango”10 was one of their more famous ones, and although this song is marked by its poor recording quality, it is still notable to mention its calypso feel. Dilip Balakrishnan’s next band, Great Bear, founded in 1969, led the way for more original rock compositions. Great Bear’s drummer Nondon Bagchi believes that this was the first Indian band to play original music (NH7 2014). Their sound is similar to Cream, Floyd, and the Grateful Dead and bands in that genre, rather than the more pop-​sounding music of the time. Dilip’s later band, High, would play deeper and lesser known rock tracks when gigging. This allowed for Dillip to interject some of his own originals between covers without the audience knowing the difference. Bass player Llewellyn Hilt states that “soon after becoming familiar with [Dilip’s originals], [the audience] requested those songs over the covers!” (Times of India 2017).

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Figure 5.3  Lou Majaw, the Great Society Source: Sohanmaheshwar [CC BY-​SA 3.0 (https://​​licenses/​by-​sa/​3.0)]

Lou Majaw, a jazz and rock musician from Shillong, was active in the Shillong rock music scene for years first as a member of the Fentones in the 1960s and later in Great Society. Lou was an avid admirer of Bob Dylan and is known for his annual Bob Dylan tribute concerts. Lou brought discipline and order into the rock music scene in the Northeast. According to former band member of the Mojos, Robert G. Lyngdoh, prior to Lou, “musicians had a very bad image  –​loose lifestyle, drunk, until Great Society came along.” Lou Majaw brought discipline into the music, and did not allow musicians to be drunk during rehearsals or performance. Lou’s love and respect for Dylan’s lyrics influenced other musicians that they could write on important issues. Unfortunately, this musical prosperity didn’t last in Shillong, as political insurgencies and corruption greatly hampered the music scene, and militants often demanded a cut (Standing By). ROGER DREGO’S PROFESSIONAL SOUND The trend of limited access to quality technology continued through the 1990s. Live shows were particularly poorly engineered. Despite the number of trained engineers in India, very few of them were familiar with the field of audio production in the 1970s as the professional audio engineer was not a common or even familiar occupation at the time. The live concert scene barely existed, and good equipment was scarce. After becoming tired of hearing bad sound quality, Roger Drego decided to dedicate his talents to getting good sound at concerts. He quickly become known as one of the most sought-​after and important sound engineers in India for the live concert scene. He eventually founded three audio equipment and service companies: Electrocraft, Roger Drego Theatre Management, and Star Professional Audio. His name itself is now a brand, that prides itself on providing excellent equipment for all types of venues in India.

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The 1980s: Rock on the Rise By the 1980s, India’s social and political turmoil was starting to ebb, and a new stability emerged. Until this point, musicians remained connected to the live music scene, with concerts, festivals, and club gigging as their bread and butter. Aside from the live scene, not much had changed in Indian rock. Cover songs were still the norm, with few bands only writing original composition. Bands still did not record albums, as recording studio costs were prohibitive, and the equipment in them remained substandard. Television and radio, still nationalized, did not cover independent rock bands, and Indian film music and classical music were the two largest and most popular genres (Virmani 2016, 94) Audiences in the 1980s revealed a penchant for more mainstream pop rather than rock, but enough interest existed to support the rise of three new genres – Hindi rock, the first Indian incarnation of rock as an independent genre, heavy metal, and EDM.

Indian Rock One of the most revolutionary bands of the 1980s, Rock Machine, began as a rock cover band, playing the songs of Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, Pink Floyd, Whitesnake and other 1980s hits. Founded in 1984, Rock Machine is considered India’s first original rock band, and was the first rock band to do a national tour after their album Rock‘n’Roll Renegade (1988) (Hazarika 1989). Although their style was highly derivative of the 1980s hair and hard rock bands, Rock Machine represented a turning point in rock band history in India. In 1988, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi requested that Rock Machine, along with Louis Banks and Gary Lawyer, join the Indian Council for Cultural Relations tour to the Soviet Union, part of a cultural exchange program to promote India abroad that was established in 1950 (UNESCO n.d.).

Figure 5.4  Rock Machine Source: pending

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Rock Machine came along just at the cusp of two sweeping reforms –​digital media’s world dominance with corporations such as MTV reaching into all corners of the globe, and the gradual loosening of some of India’s post-​Independence market restrictions. Not many bands were making videos at the time, but Rock Machine mastered the MTV video genre with “choreographed dueling guitars, smoke machines, torn jeans,”big hair,” and aggressive gestures” (Booth 2013, 234). Early in the band’s career their music was pirated, as was much music at the time, but their growing popularity propelled them out of the college festival circuit and into the national spotlight, prompting a name change from Rock Machine to Indus Creed in 1993. The band’s name change served to maintain their Indian identity as they reached out internationally. This makeover largely coincided with the arrival of MTV in India in 1992. They won the MTV Asian Viewers Choice Award; songs such as “Top of the Rock”11 were put on heavy rotation, and their hit song “Pretty Child”12 was named the ninth best video of the year by MTV. They broke up in 1997 because of changes in the music industry, but they presided over the largest single obstacle that Indian bands faced –​being taken seriously. Metal By the late 1980s, metal had followed rock as a quintessential part of the Indian music scene. Metal artists were highly inspired by the sounds of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Iron Maiden –​a group that has toured India regularly for decades. Millennium, a thrash metal band formed in Bangalore in 1988, was one of the first and most influential metal bands in India. The group began unofficially in 1986, when members and several other bands hosted a concert called “The Eternal Spirit of Iron Maiden,” in which they covered the entire Iron Maiden album Live after Death. The fan turnout was quite large, despite the fact that metal was still underground in India. Afterwards, Millenium went from playing Iron Maiden covers to creating their own music. The song “Peace just in Heaven” from their eponymous 1994 album, one of their best known, was featured on MTV Asia’s Headbanger’s Ball. Since Millennium was one of the first metal bands in India, their audiences were often new to the genre, and didn’t know what to expect. At the time, the band performed knowing that the audience might not like what they were about. “We would just carry on…we had nothing to lose,” states Vehrnon Ibrahim, lead vocalist for Millennium. The band went on to open for Deep Purple, No Doubt, and Megadeth on their India tours, solidifying their lead status in the genre (Indian Music Mug 2017). Metal’s popularity continued into the 2000s, with one event heralded as a high mark –​ the Iron Maiden Eddfest Rock and Metal Festival held in Bangalore, 2007, which drew an estimated crowd of between 25,000 and 40,000 concert goers (Sharma 2013). The ripple effect from this concert was palpable. One band that benefited directly was Parikrama, a Delhi-​based band selected by Iron Maiden to open at the Download Festival in the UK in June of 2007. In 2008, a rock and metal festival called Rock ‘n India was established in Bangalore. This festival featured international and national bands performing for a full day, with line-​ups including Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Machine Head, and national artists such as Parikrama, Motherjane, Millennium, Pentagram, Kryptos, Inner Sanctum, and Thermal and a Quarter. Metallica’s concert was attended by over 40,000 fans, marking a turning point for the popularity of metal in India. One of the most successful metal bands in India is Demonic Resurrection, which won the magazine

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Metal Hammer’s Golden God award for global metal in 2010. Demonic Resurrection, a blackened death metal band from Mumbai (2000), also has an outside-​India recording contract with a UK company, Candlelight Records, and distributes their music in the UK and US (Hayden 2012). INDIAN METAL BANDS According to the Metal Archives, India has approximately 200 bands in the metal category, including grindcore, thrash, symphonic, deathcore, metalcore, and others.13 • • • • • • • • • •

Millennium (1988–​present, Bangalore), thrash/​metal. Themes: pain, metal. Post Mark (1988–​present, Imphal, Manipur), thrash/​heavy metal. Metal Aliens in Devil’s Soul (M.A.I.D.S.) (1990s, Madras), Vedic/​metal. Rudra (1992–​present, Singapore), thrash/​death metal then death/​black metal with folk influence. Themes: Vedic, Hindu philosophy, mythology. Dying Embrace (1996–​present, Bangalore), death/​doom metal. Themes: misanthropy, death, sorrow, occult. Threinody (1996–​present, Bangalore), progressive thrash metal. Themes: war, reincarnation, solitude, the human condition. Kryptos (1998–​ present, Bangalore), thrash/​ metal. Themes:  mythology, occult, sci-​fi, paranormal. Demonic Resurrection (2000–​ present) Themes:  darkness, sadness, fantasy, war. Bhanayak Maut (2003–​present, Mumbai), Themes:  violence, misanthropy, society. Skyharbor (2010–​present, Global), progressive metal. Exists as a global entity, with members from the US, Delhi, and Mumbai. This band is a result of internet interest after song uploads that brought the members together.14

INDIAN ROCK VS. HINDI ROCK Indian rock is a genre that incorporates elements of rock with those of Indian music. The early Indian rock bands were Rock Machine, Postmark, Phynyx, Axecalibre, Drixian Empire, among others. The term Hind or Hindi Rock refers to those rock bands who sing in Hindi, such as Euphoria. GOAN TRANCE MUSIC Goa, originally a Portuguese colonial settlement, was home to Western sensibilities and music for hundreds of years (see Chapter  4). Goa’s beaches became a hippie destination in the 1960s and continue as a famous site and party destination even today. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Goan trance music (also known as trance-dance) was born, evolving from a combination of EDM with India’s

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industrial and spiritual culture. The music is associated with trance parties, and lyrics tend towards religion (Hinduism, other Eastern religions) and the psychedelic. DJs like Paul Oakenfold began incorporating the Goan trance music form and popularizing it abroad. Paul played a full hour set on the BBC introducing Goan trance, titled the “Goa Mix,” on December 16, 1994, which became one of the most requested broadcasts on BBC radio.15 Metal appeals only to a small fragment of the population who desire a unique and visceral type of music that captures their frustrations and emotions in ways that rock does not. Indian heavy metal audiences found an outlet in heavy metal that allows them to release pent up anger over the highly restrictive pressures of teenage life in India, filled with expectations for high grades, college, and a good job. Sahil Makhija, vocalist for Demonic Resurrection, in an interview with the New York Times, states that metal is a rebellion against the family life and religious obsessions [which are] built into Indian culture (Hayden 2012). Given the audience size for this genre, however, one can conclude that the majority of music fans currently prefer mainstream Indian film music at this point. India’s Contribution to Acid House With little good equipment and a nascent independent music scene, it is difficult to think that India could be the source of a new genre that would soon be popular around the world, but this is what happened. In “100 Years and Loud,” Sneha Virmani mentions musician Charanjit Singh, who created a recording entitled Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat. In this original composition, Singh places a rapid, almost techno beat to different Indian raga-​s performed on synthesizer, and utilizes the remnants of the characteristic 1980s disco sound. Singh, a studio musician in Bollywood, played synthesizer and guitar, and worked with some of the great music directors (Shankar–​ Jaikishan, R. D. Burman). Although his original fusion idea was not a success, it was rediscovered years later, with some music critics referring to him as the founder of Acid House (Pattison 2010). Today, Singh’s foresight in combining Indian classical raga-​s with an innovative acid or trance style very early on in 1982 is considered to have created a revolutionary album. ROCK TO THE RESCUE Bands often performed for fundraisers after international and national tragedies, giving them increased national exposure and good marketing lent themselves to fundraise for national and international tragedies. In 1984, India experienced a horrific accident in the form of a gas leak in Bhopal at the Union Carbide factory. Cited as the worst industrial disaster in the world, it exposed over 500,000 to the gas, and there were estimates of 38,000 injuries and between 4,000 and 16,000 deaths. AID Bhopal featured Gary Lawyer, Rock Machine, Louis Banks, and Remo Fernandez, and raised 2.5 lakh16 from a crowd of 10,000 in Mumbai. The concert was inspired by Live Aid, which had happened just a few months earlier in London and Philadelphia.

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In addition, the AIDS Control Society in Meghalaya works with musicians to help spread the word through a battle of the bands event. AIDS hit Indian particularly hard as the country’s high illiteracy rate and lack of public health awareness and difficulties communicating how the disease is spread. Music can play a vital role in this effort by destigmatizing the disease, and spreading the word in an entertaining and aural format.

The 1990s: Indian Rock Comes into its Own The 1990s bands continued to produce excellent musicianship, repertoire, creativity, and authentic, Indian-​grown rock and pop music. With powerful Indi-​pop musicians such as Alisha Chinai taking independent music to a new level of popularity (see Chapter 4), independent music was at a crossroads. Alisha showed that Indi-​pop musicians could sing in either English or Hindi, and be equally popular. IDENTITY, REPRESENTATION, MARKETING: HOW TO START A BAND IN INDIA Starting a band anywhere in the world is a challenge, but what are the unique obstacles a group might face in India? The typical scenario is to listen to a particular genre of music for years, fall in love with and idolize those artists, then meet friends in college and start a band. Usually the band is comprised of males, not all of whom may even know how to play their instrument yet. After informally jamming, learning from others, scouring the internet for tabs, and doing a lot of practicing of basic chords on guitar or rhythms on the drums, get a set of songs together, usually covers, but originals work as well. CHALLENGE 1: GOALS AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS FOR YOUR BAND Decide early on what your goals are. How will you compose your music? What will you write about? Are you looking to be internationally known? Locally known? How will your sound and identity embody those goals? Deciding this will help you know how to proceed. Ritesh Khokhar, a former member of Bandish and Country Manager and Director of Rockschool, Ltd., notes a band’s “struggle to find their sound as they are typically split between what they want to produce and what the market would want. The former is important for their own satisfaction and later for their pockets.” Indian artists must represent, but represent what and whom? If you sound too American or British, you might be called out, and if you sound too Indian, you might be typecast by the international community as an “Indian” band rather than just a “band” known on its own terms. Sahej Bakshi of Dualist Inquiry, an Indie electronica band started in 2010, asks, “Does an Indian artist who wants to make it abroad need to sound Indian? That is the general expectation. In a sense, advantage and disadvantage [we want to…] stand out from American artists, but we get put in a box. We want to stand side by side with other artists…” (Standing By, 2015 documentary on Indian rock).

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CHALLENGE 2: REPRESENTING Aside from the genre of music the band plays, the language you sing in will be important to the group’s future. Indians are usually multilingual, often speaking three languages that represent their regional, national, and global connections. Although some bands do not have this discussion, others go through great soul-​searching trying to be true to themselves as Indians in selecting a representative language. Some create and think better in one language, and naturally stick with that language, while others think about their audiences and how they are representing themselves. Are they Indian? Western? Who is their audience? If they sing in English rather than in Malayalam, Bengali or Tamil they might be more accepted abroad, but they might be labeled as sellouts. Palash Sen of Euphoria explains in the 2015 documentary Standing By that after listening to his songs someone questioned him about who he is singing about, pointing out that he is talking about the life of an American, and not an Indian. Palash realized that he was avoiding singing in his mother tongue and reflected on why that was. Was he ashamed of singing in Hindi? Did he believe singing in Hindi would make him a desi, which he wanted to avoid? He realized then that he was, in fact, a desi, and began to sing from there. Soon after this, “Dhoom” was released: one of their biggest hits in 1998 (Kumari 2018). CHALLENGE 3: BOLLYWOOD How will you carve your niche in relation to the Indian film industry? Will your music cross over? Are you interested in performing only independently, or will you sing, compose, or play for films as well? Will you be less authentic if you did this, or is your band okay with it? Or is there enough disdain of cinema to preclude it? CHALLENGE 4: MAKING IT IN THE INDUSTRY Begin performing in your college, doing intercollegiate band competitions. Win those competitions, go on to other competitions. Try to find venues where you can play. This will be difficult since venues are shutting down, and there is no clear-​cut way to make it into the industry from these venues. In an interview with Gaurav Vaz, manager of the Raghu Dixit Project, he states: In the west you have really small clubs, and can perform for a small number of 20–​50 people. Then there’s a circuit of clubs for 50 people. Word spreads, and the musician gets 200 people, from there 500, 1000 then 5000 and stadium. This doesn’t exist in India. If you start a band today, you will be playing same venue, infrastructure severely challenged, venues are shutting down. Can’t survive on small groups.

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Coming full circle, Gaurav suggests going back to doing Bollywood covers for weddings to make a living.17 Obstacles that young musicians face trying to make a career are summarized by Ritesh Khokhar (Rockschool, Ltd) in the list below: • •

Stiff competition as number of artists have exploded in last 10–​15 years. Getting a band together:  Since majority of performing musicians are not professionally trained, bands struggle with getting their music together. Typically, it would take months of jamming in practice pads for a setlist to be put together because bands try to arrange and even compose the music in the practice room. • The concept of band mentors is currently rather weak, else a good mentor would be a great help to these new bands. • Money drives it all: if you don’t have regular gigs, musicians run out of steam and give up. Some crazy musicians give up on band just because they don’t like the genre of music despite making good money too. • Lack of consultancy:  there are hardly any consultants to guide young musicians in the best direction, i.e. music education, music business, branding and marketing, music production, social media, etc. • Artist managers: This is one crucial person bands need today to land good and regular gigs. There are hardly any reliable professionals in this field. • Band managers: This is the person appointed to market the band in absence of Artist Manager, it is typically one of the band members who takes care of branding outreach and marketing. These are not MBAs and typically have no professional knowledge in this area of work, hence reducing the chances of success for the band considerably. • Social Media: This area of marking is constantly evolving with new tools of marking released on regular basis. To manage a social media profile is absolutely essential for a band to reach their audience. Typically, bands don’t budget for this and have little idea on how to effectively build their audience. • Brand Management: Today every band is a small business and they need to learn to manage their image. They need to know what they want to be known for, i.e. their USPs, so they land the right gigs that is both good for keeping the band inspired and keeping their bank accounts funded.18 HINDI ROCK

Euphoria is considered one of India’s first Hindi rock bands. The band was formed in 1988 in Delhi by Dr Palash Sen, a medical student, and his friends, who were committed to performing music and indeed believed they had a madness for it. According to Sen, the title Euphoria came from the second stage of the psychological disorder hypomania, as he gleaned from his medical studies (Kumari 2018). Euphoria was a pioneer in the

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Indian pop scene. They began with English lyrics, performing to a band of guitars, keyboard, and drums, and then later found their niche with Hindi rock when the genre took off. Their big breakthrough album was Dhoom in 1998, with their hit “Dhoom Pichak Dhoom,” one of the top videos of the decade. Palash Sen attributes the band’s success to acknowledging their nativist roots: “Rock is really not our music, we have adopted it… it’s not our way of life.” Palash recalls an industry executive named Mr Pandit giving some advice and encouraging him to sing in his own language: To be big as a brand, you first have to be big with your own people, and your own people speak Hindi, understand Hindi, they don’t understand rock, and they’re not so familiar with English. They like it, they want to be that but it’s aspirational. It’s not part of them. What’s the most dominant music in the country? There’s actually film music, and then there’s Indi pop. (Standing By 2015, Episode 4) Euphoria encapsulates the sentiments of trying to make it in a band in the song “Hind Rock ’n’ Roll ”19 (1999). They sing in both English and Hindi and express what most bands talk about –​making it in the industry. The twist here is the last line, “We are Indian and this is Hind Rock ’n’ Roll,” which delineates the identity struggle of working in a genre that is perceived as non-​indigenous. The feelings expressed in that line are directed equally towards Indians who are still skeptical of Western music, and non-​Indians who feel that the genre is being co-​opted. Now we can’t be a hard rocking band Coz its much too much for them to take And they don’t want us to work with a company for heaven’s sake They said we’re never gonna make it big, and we never gonna reach the top But it’s hard to change our attitude and do Hindi Pop Hum hai Hindustani, hai yeh Hind Rock ‘n’ Roll We are Indian, and this is Hind Rock ‘n’ Roll The seriousness that emanated from the 1990s bands is directly attributable to the rise and influence of MTV. The music television channel altered both the offerings and expectations of what independent music should sound like and offered space for groups to focus on more complex alternatives to pop music. In this way, most bands (Rock Machine/​ Indus Creed) were able to pursue less pop-​oriented sounds, which gave breathing room for other genres, particularly metal and hard rock bands, in order to thrive. DELHI BANDS THAT ROCKED INDIA IN THE 1990S INDIAN OCEAN In 1990, the pioneering band Indian Ocean formed in New Delhi. This band would continue the fusion compositional style from earlier decades, but due to the timing in post-​liberal India and heavy rotation on MTV, they would also become one of

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India’s biggest bands. The band blends folk music with raga and rock, and relies heavily on experimentation. The band prefers the description of an unnamed critic who says that the band combines “Indo-​rock fusion with jazz-​spiced rhythms that integrate shlokas (a Sanskrit couplet), sufism, environmentalism, mythology, and revolution.” In the Rolling Stones top 25 songs from India, Indian Ocean had two –​ “Ma Rewa” and “Kandisa” from their Kandisa album (2008). “Kandisa,” one of Indian Ocean’s biggest hits, is a powerful song with ancient overtones. The opening vocalization or call is a Syrian (a recent version of Aramaic) prayer sung in the Syrian Catholic Orthodox church, generally meaning “Praise, Divine, Praise.” The call is sung in open fourths, which simulates a trumpet or horn signal for gathering people. Beneath this chant we hear a guitar’s gentle yet unchanging drone-​like arpeggios, followed by voices in thirds singing “Alum, Alum, Alum,” and more of the chant. The signature sound of Indian Ocean is guitarist Susmit Sen’s open-​stringed drones that weave in and out of the raga-​like melodies. The band embraced this unique sound after realizing that Indian bands should play their own music and not play covers, regardless of what they sound like or think they sound like. Says Rahul Ram of the band, “If you shut your eyes, we still sound different from a western band” (Standing By 2015, Episode 4). Indian Ocean’s fame, however, came through Indian film. Their song “Bandeh” from the film Black Friday (2007) became a huge hit (the film concerned the Mumbai bombings in 1993). The movie itself was not successful, but that one song launched Indian Ocean into stardom after 15 years of struggle. Parikrama is a Delhi-​based rock band, formed in 1991. The name Parikrama refers to the Hindu or Buddhist ritual of moving clockwise around an object of devotion, such as a temple, as an act of worship.They have not released an album yet, but they have an unusual approach to marketing and distributing their music in that they prefer to have all their songs available to everyone for free download and distribution. Similar to other bands, they combine Indian classical instruments with typical rock instruments They’ve opened for Iron Maiden on tour, and their biggest hit “But it Rained”(1996), about kidnappings in Kashmir, is on the Rolling Stone India top 25 Indian rock songs of the past 25 years. Euphoria is another Delhi band. They formed in 1988, rode the Indi-​pop wave in the 1990s, and became one of the leading proponents of Hind rock, particularly with their hit “Dhoom Pichak Dhoom” (1998). Euphoria was one of the only bands to rival Bollywood in terms of videos. They toured extensively in Europe, the US, and elsewhere, and their single “Maeri” (2011) became their signature tune.

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Figure 5.5  Indian Ocean Source: Rangilo Gujarati [CC BY-​SA 3.0] https://​​wiki/​File:Indian_​Ocean_​ by_​Rangilo_​Gujarati.jpg

Figure 5.6  Vishal Dadlani in Pentagram (2012) Source: rejaul arsad [CC BY 2.0 (https://​​licenses/​by/​2.0)]

CLOSE-​UP: VISHAL DADLANI AND PENTAGRAM Perhaps the person who best encapsulates the complex relationship between independent rock and Bollywood scenes in India is Vishal Dadlani. In 1993, Vishal and three other members founded the group Pentagram in Mumbai, focusing on

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an alternative rock sound. Pentagram is considered a pioneer of the independent music scene, and their history parallels the evolution of the country’s band scene from cover music to homegrown lyrics and influences (Shah 2011). Initially, as discussed earlier, bands were required to play cover songs and their worth was determined by how derivative their sound was of the big international bands (Metallica, Van Halen, Pearl Jam, etc.). In an interview with Rolling Stone India, Vishal Dadlani states: I remember way back, right at the beginning, ’95-​ish, we got really famous for playing a version of Pearl Jam’s “Alive.” And we got famous because we played it like Pearl Jam. Then a newspaper article appeared saying we were playing IIT Bombay and it said, “Come check out their version of Pearl Jam” or some shit like that. So we just stopped playing the track.20 (James 2011) Pentagram won many several major rock band competitions, one of which led to a record deal. They released their first album We Are Not Listening in 1996, which won MTV’s best new artist album. Indian rock feels uneasy airing social protests, very different than in the West. Pentagram’s “The Price of Bullets” was a highly censored anti-​war protest song against the Kargil War, a 1999 conflict between India and Pakistan. It was the first studio to promote internet song, and featured classical artist Shankar Mahadevan and lyrics by Javed Akhtar. Don’t kill your fellow man Over a piece of land Try to understand That’s just what they want you to do. When it’s done, who do you think will be the one To shoulder the burden… The song was immediately blacklisted for being against the war amidst Indian nationalistic fervor, even though Pentagram was criticizing war in general. In an interview on Daily News and Analysis (DNA), the lyricist Akhtar states “Rock music is restricted; there is heavy censorship on everything. Anyone who talks anti-​war is termed anti-​national.” “Music gets political when literature and poetry start getting political which will not happen as long as the society is insular to the existing problems. We don’t identify with Assam and Meghalaya, farmers committing suicide in Karnataka or women leading a naked march.” Lead singer Vishal Dadlani states, “Music channels stopped playing ‘Price of bullets’ with no explanations.” According to him, with Bollywood and pop there is no space for such issues (DNA India 2005). Their next album Up, released in 2002, saw their transformation into a more electronica-​based sound. As with Bob Dylan’s use of electric guitar at the Newport

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Festival in 1965, many fans were critical of the move. Says DJ Johnny B.  in his online journal: Now, Pentagram had a lot of haters. Them being the first to bring in the ‘electronica’ sound to the metal/​rock junta, not many were impressed…I was amazed though. I loved them even more since that Up album dropped, which is still one of the greatest Indie rock albums in my opinion. (B. 2018) Nevertheless, Pentagram helped launch Vishal’s Bollywood music career as part of the music director duo Vishal-Shekhar who composed for films such as Jhankaar Beats, Bluff Master, and Salaam Namaste as part of the Vishal–​Shekhar duo. The band’s 2007 album It’s OK, It’s all Good had a song called “Voice,”21 which earned song of the year while Vishal was named vocalist of the year. The lyrics resonated powerfully for fans, who found that the sentiment helped them not only listen to others’ voices but reflected the feelings of those whose opinions were ignored: “This song is all about having a voice and being heard” (Gurudattr 2011). Fans even created their own video to the song.22 Are we gonna ask the questions that scare me are we gonna break the bonds of silence cuz there are words that must be said and there are words that must be heard and that they’re not as really quite absurd and there’s a footstep in the clouds. In many fan’s minds, however, Vishal “sold out” when he went to the “music making business of Bollywood.” Afterwards, Pentagram released another album addressing this very issue. The album, Bloodywood (2011), was meant to explore the relationship between the mainstream Bollywood film industry and the underground, independent music scene. As Vishal explains in 2013 on the MJ show, Bloodywood is meant to represent the underside of Bombay. Bombay has this massive Bollywood imagery and but more importantly, Bwood has a very vibrant nascent underground scene, loads of bands, loads of people, saying things that the mainstream doesn’t necessarily say, and thinking in ways that the mainstream doesn’t…Bwood is primarily a money making machine, and starting to tell stories again which is wonderful. All of the people telling the stories in Bollywood have come up from this Bloodywood. It’s a wonderful counterpoint, a place of edge. Equally rooted in Bombay, and it’s important for all of us to admit that and accept it and love it. No point trying to be somebody else.”23 Other tracks on the album include “Lovedrug Climbdown,” “Nocturne,” and “Tomorrow’s Decided,” all of which are Bollywood based and explore the nuances of this once dualistic relationship between industries.

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Regional Rock As with most things, India works at the regional level even more than the national. This section introduces a few of the regions in which independent music blossomed, and some of the local contextual issues facing musicians.

The Northeast Hindi-​Urdu is the lingua franca in most of North India, with Hindi film music providing a basic repertoire or canon of songs. In areas of the northeast, however, a diversity of local languages and dialects among tribes and groups, coupled with a high Christian missionary presence, resulted in English and Western classical music making inroads into the culture. Christian missionaries built and contributed to the educational system in the area, bringing with them Western music, harmony, and performance. Children in states like Manipur and Nagaland, both with populations under 3 million, and Assam (population 30 million), learn choral singing and vocal harmonies in school learn the fundamentals of Western music theory, learn Western instruments, and perform in church choirs, singing hymns and other religious anthems in harmony. This background results in highly trained musicians who go on to perform, teach, and create bands, many of which are highly successful. Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, has a long and interesting relationship with Western music with a history that extends back to the dance hall days with the foxtrot, waltz, and other popular dance forms thriving. Later, a fair number of rock groups originated in Shillong, including the Fentones, the Vanguards, Blood and Thunder, Great Society, and metal and hip-​hop groups Aberrant, Plague Throat, and others. Rock appeared as a force early on with the Fentones, the early Shillong rock group that won the fourth annual famed Simla Beat Contest in 1970/​1971. Shillong is often referred to as India’s capital of rock and metal due to the number of excellent bands, although this title is disputed as being highly overexaggerated (Swer 2015). Nevertheless, part of this moniker concerns the general reputation that the northeast has for high levels of musicianship and number of early bands that were so successful, and the image sustained by the Indian film industry (e.g. the filming of Rock On 2 in 2008 occurred in Shillong). Nevertheless, in order to uphold this title, the Meghalaya government supports many musicians, even requiring a large number of concerts to be produced each year in a show of government support of the arts.24 Manipur is another northeastern state with a big independent music presence. Phynyx, a band from Manipur, began in the late 1980s, touring India through the college circuit and competing and winning the Mood Indigo Contest in Mumbai for best band and drummer. Early groups in the 1960s and 1970s such as The Magnetos and Blue Stars, inspired Phynyx, which was voted one of the top five bands in India by readers of the Rock Street Journal, alongside Millennium (Bangalore), Parikrama (Delhi), Indus Creed, and Agni (Pune) (Pudaite n.d.). According to Sando, one of the lead singers of Phynyx, they were inspired by both Led Zeppelin and the Magnetos.25 Rock vocal styles varied, but the lyrics were sung mostly in English. As elsewhere, early bands had a difficult time obtaining quality instruments due to restrictions on imports. Recordings, therefore, require the listener to hear past the poor instrument quality for the composition and musicianship. Lack of resources, revenue and infrastructure continue to be a problem in the northeast, with few appropriate venues or support. In the

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1980s and 1990s, fetes were commonly held, where people could gather to hear local bands (Shillong Times 2011). Fetes became a way to raise money for different purposes. In addition, musicians in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, and elsewhere faced resistance from religious groups as well as general society regarding their musical choice, including opposition from the Christian church. Other notable bands from Manipur, include Dark Krusaders/​Dixian Empire, with lead vocalist Jessy Ralte, specialized in heavy metal rock, and often covered Ozzy Osbourne. The band performs an original song, “Nowhere to Run,”26 dressed like the Beatles in full suits, in what looks like the lobby of hotel. Their sound captures the classic heavy metal ballad style with a fuzzy, distorted lead guitar solos along the lines of Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead. The lead singer is mournful and seemingly “authentic” in a way that is solidified through nostalgia. Another example of a headbanging band is Manipur’s Postmark singing “Metal Age” (“Stamp on You,” 1989).27 In this concert footage, the band’s hard-​driving power chords and distorted, rough, and throaty growls, along with their headbanging, evoke Brian Johnson of AC/​DC.

The Bangalore Music Scene The southern Indian city of Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka, and is the third largest megacity in India and eighteenth largest city in the world, with a population over 10 million. Bangalore, or Bengaluru as it is now called, is home to India’s International Institute of Information Technology, a leading IT exporter, and claims the monikers “Silicon Valley of India” and “India’s IT capital.” Its globalized workforce and high-​tech industry are large factors in Bengaluru’s highly educated workforce –​one of the most educated in the world. Its population is globally-aware and diverse. Like other large Indian cities, Bengaluru is home to many teams playing an array of the usual colonial sports as well as Indian (badminton, tennis, football [soccer]), as well as the Indian game of kabaddi,28 plus American football and basketball. Its energetic underground music scene has also earned Bengaluru the label as India’s rock/​metal capital. Although there is no one specific reason why it earned that moniker, many attribute it to the high number of Anglo-​Indians in the city, or the technology industry that is driving the support for rock at the center of India’s IT belt. Some of the most successful bands to emerge from Bangalore are the Raghu Dixit Project, Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ) (see Chapter 7), Abandoned Agony, Kryptos, and Inner Sanctum. Bengaluru’s music scene, awash in post-​hippie energy, began making waves in the 1980s long before the tech industry dominated the scene, through the efforts of a businessman, Shorab Rubina, in setting aside some land for musicians to play. Known as the Bangalore Music Strip, this outdoor location was in Cubbon Park where musicians would jam on Friday and Saturday nights and on Sundays. Musicians who played were called “Strip-​pers” and came from all over the region to jam, bringing their instruments with them. The Strip was shut down after a few years as it became associated with drinking and decadent behavior (Bd. 2008). In 1996, Geetha and Gopal Navale and a few others revived the jam on Independence Day and held it once a month, calling it Freedom Jam. Established bands such as Human Bondage and many others performed, with a group of new bands getting their start here such as Kryptos, TAAQ, and Lounge Piranha. Those who found themselves at the jam could get up and play for as long as they liked. There was no time limit, and no judgments, and anyone was allowed to play. According to

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Standing By (2015, Episode 4), the Jam was huge but had no sponsors until it was raided by the police one night at 3 am, and then there were sponsors. Levi’s took over sponsorship of the Sunday jams until 2010. THERMAL AND A QUARTER One of the most popular bands from Bangalore, and indeed from India, is Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ), which has had some international success with a tour of the UK (Rolling Stone India 2013). This rock band began in 1996 and has only three members as opposed to the typical four –​bass, guitar, and drums. They perform self-​described Bangalore rock. Their biggest boost came from opening for Deep Purple in 2001, and Guns n’ Roses in 2012 when they came to India (see Chapter 7 for more on TAAQ).

Mumbai and Central India Mumbai (formally known as Bombay), is India’s contemporary entertainment hub, the center of Bollywood, and a vibrant, cosmopolitan middle class. Mumbai’s status as an international city helps to secure its progressive mindset on many fronts, including social attitudes and experimentation. Mumbai played a prominent role in the independent music world, as it was home to the great Independence Rock Festival and the early Simla Beat Contest, as well as some of the earliest and biggest bands in Indian rock such as the Combustibles, the Jets, and the Savages, and later, Indus Creed (formerly Rock Machine). The Combustibles were known to perform original music long before it was standard to do so in India, and Rock Machine set the bar as India’s first major rock band. More contemporary notable rock and metal bands from Mumbai are Pentagram (see above), Bhayanak Maut, Demonic Resurrection, one of India’s oldest metal bands (see above), Goddess Gagged, and Scribe. MUMBAI’S RANG BHAVAN Many of the fledgling music concerts of old were held at specific venues. One of the most fondly remembered is Rang Bhavan, an outdoor venue in Bombay located next to Saint Xavier’s Jesuit College. In 1986, two rock bands, Rock Machine and Mirage, were to play at a college festival named Malhar when the school’s director found out that the groups were rock musicians rather than pop. At the time, the negative associations of rock music found elsewhere in the world were also believed in India –​including rock being the music of the devil. When the Jesuits found out the genre of these bands they would not condone the concert at the College (Booth 2013, 232–​233). Next to the college, however, was Rang Bhavan auditorium, and it was suggested that the concert be moved there. This location was the beginning of the Independence Rock Music festival –​the idea of which also spread to other cities throughout India. The concert organizer, Farhad Wadia, was a member of Mirage, who ran the festival for decades. It was also known as I-​Rock, and many of India’s top rock bands played there such as Brahma, Parikrama, and Pentagram. In 2003,

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however, it was rendered useless as a venue as the local government declared the area a “silent zone” due to its proximity to a local hospital. Without amplification, the location was of no use. Despite massive petitioning on the part of musicians all over India, the decision was not reversed and Rang Bhavan closed down.

Kolkata In Calcutta, the Bangla rock scene began taking off with bands such as Krosswindz (1990), who played a blend of Bengali-​rock and folk fusion (1990), the hard rock group, Fossils (1998), and Bhoomi (1999), a Bengali urban folk band. Calcutta’s alternative rock scene continued with Chandrabindoo (1998), Cactus (1992), and Cassini’s Division (2001). The blend of Bengali lyrics and folk music with various popular music forms (blues, psychedelic, rock, alternative) has popularized rock and pop for almost a generation. Bands such as Chandrabindoo covered local political and social concerns, and Krosswindz covered Moheener Ghoraguli’s “Prithibita naki” (see above, this chapter), a song that concerns the impact of television on youth culture, making it an even bigger hit than its original. Most of these bands competed at big festivals such as Independence Rock. By the late 2000s, however, Bengali film music began to eclipse Bangla rock, and become very popular. Television channels followed film music, and ignored independent bands and artists.

The New Music Scene: Fusion Rock and Beyond Contemporary Music Festivals Indian rock festivals are significant and essential to the life of the contemporary music scene, promoting younger and newer bands into the limelight. By the 2000s, the transition to full blown mega festivals fueled by a large online social media presence was underway. India now has over 25 mega music festivals and countless smaller festivals each year. These experiential-​based gatherings have crowd sizes that rival and even exceed the largest festivals in the world. For example, Coachella, the largest music festival in the US, saw just under 200,000 in attendance, whereas Sunburn Festival in Goa, had an audience of 350,000 in 2015 (Live Mint 2016). Young Indians are now festival goers, with one statistic indicating that Indians prefer to hear music at festivals or large-​scale music events for 36% of their live music consumption.29 Larger festivals also offer a wide range of choices as multiple bands perform on different stages –​something attractive to concertgoers. And of course, with large festivals come large costs and the need for large corporate sponsors. Companies have supported the independent music scene in India from the beginning. Furtado’s Music, one of the oldest music companies in India, provided instruments to bands, while larger companies such as the International Tobacco Company popularized music with the Simla Beat Contest. Now, the sponsoring corporations are international. For example, Red Bull sponsors a tour bus that carries popular rock artists across India to perform. The tour bus doubles as a convertible stage and is known as the stage-​on-​wheels. In 2010, Bacardi founded the NH7 Weekender, a mega festival marketed as the Happiest Music Festival. This Bacardi-​sponsored annual

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festival is produced by Only Much Louder (OML Entertainment) run by Vijay Nair,30 and travels across seven cities in the span of one month. The music festival website states: There’s Bollywood, Hindustani classical and acoustic sets for some. There’s post-​rock, progressive metal and Carnatic fusion for others. There’s electronic rhythm and blues, chillwave, future soul, rap, and every other genre whose name we couldn’t invent when we had to publish this, all making their way to the happiest music festival. (NH7 2014) Festivals are highly diverse, representing different genres and audiences. Some cater to international bands while others are strictly Indian and feature a range of contemporary genres. The Harley Rock Riders festival in Mumbai, for example (aka “The mayhem of music and motorcycles”), ran for ten years from 2007 to 2016, and showcased the latest motorcycles. It featured heavy metal and thrash metal acts like Megadeth, the Wailers, Indian death metal band Demonic Resurrection, punk dance band F16s from Chennai/​ Bangalore (2012), Bhayanak Maut (“Horrific Death”) from Mumbai, and other famous non-​metal bands such as Indus Creed.31 SMALLER FESTIVALS Magnetic Fields Festival Rajasthan was started by Abhimanyu Alsisar in 2014, and is annually hosted by Alsisar Mahal every December. This colorfully lit festival features a mixture of contemporary music and arts with traditional Rajasthani heritage. This festival mainly features international music with electronic and ambient aesthetics. Hornbill Festival, Nagaland is also known as “The Festival of Festivals.” It first began in 2000 and occurs every first week in December. While Nagaland has several festivals for each of its distinct tribes, this festival is meant to promote cultural and artistic commerce among the tribes from the region. Shimla Festival Since 1960 this festival has been occurring annually as a 10 day event every summer. It celebrates the approach of summer and the culture of Shimla. This festival features famous musicians and artists, and those local to Shimla as well. VH1 Supersonic originated in 2013. It is one of India’s largest EDM festivals. The official website states that VH1 Supersonic has gone on to become the country’s biggest multi-​genre experiential festival…featuring artists such as… DJ Major Lazer, Incubus, and Nucleya. Enchanted Valley Festival originated in 2013 and has grown to become India’s largest music festival. It is known to unite many different genres of music such as electronic, techno, pop and indie into one setting. It is produced by Twisted Entertainment and Universal Music India.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Imphal, Manipur. In the spirit of Pete Seeger, Ronid Chingangbam, guitarist for the Imphal Talkies band, organized a festival that captured Seeger’s philosophy from the 60s in an attempt to stop what he sees as a slide into a youth that lacks participation in the arts. Most bands love Seeger’s music, and the festival sees 6,000–​ 10,000 attendees. (Rock Street Journal Online 2018a)

NO GRUNGE? Certain international genres become highly popular in India, capturing the Indian imagination while others did not. From the 1920s jazz era, Dixieland, bebop, swing, and big band were popular, as was beat, then rock, heavy metal, electronica, hardcore, and fusion. Rock and metal are the backbone of independent popular music. One genre however, never quite caught on in India –​grunge, as explained in an interview in Rock Street Journal with Amrit Mohan of the band Mocaine, a blues-​grunge  band: Grunge did not arrive in India. We completely missed the bus on that one. We got the pop remnants of what was grunge, and that too a decade after it was dead. Which is why we keep getting labeled as out and out grunge. We’re not. But people lack the frame of reference to fully understand that, and it’s often a quick jump to ‘oh, that’s so Cobain!’. It gets irritating pretty quickly, to be honest. (Rock Street Journal 2018b).32 Vedic Metal, Gully Rap Genres that are unique to India blend Indian with contemporary music. Two such genres are Sufi rock and Vedic metal.Vedic metal joins metal music with Hindu themes, and contains lyrics from the Sanskrit Vedas including passages of mantras (known as slokas), philosophy, and literature. The earliest Indian Vedic metal band getting its start in the early 1990s was M.A.I.D.S. (Metal Aliens in Devil’s Soul) from Madras. Rudra, one of the best known Vedic metal bands and a contemporary of M.A.I. D.S., was founded in Singapore in 1992. The band used an amalgamation of styles that they referred to as Vedic metal. The combination of sounds include very prominent Carnatic classical music sections along with avant-​garde, metal (death metal and black metal), and lyrics derived from Sanskrit (Vedic) literature, mantras, and philosophy. In “Hymns from the Blazing Chariot,” the band sings of Arjuna and Krishna’s discussion in the Bhagavad Gita. They open with a Vedic sloka and then launch into the song featuring scenes from the epic. Characteristic of Vedic metal, the band Dhruvaa, the band Dhruvaa sings lyrics from Vedic texts and ancient philosophers in Sanskrit, as well as composing original compositions. Dhruvaa, India’s only Sanskrit fusion ensemble, was founded in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, by a Sanskrit professor in 2014. The band is trying to popularize

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Figure 5.7  Logo for the band Rudra with Sanskrit and Hindi references

ancient Sanskrit texts by combining raga, traditional instruments and contemporary rhythms and instruments used in jazz and rock (Sandu 2008). Gully Rap

In the past few years, a new genre has emerged from the streets of Mumbai, known as gully rap, with gully being another word for narrow lane in Hindi. MC Divine (Vivian Fernandez) and Naezy (Naved Sheikh), both from the slums of Mumbai, are considered at the forefront of the genre. Gully rap uses the unique cadences and rhythms of the Hindi-​Urdu language to discuss issues of the disenfranchised and life on the streets. This hip-​hop genre is inspired by American rappers such as Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. Unlike Bollywood or mainstream desi rap in India, gully rap rejects the glamour and pretense of Bollywood, where lyrics focus only on superficial aspects of life (e.g. partying and girls). Naved Sheikh, who grew up on the crime-​ridden slums of Mumbai, states: The popular rappers in Bollywood just talk about girls and booze and parties, they are only talking about glamour and trying to sell a fake dream. I wanted to make music that spoke about fighting, and the murders and the violence that were a part of my life growing up –​and is the same for millions of others living in ghettoes across India. Divine’s lyrics discuss the brutal rapes that occur in India, specifically the 2012 rape in Delhi. The video”Mere Gully Mein” (“In My Street”) provides an example of the genre as the camera snakes through the streets of Mumbai showing daily life.33 Sony Music and Azadi records are backing these artists, with a Red Bull financing a documentary on the genre coming out in 2019 (Gurbaxani 2018). DJs and Electronica Dance music got its start early on in India, with the 1982 seminal album Synthesizing:  Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (see above, this chapter), thus breaking

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ground for digital synthesizers and similar electronic equipment. The birth of the contemporary DJ in India, however, got its start in the clubs of Britain, which were highly influenced from by Jamaican dancehall DJs. Toasting, or the almost monotone chatter found in Apache Indians’ work, is an example of this cross-​cultural interaction in British dance music (see Chapter  3). Early DJs in India had little in the way of digital synthesizers and other good equipment for the clubs in the 1990s and 2000s. Remixing the music of others was a highly successful practice in the growing club industry in India post 1990. DJs such as DJ Akbar Sami, DJ Akhil, and DJ Ivan achieved quick success remixing Bollywood and international pop songs, borrowing styles and techniques from international DJs. DJ Akbar Sami is considered a pioneer of DJing in India. He began when he was only 13 years old and mixed mostly Western genres. “I used to play a mix of House, Disco, Reggae, and Bollywood. I guess the first time a night club had heard a Hindi number was when I played ‘Jalwa’ ” (1996).34 On the negative side, many musicians felt that simply cutting and pasting tracks greatly curbed creativity, drawing incentive away from artists to produce their own originals. Within a few years, DJing had become a familiar entity in India’s pop music scene. Goa’s Sunburn Festival, founded in 2007 by Shailendra Singh (Thompson 2009), became a mecca for Indian and international DJs and partygoers and still continues annually at the end of December, with hundreds of artists, tens of thousands of fans from India and abroad, and DJs from Europe, the US, Asia, and the Middle East, South America. After 1996, other groups took up the electronica genre, including the MIDIval Pundits, EDM artist Sahej Bakshi known as Dualist Inquiry, and Nikhil Chinapa, a former MTV VJ, and electronica promoter through his company Submerge. He and his wife Pearl worked to establish music and dance clubs and traveled to Amsterdam to get music for the dance parties in India in these early years. BIGGER THAN BOLLYWOOD? PUNJABI MUSIC GOES INTERNATIONAL The 1990s saw a large group of breakthrough Punjabi artists such as Bally Sagoo, Sukshinder Shinda, Jazzy B (see Chapter 3), and Punjabi MC, whose hit “Mundiyan Baach ke Rahi” launched bhangra on the UK Indian scene. By the end of the 1990s, however, hip-​hop made its way into bhangra, in both live and pre-​taped versions. One new style that developed, called folkhop, mixes Punjabi vocals and hip-​hop over looped Punjabi beats and requires DJ processing rather than being performed live. This Punjabi-​dominated music provides India with its single biggest musical export outside of Bollywood. These international Punjabi superstars hail from India, Australia, the UK, and Canada, and they not only tour India but they are the only artists, apart from Bollywood musicians, that tour the world to this extent. Canada, in particular, has witnessed such population growth in the Punjabi community over the past several years that politicians such as PM Justin Trudeau reach out to the Punjabi constituency through Punjabi music, which is very folk-​ influenced. Artists such as Dilbagh Singh, for example, notes the difference in repertoire between performing in India and in Canada. “In India, people want

India’s Independent Popular Music Scene  •  169

to listen to tadka and want some Western and urban edge to Punjabi music, but outside the country, they want to listen to folk style Punjabi music,” says Singh (Kuenzeng 2016). As a result, Punjabi popular music is highly folk-​influenced in its melody, lyrics, rhythms, dance moves and even dress. Guru Randhawa is one of these musicians. His hit songs“Lahore” and “High Rated Gabru” each have well over half a billion YouTube hits. By comparison, even artists like Yo Yo Honey Singh reach an average of only 150 million views for their top songs. Guru’s international fan base is so large that he has the luxury of saying that he wants to be well known before entering the Bollywood world, be firmly established as an independent artist outside Bollywood, and maintain that independence (Mathur 2016). Other artists in this genre include Jasmine Sandlas, a female Punjabi rapper from the US, Garry Sandhu, Harrdy Sandhu from Chandigarh, Baadshah, Pav Dharia, and Jaz Dhami, a well-​known folkhop DJ.

Conclusion Over the course of this chapter, we have seen the development of independent popular music in India by tracing how rock and related genres gradually embedded themselves into the Indian musical-​cultural fabric. Although rock music in India might not have had the same political connotations that it did in the US and UK during the 1960s, its sense of agency and its ability to persist and capture the cultural imagination was no less palpable. As a non-​indigenous genre, rock’s foray into India smacks of cultural imperialism  –​the West exporting its mass-​produced music  –​an amalgamation of sound that decimates the traditional folk musics, substituting it with a sonic imperialism. When observing the products of popular world music, it is clear that this domination did not materialize. Regev reframes the discussion away from one on cultural imperialism to one that accepts rock’s widespread similarities and yet accepts all of its local variations (Regev 2013). Basing his ideas in the work of Bourdieu, Regev explores the shared meanings and methods of distinction between manifestations of rock and its multidimensional traffic of pop-​rock idioms across the globe (Regev 2013, 2). Rather than displacing traditional musics with a standard US/​UK sound, world cultures took this sound and made it their own. Inclusion of Indian vocalizations classical and folk elements (Carnatic and Hindustani), raga, instrumentation, rhythms, language and politics facilitated this adoption. The legitimacy of Indian rock and pop gradually moved from covers to fusions as bands such as Euphoria, Indus Creed, and Indian Ocean paved the way for the next generation of musicians. Musically sophisticated bands created original material that no longer “covered” the Anglo-​American music, but truly expressed a unique Indian philosophy, aesthetic, and sound.

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MUSIC AWARDS (FILM AND INDEPENDENT) This chart provides a glimpse into the trajectory and development of popular music in India, from early film-​based awards to the sponsored independent categories of later decades. An examination of the categories will provide evidence of trends and global influences (e.g. the popularity of Punjabi musicians, and the increasing role of technology): • • •

1954 –​Filmfare Awards established with the category Best Music Direction. 1959  –​Best Playback Singer (Male/​Female) added as a category of the Filmfare Awards. 1967 –​Best Music Direction. This music award was introduced in 1967 at the 15th National Film Awards which were established in 1954 by the Indian Government, in the same year as the Filmfare Awards. The National Film Awards are equivalent to the Academy Awards with the winners presented by the President of India. 1994 –​Best Background Score. Added at the 42nd National Film Awards.

2003–​2006 MTV INDIA IMMIES • • • •

Film:  Performance in a song (Male/​Female) (recognizes the actors in a picturization); Male/​ Female Singer; Film Album; Composer; Lyricist; Choreographer; New Film Music Talent. Indipop: Male/​Female Pop Act; Remix Video Song; Non-​film Talent; Video; Ghazal Album; Classical Instrumental Album; Devotional Album; Classical Vocal Album; Fusion Album International: International Debut; Male/​Female Pop Act Inspiration Award


In alliance with VH1 and Rolling Stone magazine, the Jack Daniels Rock awards has become an institutionalized event in the Indian popular music scene. These awards help sponsor bands and help promote the rock music writing and appreciation throughout the country.


Film Awards:  Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Male and Female Vocalists, Best Composer, Best Lyricist, Best upcoming male and female vocalist, best upcoming composer and upcoming lyricist, best song in the Sufi tradition, Best Raag-​inspired [aka Raga-inspired] song of the year, and Best item song. Technical: Best Programmer and Arranger, Song Recording, Background Score. Non-​Film Award: Indie Pop Song of the Year.

India’s Independent Popular Music Scene  •  171

• •

Listener’s Choice Awards: Song of the Year, Album of the Year. Special Awards:  Outstanding Contribution to Hindi Film Music; Lifetime Achievement; Item Number.


• • •

Upcoming Lyricist, Upcoming Music Director, Upcoming Male Singer, Upcoming Female Singer, Female and Male Playback Singer, Music Director, Lyricist, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Mannin Kural –​Male, Manin Kural –​ Female. Listener’s Choice: Album of the year, Song of the Year. Technical: Sound Engineer. Special:  Outstanding Contribution to Film Music Industry; Lifetime Achievement.


Film Awards:  Arranger and Programmer; Engineer Film Album; Background Score; Music Director; Music Debut; Male/​Female Playback Singer; Duo/​Group Song; Duet; Lyricist; Film Song; Film Album. Defunct category: Engineer –​Theatre Mix. Non-​Film Awards: Music Debut, Non-​Film Song, Fusion Album, Devotional Album, Hindustani Classical Album (Vocal); Hindustani Classical (Instrumental); Carnatic Classical Album (Vocal); Carnatic Classical Album (Instrumental); Pop Album; Rock Album; Ghazal Album; Folk Album. Defunct categories: Semi-​classical Album; Popular Music Album;


MTV Asian Music Awards International Indian Film Awards


Categories: Lyricist; Music; Male and Female Singer


Categories:  Club DJ; Unsigned Newcomer; Alternative Act; Radio Show; Selling Download; International Album; International Act35 Producer; Album; Desi Act; Video; Artist of the Decade; International Artist of the Decade; Urban Act; Newcomer; Female Act; Commitment to the Scene.

According to the rock documentary Standing By, audience reception from these contests was fierce. If you were not liked as a band, you would be “pelted with water bottles, vegetables and so forth.”

172  •  Popular Music in India

Notes 1 The pressure to succeed is so strong that India’s teenage suicide rate is the highest in the world, with almost 10,000 students committing suicide in 2016, many due to failure in examinations in which the student feels he or she has disappointed the family. See https://​​health-​and-​ fitness/​every-​hour-​one-​student-​commits-​suicide-​in-​india/​story-​7UFFhSs6h1HNgrNO60FZ2O. html 2 Western rock musicians, of course, engaged in cultural appropriation of their own, for example with the Beatles, the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, etc. inserting Indian instruments such as the sitar, finger cymbals, ornaments, drone, raga-​s and other classical elements into their music, but, by and large, extensive imitation continued primarily in one direction –​from West to East. 3 A gymkhana is an Anglo-​Indian term for social or sporting club. 4 The Standing By project is a film that documents and archives the history of independent music in India since 1947. Currently, the six-​part documentary is available on YouTube, and is supported by Red Bull (see https://​​watch?v=iNLgZeEFxVQ&list=PLytHBNxOgKxu5​juOw0D8fynMNwreWSz2&index=1). 5 The idea of the teenager is a constructed demographic: older children weren’t recognized as a separate group with their own characteristics until the early 1900s, with first use of the term in 1941 in the US. India didn’t fully embrace the term until the 1960s. 6 See​ 7 See archived website at https://​​web/​20150112043356/​http://​​ 8 View The Human Bondage, “All Wrong Blues,” at https://​​watch?v= GOHkn6G2RUQ 9 See https://​​watch?v=pT1AoWgjp54 10 See https://​​watch?v=jBbDo9aJARo 11 View Rock Machine, “Top of the Rock,” at https://​​watch?v=wZtOweHy10E 12 View Indus Creed, “Pretty Child,” at https://​​watch?v=bIsCvwowifQ&t=123s 13 As a point of comparison, the US lists over 26,000 bands in this genre. 14 See https://​www.metal-​​bands 15 See more at on Goan trance music at https://​​web/​20080319084451/​www.mood​music/​trance.html#goa-​trance 16 A lakh is equal to 100,000 so this would be 250,000 rupees (roughly $3,500 USD at 2019 rates). 17 Personal communication, December 5, 2018. 18 Personal communication, January 11, 2019. 19 View Euphoria, “Hind Rock ’n’ Roll,” at https://​​watch?v=Pk3WxoTTlvg 20 IIT stands for Indian Institute of Technology. Several of the large IIT schools host rock competitions, with IIT Bombay hosting the Mood Indigo Rock Festival. 21 View Pentagram, “Voice,” at https://​​watch?v=4FUBy30Ueow 22 View Pentagram, “Voice” (VH1 version), at https://​​watch?v=ap8FY5OuC90 23 View “Vishal Dadlani: Talks about Pentagram and ‘Bloodywood’. Part 1”)The MJ Show, September 6, 2013) at https://​​watch?v=rzfV4E3WTG0 24 However, according to Swer (2015), these shows are often hastily put together. 25 View interview, “Early Rock Scene in India 1980s,” February 10, 2017, at https://​​ watch?v=JgGSiiNX42w 26 View Dark Krusaders, “Nowhere to Run,” at https://​​watch?v=oAFxLsfnPNM 27 View Postmark, “Metal Age,” at https://​​watch?v=fKL0vOXfd1M 28 Kabaddi is a contact sport that requires tagging as many of the opponent’s players as possible all in a single breath. The breath is made audible by rapidly repeating the word kabaddi while playing.

India’s Independent Popular Music Scene  •  173 29 See https://​​wp-​content/​uploads/​sites/​3/​2019/​04/​nielsen-​india-​music-​360.pdf 30 Bacardi, now produced in India, is designated as IMFL, or Indian Made Foreign Liquor, and is more accessible than imported alcohol. 31 Indians ride a fair number of motorcycles compared to cars, which are more expensive and slower in India’s traffic. It is not surprising that a brand such as Harley-​Davidson would be popular there, and also bring with it the association of heavy and death metal. 32 The question posed to Amrit Mohan was as interesting as his answer. The Rock Street Journal staff interviewer asked if it takes more than the arrival of any western sound to connect to the audience –​ if it “needs a story, a journey that grunge possibly lacked in the Indian context.” 33 View Divine, “Meer Gully Mein,” at https://​​watch?v=1bK5dzwhu-​I 34 https://​​features/​metroplus/​step-​it-​up-​with-​dj-​akbar-​sami/​article8240675.ece 35 The International Act referred to an artist or group from India.

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Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today



Youth Music Culture: Bollywood and Beyond

This chapter begins with a look at Indian film’s foray into rock music, rock’s influence with Sufi music, and the resultant cultural impact from the two. The chapter then introduces popular music culture in India today as it reaches beyond Bollywood, bringing together the two streams of music –​film and independent. Its focus includes the role of social media and technology (YouTube, Skype, digital downloads, fan sites, Indian Bands Hub, etc.) and reality TV (Coke Studio, MTV Unplugged India, Indian Idol, India’s Raw Star, The Voice India, etc.). The chapter describes the booming online culture in India and takes the reader into the world of informal youth bands and music lessons. Several vignettes introduce the reader to private and Western music schools to examine student goals, ambitions, and training. Many of these private after-​school programs teach hundreds of students and make use of Western music education techniques, repertoire, curricula and exams. Grounding questions include:  how do youth in India interact with music? In what ways does music impact and express youth personal and global outlook? Other vignettes depict young musicians who are inspired by Western music or who are trying to “make it” in a music industry dominated by Indian film music. The issue of communal versus individual expression and identity is discussed, as youth juggle competing values of traditional family networks and the desire to create an individual destiny. The opening song sequence of the film Aashiqui 2 (“Love 2”) (2013) with music by Mithoon, Ankit Tiwari, and Jeet Gannguli, features a rockstar named Rahul Jayekar (Aditya Roy Kapoor), known in the film as RJ, front and center on stage before a stadium crowd of thousands of screaming fans. His look –​an all-​black outfit with leather jacket and black t-​shirt, scruffy beard, and forlorn depicts the typical demeanor of a rockstar. His style and instrumentation for the song “Sun raha hai na tu, ro raha hoon main” (“You’re listening, right? I am crying here”) 179

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are a mixture of dirty guitar and vocal style imbued with detached alienation, which provide the perfect heart-​wrenching backdrop for his performance and the tone for the remainder of the film. As RJ unleashes the full measure of his soul’s angst over the multitude, we become uncomfortably aware of our own presence as onlookers, as if intruding on a deeply personal moment. Aashiqui 2 captures the tragic downfall of leading male, a rock singer and alcoholic. The film depicts RJ’s self-​destructive behavior –​including his struggles with his addiction and his social detachment, along with a tragic love story. (Sarrazin 2017, 100) The 2012 film RockStar, with music by A. R. Rahman, chronicles the tormented rise of Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) and his ultimate mental breakdown which almost destroys him. The film ends with Jordan, on stage during his “Wings of Fire” tour. Sporting long stringy hair, a very Sgt. Peppery outfit, and holding an electric guitar, he sings “Nadaan Parindey” (“O Innocent bird”), a Sufi inspired and emotionally charged song. Jordan’s tour references the Icarus-​like symbolism in which he flew too close to the sun and was destroyed. Lisa Tsering, film critic, writes, “Rockstar is that rare popular film that captures the precise moment when music draws a man into the realm of the divine. (Tsering 2011). He is distraught after having inadvertently caused his girlfriend’s death, and during his performance envisions her appearing in the stadium crowd. The ongoing narrative of the film suggests that rock musicians are inherently self-​destructive. Rahman’s Sufi rock songs  –​the qawwali “Kun Faiya Kun” and “Nadaan Parindey” (both sung by Rahman), are climaxes of the film. “Kun Faiya Kun” represents the turning point for Jordan –​a moment of spiritual transformation. Towards the end of the song, Jordan sings “Let me see myself, set me free from myself.” It is this very moment that marks Jordan’s transformation personally. He transitions musically into his second life, which features the electric guitar and a dramatic rise to fame. (Sarrazin 2017, 98) The film RockOn!! (2008), with soundtrack by progressive fusion composers Shankar–​Ehsaan–​Loy, features four members of the band Majik as they experience an acrimonious break up to pursue their separate lives and “real” adult careers. The main protagonists and two of the band’s members, Joe (Arjun Rampal) and Aditya (Farhan Akhtar), symbolize important figures in India’s rock music scene. Joe plays lead guitar in the band, is unemployed, lives in poverty, and survives only by playing a few gigs. Joe represents the self-​taught, raw talent, and music-​obsessed guitarist –​a lower-​income underdog who plays from a deep personal passion in order to raise his self-​esteem. He lives in poverty, and is portrayed as the heart and soul of the group. Aditya was the lead singer and successful investment banker professional who used music to rebel against his upper-​class family and to break away. The film consistently refers to major turning points in their lives –​decisions that involve pursuing the “music dream” vs. the realism of working a job (Sarrazin 2017, 95). In the end, they revive the band for one final concert. Recent YouTube

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viewer responses on the film’s song “Sinbad the Sailor” include inspiration to start a band to express nostalgia about the era. The following comment is a stream of memory that beautifully encapsulates that moment in time (orkut was a Google social media platform from 2008–​2014 popular in India). amazing years 2008–​2012…age of orkut…new taste of youtube…. beginning of facebook…ending era of yahoo chatbox…beginning of experimentation in bollywood cinema and music industry….nokia handsets ruled in the market….N8….free unlimited 2G data…evolution of mobile handsets and mindsets too…and many more….brilliant year of my life… hope all will agree….#nostalgia. (Risheb_​Sharma2) As mentioned in Chapter 4, Indian films often utilize songs as a way to display pivotal and emotionally significant events in both the film’s narrative and in the personal lives of their characters. Music allows them access to illumination, enlightenment, and transcendent meaning, particularly at traumatic events or turning points in their lives. In three films, Aashiqui 2 (2013), RockStar (2011), and Rock On!! (2008), however, rock music accompanies these transcendent moments. Showcasing rock (musicians and the music) as the main topic in these films suggests that the film industry sees the potential in exploiting stereotypes about rock music as both the subject matter as a main character. In addition to creating new possibilities for narratives, characters, it is also a strategy to highlight the genre in the soundtrack thus increasing the film’s popularity and sales.1

Rock Meets Bollywood: A Love Story Chapter  5 illustrated the contentious relationship between independent music and Indian film music, as rock bands struggled to either find a way out of Bollywood’s shadow, or found ways to join them. Genres such as Indi-​pop, for example, had a short-​ lived boost in the 1990s and 2000s, but ultimately did not succeed due to both musical issues, such as vocal styles and other aesthetics, and marketing issues (Kvetko 2009). Indian film’s hegemony and cooptation of non-​film genres, however, has been the single biggest obstacle.2 Although “filmi-​rock” never became a commonly used label per se, rock made its way into film music in a merger quite unlike any other. By the end of the 2000s, rock’s use in film made the genre almost unrecognizable. Rock began to express much deeper and more relevant lyrics, while absorbing contemporary styles such as metal, techno, hip-​hop, rap, EDM, and other sounds. Over the past 20  years, rock has taken on a decidedly different persona in Hindi film, one associated with the projection of an alternate Indian social reality. Through depiction in films such as those listed above, plus rock’s merger and fusion with the powerful hybrid of Sufi rock, rock is authentically utilized and resignified to explore a deeper psychological and intimate type of spectacle, to display narrative climax, express character foibles, desires, and selfconversion. Rock is infused with an aura associated with its history of instigating change, inciting the desire for independence, and freedom, and with other qualities that significantly affect the lives of its performers and listeners.

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Rock in Early Film Long before its celluloid acceptance, however, Indian film incorporated rock picturizations, albeit in relatively peripheralized ways. Film and music directors, in search of new and exciting visuals and sounds, included it either in the background soundtrack that featured rock instruments, or in a picturization of a rock band performing a “rock-inspired” film song or cover. These rock picturizations often took place in nightclubs and cabarets, imitating the nightlife of Mumbai and Calcutta. Picturizations were often exoticized, parodied, and situated in comedic contexts or as high-​energy dance spectacles. These rock specialty songs are akin to what Hollywood musicals or Tin Pan Alley referred to as a “novelty” number.

IQBAL SINGH –​THE ELVIS OF BOLLYWOOD In the 1960 film Ek Phool Char Kante (One Flower Four Thorns) a tall, lanky Sikh singer-​dancer appeared in two boogie-​woogie numbers:  “A Beautiful Baby of Broadway,” in which he sings and dances, and “O Meri Baby Doll,” where he imitates the moves of Elvis. His name was Iqbal Singh, and he would be known as the Elvis of Bollywood. Iqbal was an Indian Naval officer who became known for his rock and roll dance moves in England’s port town social clubs, and by winning a rock and roll dance competition in England. He continued learning to dance in India, studying under Ruby and Sam Aaron, and won the title king of rock and roll at a competition at the Taj Hotel in Bombay. He also performed at Trincas in Calcutta (Bali 2017). One such comedic rock number, composed by music duo Shankar–​Jaikishan, features a Beatles cover band singing the song “Dekho ab toh” from the 1965 film Janwar (Animal or Wild), which is rather blatantly derivative of the Beatles tune “I Want to Hold your Hand.” In it, the musicians’ performance moves are wildly exaggerating, including vigorous head shakes, and comedically synchronized choreography. After the first blush of rock’s “new” sound and ideas wore thin in these early films, rock’s association with modernity and the West took on negative connotations as India sought to shore up its traditional culture.3 One of the most famous examples of this is the use of a distorted electric guitar to underscore sexual lasciviousness and Western decadence in “Dum Maro Dum” (“Puff, Take a Puff ”) from Hare Rama, Hare Krishna (Hail Ram, Hail Krishna) (Anand 1971). Over the next several decades, guitars, drum sets, saxophones, and so forth, were either resignified or introduced to create memes that underscored the non-​traditional values offered by a “corrupt West.” Another way rock music was injected into films without actually becoming a fully integrated part of the soundtrack was the use of instruments as props. Aashiqui (Love) (Bhatt 1990), for example, features lead actor Rahul Roy performing Nadeem-​Shraven’s “Ek Sanam Chahiye Aashiqui ke liye” (“Just like the Need to Breathe, I Need a Lover for Romance”) on the electric guitar in front of a nightclub audience. Behind him is a band comprising an acoustic guitar, trumpet, and drum set. In a type of aural illusion, the actual sound, however, is that of a large string orchestra accompanied by a dholak drum

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(a double-​headed barrel drum associated with folk music), with only the interludes and introductions occurring on electric guitar. Like “Mera Joota Hai Japani” in Chapter 4, this song makes use of the flat VII chord, giving the song a mixolydian-​modal feel, reminiscent of a raga, but very loosely based. Substituting one set of instruments for another was a was deeply imbedded practice in Indian film, one that impeded rock’s ability to reach the more hallowed status of other filmi songs that explored deeper and more complex emotions. Love songs, for example, retained their heavily stringed orchestral instrumentation, long associated with characterizing and underscoring the lead couple’s romantic story. These love songs often used ghazal and other culturally resonant poetry rooted in Arab and Persian traditions, which paled in comparison with rock’s superficial lyrics and sentiments. Rock’s reputation was based on a highly intense sonic construction but a rather detached aura. In remarks on the boogie-​woogie number “Ina Mina Dika” from the film Aasha (Raman 1958), Indian ethnomusicologist Ashok Ranade remarks on the “rock and roll intonation –​energetic, non-​involved (or rather impersonally involved!), flippant and endearing, movement-​ inviting timbre is unmistakable” (Ranade 2006, 368). However, all of this changed by the 2000s as rock musicians in India found their voice. Along with issues that reflected contemporary India, Sufi rock emerged, bringing with it serious lyrics, and music directors such as Rahman created sophisticated arrangements using rock and other popular styles.

Rock Comes of Age in Bollywood Post 1990 Bollywood made substantial advancements towards utilizing rock as a distinct category on its own rather than an exotic source of sonic interest. Indian film’s forte is to supply visual contexts to music, along with characters, plot, and narrative devices, in a manner that is familiar to mainstream Indian lives. Screen images have immense cultural impact, with their sound and visuals living on long after the films, fueling tropes and supplying material for social discourse. The inclusion of rock music and musicians not only as a specialty number but as the actual subjects of a film was a significant step in rock’s Indian journey. For the first time, audiences could begin to imagine rock bands and their musicians on a personal level, rather than as abstract entities known only through negative or superficial stereotypes. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL –​A POP MUSICIAN AND THE BOLLYWOOD JUGGERNAUT Over the years, I’ve interviewed many musicians about their careers, aspirations, and their music. In 2015, I had a discussion with a young man named Satish who was trying to make it as an independent singer-​songwriter in pop. I met him in a recording studio in Mumbai as he worked on his album. He wrote original, Bollywood-​esque love songs with Hindi lyrics, and from my perspective, his voice was clear, expressive, and rich. Satish and his family were from Delhi, but he was living in Mumbai to work on his music. His father was a businessman who greatly believed in his son –​ so much so that he was bankrolling all of his son’s expenses, including his travel and accommodation in Mumbai, and recording studio time. The son expressed his

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complete frustration with the system, as he seemed to run into obstacles in the way of attaining his goal of putting out an original album of pop music. He met with many record companies, gave them copies of his songs, and plugged himself wherever he could. Satish’s response was that no matter where he went, he ran into “no’s” from all of the executives. His frustration ran mostly with the Bollywood juggernaut, as Beaster-​Jones names it, which he felt was something he could not overcome. His plans were to keep trying for about six months to a year, and then go and try to find another career path. Satish’s story is certainly not new, as independent artists face such challenges in breaking into the music business in India.

Sufi Rock The Sufism of the east is characterized by an exploration of encounters with the divine, encompassed in the utterances of Dhu’l Nun al-​Misri through to the mystical utterances of al-​Hallaj. The goal of these mystics was to uncover the experiencing self, and to find in it the truths of transcendent existence. Its practices were highly individualistic and heterodox. It found the language associated with love to be a powerful theme… (Waugh 2014, 60) Although we might associate Waugh’s sentiment with 1960s psychedelic rock, it is a message that resonates in the transcendent and mystical pathways embedded in Sufi experience and practice. Sufi rock emerged as a category in the early 1990s through rock bands such as the Pakistani band Junoon (see below, this chapter) and singers Rabbi Shergill, A. R. Rahman, Kailash Kher, and even Cat Stevens. There are significant similarities between many aspects of Sufi music and rock. Both genres began as independent forces outside of mainstream Bollywood. Musical characteristics include a driving, energetic tempo, complex rhythm, and interplay between impassioned lyrics and vocals. Sufi music and some forms of rock, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, appealed to those disenfranchised youth searching for novelty and identity. Sufi rock employed a familiar cultural critique and commentary on existence exploring themes such as, the self, mystical alternative philosophies, and the questioning and rebelling of prevailing institutions. As Abbas notes, Sufi poets such as Bulleh Shah and Shah Abdul Latif, “challenged theocratic forces of their times and questioned the religious establishment” (Abbas 2007, 626). Similarly, rock, in its inception, was associated with a critique of the status quo of the staid and normative values rejected by an emergent youth culture. Sufism, with its critical stance of both Islamic and Hindu fundamentalist doctrine, immediately appealed to youth. To paraphrase lyrics from the hit song “Bullah ki Jaana,” I am not a believer in the mosque, nor am I adherent in the Vedas. Lyrics such as these work with the music to intensify the listening experience with powerful sounds and techniques.

Sufi Music in Bollywood Sufi-​s are devotees of the mystical branch of Islam, whose most significant musical form is qawwali, a syncretic blend of literary poetic traditions and musical genres of Hindustani

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classical and folk music (see Chapters  1 and 2 for more detail). The ultimate goal of qawwali is to bring the listener into a state of devotional ecstacy. Lyrics for Sufi music are borrowed from the great Sufi poets, from centuries of Arabic and Persian classical devotional and love poetry (see Khusrau, Chapter  1). Qawwali has a long, important cultural and music history in India, and has been a popular genre in Hindi film since the 1940s in the form of filmi-​qawwali, a modified version of the original. Because of time restraints, filmi-​qawwali has removed the musical risk from the genre, such as improvisation, open-​ended form, audience–​performer interaction, and other musical characteristics. Film locations for qawwali include devotional settings (“Aaya Tere Dar Par”) (“On your doorstep”) from Veer-​Zaara; alternative qawwali functions as an item number or even as a folk music genre. Qawwali performances frequently take the form of vocal competitions 1977 between two groups of qawwal-​s in a concert setting (see “Hum Kisise Kum Naheen” (“We Are Not Less than Others”) with Zeenat Aman and Rishi Kapoor in the film Hai Agar Dushman (If There Are Enemies). The song “Challa” from the film Jab Tak hai Jaan (Till There Is Life) (2012)4 is a Sufi version of a Punjabi song. Challa speaks of the lover who is mad with love and searching everywhere, crying and laughing as he goes. In the film, “Challa” is picturized by the protagonist (Shah Rukh Khan), a non-​resident Indian in London, who does odd jobs. Through the song, he asks where his home is, equating himself to a wanderer, a frequent topic in Sufi poetry. The translation below is that of the actor Shahrukh Khan himself: You roam the streets, end to end You laugh, you cry You urge every passerby, Hiding the hurt in your smile That you belong to all the world Yet no one is yours to hold Wanderer, mad with love, What do you search for? Asking people far and wise, where the one does reside (“Challa” from Jab Tak hai Jaan, 2012, excerpt).5 “Allah ke bande” (“People of the Lord”), from the film Waisa Bhi Hota Hai (As it Happens), is a 2003 Sufi song written by Vishal Dadlani and sung by Kailash Kher, a notable Sufi singer. The song had a life as a popular Sufi number outside of the film. The song begins with an acoustic, solo guitar and singer, and includes an uplifting message drawing on the analogy of a broken bird which provides comfort amidst strife: A bird was broken in such a way That it could never be mended When it fell from the sky It still had clouds in its dreams People of the Lord, laugh Whatever happens, there will still be a tomorrow. But it learned to fly when it lost its wings Keep grief with you, for even the pain will be useful

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When it broke, all of the bird’s dreams were shattered You will find the Lord’s will in the shattered pieces of the dream (“Allah ke bande,” “People of the Lord,” excerpt)6 Sufi rock is a resilient and relevant genre that allowed popular music to evolve in India in three ways. First, the fusion made room for rock to flourish and grow, thus releasing it from the stagnation that befell classic rock in other countries; second, it provided Western rock with Indianization and substantial authenticity that established it as a significant musical and cultural form; and finally, it resulted in a genre of music that is equally comfortable in the context of Bollywood films as well as independent bands. The flexible, layered, and nuanced Sufi poetry successfully translated sentiments, emotions, and aesthetics applicable in the present day. Ideas of love, the beloved, the glimpse, passionate devotion, questioning, existential crises, and transcendence transferred easily into the pop music world. Poets such as Shah Hussein (1538–​1599) and Bulleh Shah (1680–​1757) created a bedrock foundation of mystical poetry sung for centuries to come (Manuel 2008, 382). Many Sufi pop and rock lyrics were thus inspired by these poet-​saints and directly borrowed from them. For example, the existential Sufi poem “Bullah ki Jaana” (“I Know Not Who I Am”) by Sufi poet Bulleh Shah was covered by the Pakistani rock group Junoon, as well as Rabbi Shergill, the Wadali brothers from Punjab, and others. The marriage between Sufism and rock forged a powerful new genre –​encapsulating the devotional with visceral angst. The passionate, declamatory, and expressive modes of Sufi poetry and music fused well with rock idioms. Lyrics, penned by centuries of influential Sufi poets, proved fitting for the intense musical structure of rock. The context of rock added meaning and punctuation of its own to the traditions of Sufi poetry and music.

JUNOON: SUFI ROCK The most successful rock band to emerge out of South Asia is from Pakistan. Junoon, called the U2 of Pakistan, was created in 1990 by Dr Salman Ahmad. The group’s name came to Salman in a dream in which a teacher chided him for being obsessed with music (Magnatune n.d.). Junoon (“Obsession” in Arabic) is described by the Wall Street Journal as being a “powerful combination of the pump-​your-​fist hard rock of Led Zeppelin or Santana and traditional South Asian percussion like tabla and dholak” (Schroeder 2007). Junoon had one more issue to contend with than most of the Indian bands –​censorship and a ban on state-​run radio and television in the very conservative culture of Pakistan.

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POST-​1990 TRENDS IN BOLLYWOOD AND INDEPENDENT MUSIC Similar musical trends occurred in both Indian film and independent music after 1990: 1 . Increased diaspora transnational crossovers and fusion. 2. Increased use of English/​Hinglish in lyrics. In the 1975 film Sholay, there is a dialog in which a few English words are used, such as suicide. The words were immediately translated into Hindi in the dialog. By 1995, English words were sprinkled throughout dialog and songs with no translation given. Jump ahead 20 years, and there are entire scenes using English or Hinglish, and songs with a heavy use of both languages as well. 3. Increased complexity of music arrangements afforded by technology. 4. Increased use of devotional lyrics and music (Sufi) and neo-​traditional-​based lyrics, band names, etc. The nature of Sufi music, with its intensity and drive, is similar to rock. Both utilize driving rhythms and enthusiastic incorporation of the audience’s attention and participation. Other performative elements include the interactions between singer and audience, instrumental or vocal solos, verse-​refrain format (at its most simplistic level), musical refrains that build upon repetition, and the establishment of an aura of ecstasy through musical intensification. Both genres are similar enough in terms of energy and performativity to be able to draw inferences to and inspiration from one another.

New Markets, New Realities To say that Indian markets have changed since 1990 is an understatement. Not only have they changed, but they have become almost unrecognizable to most older Indians. Use of cellphones, digital everything, and the complications of global and consumer culture are very much in the fore of everyday life. Issues and social concerns that once defined Indian culture, such as caste and religion, are falling by the wayside, at least in terms of marketing and consumption. Interestingly, interviewees for this book never mentioned the terms “caste” or “religion” –​terms that for centuries symbolized the primary nature of Indian culture. Other types of personal identities and social issues have more immediate relevance, such as socioeconomic inequality, gender/​sexuality, isolation and disillusionment, and violence. In an interview with the band The Local Train, for example, they mentioned that they all met in Chandigarh, but were not interested in each other’s backgrounds, just their willingness to make music (see Chapter 7). INDIAN FILM CHANGES ITS TUNE The (2012) Aamir Khan film 3 Idiots tackles the delicate subject of student suicide and the effects of intense pressure from families on children to succeed, specifically the pressure to become doctors or engineers (see Chapter 5). The film tells of

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the lives of three students in an engineering college as they go through grueling personal tragedies and suffering under the heavy weight of familial responsibility and obligation. 3 Idiots, however, critiques this traditional and strict mindset and sends the message that children should pursue their own passions in whatever field they wish, albeit while taking into account family obligations and needs. It reveals the negative outcomes of such pressure on the psychological health and well-​being of students. These attitudes may seem severe to outsiders, but they are well-​entrenched in India, where children are obedient and follow the career expectations and advice of their elders.

Tapping the Youth/​Digital Market It is said that youth in the current generations have more in common with each other across the globe than with their respective cultures. This is largely due to unparalleled technological innovations, global and social networks, media dissemination, etc. –​a veritable techno-​media-​and ethno-​scape of compelling cultural interactions and exchanges occurring at an unprecedented rate, providing almost anyone, anywhere, with immediate ability to chat, view, and listen through myriad platforms and devices. Youth in India, as elsewhere, are taking advantage of this technology, which significantly impacts their musical worlds and vastly increases their ability to freely explore music, genres, artists, songs, and so forth. What can digital music marketing tell us about what Indian listeners are consuming and how? This section looks at mobile phone use, streaming and download use, and social media hits and likes, to assess how India’s market is changing. By the late 2000s, digital marketing made serious inroads into what music was delivered in India and how it was done. Through sites like Jio Music, Wynk Music, and Gaana, the three largest streaming services in India, streaming music via mobile devices now accounts for a large share of the market.7

Synchronization 14.7%

Performance Rights 9.3%

Physical 11.4%

Figure 6.1  Music industry revenue breakdown, 2017

Digital 64.6%

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Like many Asian countries, mobile phone use in India is very high, with an estimated 800  million users as of 2018. The price of mobile phone and online music consumption was reduced significantly by the telecom company Reliance Industries’ Jio Music platform, who lowered data costs to roughly a few pennies per gigabyte. This increased music sales markedly, to $72 million USD in 2016 (Brindley 2017). Currently, India is cited as being the second largest in the world in terms of internet users, with between 50 and 60% of all music sales being digital.8 New digital platforms have helped to increase the size of the Indian music industry, as well, with 64.6% of the revenue coming from digital sales as opposed to 11.4% for physical (see Figure  6.1). Digital is also increasing music sales, which rose 2.3% over the past six years, reaching 8 billion rupees (~$100 million) for both digital (streaming, downloading, etc.) and physical sales (for comparison, the US earned $7 billion in retail). Although the amounts seem low, this is due to a great deal of illegal downloading and bootlegging in India, which suppress legitimate earnings.

India Streaming With more sophisticated marketing and analysis being conducted in the Indian music industry, Bollywood music is being redefined. “Bollywood is not a genre of music,” says Times Music COO Mandar Thakur. Rather, Ed Peto, managing director of Outdustry, often refers to is as a wider entertainment ecosystem, centered around musical films, that “ultimately packages and sells [music] down the pipeline to the end touchpoint, which is the cinema screen” (Rinder 2018). Emphasis on the picturizations means that YouTube is one of the primary platforms, along with its channel T-​series, that carries Bollywood content. Jio Music, Gaana, Saavn, Wynk Music and Hungama are all among the top 12 music streaming platforms, and focus heavily on Hindi and Indian tunes (Rinder 2018). One interesting behavior to emerge from these statistics is the way in which Indian consumers prefer to search for and discover their music online. The predominant paradigm is the use of film music keywords such as the film’s director, actors, or playback singers’ names rather than being “recommendation-​oriented,” like Spotify or Pandora. A  successful streaming service in India, therefore, must include a cross-​media search and link capability that lists those associations (Hu 2017). What people are listening to on these sites, however, is another story, revealing that the imbalance between viewers of online film song picturizations and those of other popular genres appears to be continuing into the digital age. A study in Forbes in 2017 cited that even today, 80% of the music market remains film based, a combination of Bollywood and local film music (Hu 2017). Online devices that keep track of hits, likes, and overall viewership also support this. Even older Hindi film songs garner hundreds of millions of views, whereas new independent (non-​Punjabi) bands are lucky to crack a few million. According to a 2018 Nielsen study of Indian music consumption, Indians listen to approximately 20 hours of music per week almost 40% on their phones, 16% on digital library, 15% from television, and 10% radio (see Figure  6.2). According to a Nielsen study the top five genres of music consumed in order of dominance, are (1) Bollywood, (2)  other film music, (3)  Indian pop, (4)  Indian regional folk, and (5)  Western pop (Nielsen 2018).

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Television 15.0%

Radio 10.0%

Phone Streaming 40.0%

Digital Library 16.0% Figure 6.2  Sources for music listening https://​​chait123/​the-​indian-​media-​entertainment-​industry-​2018-​101734608

There are some signs of cracks in film music’s hold, however, indicating that independent and international music listening is increasing on streaming platforms. For example, the same Nielsen study reveals that film music captures 95% of the physical market, but only 60% of streaming, allowing space for international, Indi-​pop, and regional music. On the Indian streaming service, Gaana, international music is the fastest-​growing category. According to Prashan Agarwal, COO of Gaana, monthly streams of international music jumped from 22 to 110 million in the past year (Hu 2017). While Indian film music still holds the most viewership in both old and new media, increased access to music on new platforms seems to be making headway in promoting independent and international music.

Cable TV –​Reality Music As mentioned earlier, cable television has become more accessible to middle-​class households in India. Digital cable subscribers increased throughout the 1990s, and along with it countless music TV channels. Given the decades of music competitions found throughout India coupled with Indian culture’s penchant for competitions in general, it is not surprising that music reality competition shows took off in the 1990s. REALITY TV MUSIC SHOWS Below are a few of the top music television reality shows from 1995 onward. Not included, however, are the dozens of regional language talent and reality music shows, in most of the major languages (Tamil, Gujarati, and so on). Sa Re Ga Ma is India’s longest running music show, and was started in 1995 by Zee TV, an Indian cable TV network. The title is taken from the Indian solfege used

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in classical music (see Chapter 2). Judges and hosts rotate, but are typically playback singers, directors, and so on, from Indian film. India’s Raw Star ran for one season comprising 15 episodes, and featured Yo Yo Honey Singh as a judge. It was created specifically to tap into the youth market using YouTube for auditions instead of holding them in person, it gave all contestants access to extensive social media profiles and twitter handles to be used throughout (Indian Television 2014). Talent was selected from India only. Advertising was highly diversified and aggressive, aimed at youth markets in all areas; it appealed to the youth by using Honey Singh, the current pop icon, as the talents’ mentor.9 The show’s premise was that Honey Singh selected ten singers to compete for the best rock song but the contestants would do more than sing: they would create their own distinct style of music, singing their own compositions. Dil Hai Hindustani ran for two seasons of 25 episodes on StarPlus and streaming on Hotstar. Judges included playback singers and directors from Hindi film, Pritam Chakraborty, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Karan Johar. The show searches for the best Hindi talent from across the globe. Most of the songs are Bollywood film numbers, and most of the participants were Indian nationals or NRIs, with one exception. The Voice India ran for 3 seasons (54 episodes). Judges included playback singers Himesh Reshammiya, Sunidhi Chauhan, and others. Singers were given coaches who competed to have their singer win. In addition, there are a number of YouTube reality shows covering theater, dance, and music. The music show is called Sing Dil Se (Sing from the Heart). Two Simon Cowell productions also run in India: Indian Idol, started in 2004, now on its tenth season and still running, and India’s Got Talent, started in 2009 and now on its eighth season, and also still running.

Does India Want its MTV? Yes, But On its Own Terms After cable TV became affordable and relatively commonplace in middle-​ class households, costing only a few dollars a month, India became a desirable location to launch global music channels. Many outside companies set their sights on India as a potential source of revenue and large population, and Viacom’s MTV was no different. The undisputed leader in music and youth-​oriented television, MTV launched in India in 1991 with the aim of bringing music and reality TV programming to the Indian youth market.10 MTV, a veteran in satisfying pop music desires in countries all over the world, arrived in India at the perfect post-​liberalization moment to dispatch its tailored music and reality show content specifically towards global-​minded Indian youth. MTV made the careers of bands such as Euphoria, Indian Ocean, and many other 1990s groups by featuring them on heavy rotation or through award shows (see Chapter 5). The original MTV Indian line-​up was in a familiar format to its original US counterpart. It included a relatively short, three to five-​minute video allowance that captured the audience’s attention with visuals, costumes, choreography, English-​speaking VJs, etc.

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However, MTV, which dominated the early cable youth market in the US in the 1980s, was not immediately successful in India, due to a marketing miscalculation that almost shut down the venture entirely (Cullity 2002, 408). According to Cullity, the programming was largely Ameri-​centric, with a high rotation of Western music. Its Western-​ themed reality shows and lyrics were deemed too ideological, with too many graphics and an irreverent and rebellious quality that was not acceptable in a culture in which children respect their parents (Cullity 2002, 412). MTV soon realized that the market would not support a non-​Indian centric channel with English-​speaking VJs, songs, sentiments, and programming. According to Gunther of CNN’s Money, “The company figured out quickly that it could not simply blast its American programming at Indian teenagers, who don’t like rock or rap music –​and who were utterly mystified by the Osbournes. MTV knew it had to tailor operations to fit the market, but that proved to be harder than it looked” (Gunther 2004). MTV’s abstract, global programming was jettisoned, forcing an indigenization of programming that was more acceptable to Indian audiences who were “wired-​in” and desired global influences (Cullity 2002, 408). MTV’s new line-​up included VJs who spoke Hinglish –​a far more inclusive linguistic compromise –​and they provided more airplay for Indian bands. Rock musicians and bands such as Indus Creed (as mentioned in Chapter 5), had just started making videos at the time. Indus Creed’s song “Pretty Child,” along with Gary Lawyer’s “Nights on Fire,” were the first Indian songs put on heavy rotation airplay. They were also the first to receive awards from MTV Asia, boosting their popularity at home. MTV’s largest programming misstep, however, was to underestimate audiences’ desire for Indian film music. Indian cable TV, at that point, was already carrying channels that played music videos in the form of film picturizations, some of the channels dedicated to 24/​7 broadcasting. As a direct result of audience pressure, MTV India underwent a further indigenous-​friendly programming overhaul to include more film-​oriented music shows and change its branding and orientation. In the post-​liberalized market, Indian companies now had more leeway in collaborating with international businesses, so through a partnership with TV 18, Viacom was able to establish MTV India, which launched in 1996. The channel featured music videos of pop groups and artists, and reality TV programming that was more akin to the Indian sensibility. By 2014, a second channel named MTV Indies was launched, featuring independent music and other cultural programming, leaving behind the all-​music format. Within two years, however, MTV Indies became MTV Beats, which featured 24 hours of music only. The difficulties of gauging attitudes in contemporary consumption in India, were not limited to MTV. Channel V India, owned by Star and 21st Century Fox, was launched in 1994, and also faced challenges. Channel V offered 24-​hour music and fiction programming, starting with an international music format. In Shoveling Smoke, Mazzarella discusses the importance of culture to the Indian teenager, and notes that what caused the failure of channels like Channel V was their inability to recognize the deep-​rooted family values of the Indian teen (Mazzarella 2003, 244). Under audience pressure, Channel V changed its line-​up to include Indian film music. By 2012, influenced by MTV India’s reality shows, Channel V again changed its formatting, dropping all music programming and focusing on youth-​oriented entertainment instead. By 2016, however, the channel had once again reverted to its original 24-​hour music programming (Gupta 2014).

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The list below covers some of the more recent channels, but is not by any means exhaustive, and does not include all of the local/​regional language cable networks, which have their own music competitions and channels. MUSIC AND YOUTH-​ORIENTED INDIAN TV CHANNELS (SELECT) • • • • • •

• • • • •

9XM –​ Pay TV channel from Mumbai. Hindi language-​based Bollywood picturizations. 9X Jalwa –​TV channel featuring Hindi language-​based classic (film) songs from 1990 to 2010. B4U Music –​Digital TV channel with eight satellites, available in 189 countries. Part of the B4U Group of Bollywood television networks. Broadcasts Bollywood, Bhangra, Indi-​pop, and international music. Channel X –​British TV channel. Manoranjan Music  –​Free 24/​7 Hindi movie channel broadcasting to primarily Hindi-​speaking states. Now defunct. Mastii  –​Hindi language free-​to-​air TV channel launched in 2010, with Bollywood music and original youth programming. It cites itself as “India’s favorite Music and Youth destination…with Music for every mood, the latest blockbusters, and a music that changes throughout the day to suit the mood of its viewers.” MTV India –​Pay TV channel with youth programing (reality and youth culture) and music, mostly in Hindi. Music India  –​Bollywood music TV channel broadcasting in Hindi from 2007 to 2013. It was replaced by PTC Punjabi. PTC Punjabi –​Punjabi TV channel launched in 2008 with news, music, talk shows, programming. Popular internationally with reach to US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand. Sony Mix  –​Indian pay TV channel broadcasting Hindi language music videos. Covers the range of Bollywood, classic independent pop, and current pop. Owned by Sony Pictures Network Ltd. Sony ROX HD  –​Indian HD pay TV channel owned by Sony Pictures Network Ltd featuring Hindi-​language music videos.

MTV India: A Battle of Popular Aesthetics With audiences growing more familiar with independent music through television and films, MTV India developed two popular music reality shows  –​Kurkure’s Desi Beats Rock On (or KDBRO),11 2010, and Coke Studio, 2011. Both shows featured non-​ Bollywood rock music and Indian bands and artists. KDBRO was a reality band show on MTV India that launched in 2010 and aired on Saturday evenings. It had a run of 13 episodes and showcased 50 to 60 musicians. The show was described as a reality talent hunt program for a desi12 band that celebrated musical culture. Although it did not

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specify which musical cultures were being celebrated (perhaps a carefully constructed marketing ambiguity), it was clear that Indian culture and music were privileged over international. Musicians were asked to perform their own songs to add to the originality of the show. The second show, MTV’s Coke Studio, presents live, studio-​recorded performances from established and emerging artists. Each show has six songs and features a new or seasoned artist. The show’s performances highlight a wide variety of Indian and Western fusion and styles, including Indian classical, folk, pop, hip-​hop, rock, etc. One of the goals of Coke Studio is to invite musicians from different genres to collaborate, with a new creation for each show.13 It is one of the most watched music programs in India.14 In a detailed analysis of both shows, Coventry highlights their differences in terms of identity, aesthetics, and sound. The Kurkure-​sponsored show Desi Beats Rock On had several clear goals in mind. The show’s premise is that KDBRO would bring together musicians who would compete to become the “hottest new desi rock band”  –​a desi ideal with desi rock aesthetics, with a secondary mission of introducing desi rock music to a country that was familiar primarily with film music. A press release for the show claimed rock music to be a “specifically Indian musical genre, a global musical form that was nevertheless being brought into the fold of national popular culture” (Coventry 2014, 4). Coventry discusses the criteria behind each show as well as its selection process, revealing attempts to forge national identity through popular sound in which “the show’s producers and judges have attempted to ascertain an appropriately ‘Indian’ yet ‘rock’ sound with musical outcomes that display tension between a desire for audible cultural nationalism and the practicalities of performing a transnational musical form” (Coventry 2014, 3). KDBRO’s mission, however, was not only to find the best sounding band, but to encourage an “authentic” Indian-​sounding band. Participants, in other words, were required to retain elements of Indian cultural traditions to satisfy the judging criteria. The tension, as Coventry goes on to describe it, is in negotiating “cultural authenticity while participating in a globalized media field” (Coventry 2014, 3). KDBRO was roundly criticized, not only for its forced, vague, and arbitrary ideas of “Indianess” but it was also panned by rock musicians as pandering to conservative aesthetics, and ignoring the actual practices of rock musicians (Coventry 2014, 10). The show’s premise was significant in that it addressed concerns of those in fear of cultural erosion, who believed that rock would never be accepted as Indian unless it was “Indianized” to some aesthetic degree. Coke Studio, on the other hand, does not instruct musicians in any specific criteria for their performance, but allows artists their own influences, inspiration, and training from wherever they might originate. Coke Studio’s motto, ‘The Sound of a Nation,’ suggests a unification of musical cosmopolitanism –​an idea very befitting of the type of culture that contemporary India was becoming. This idea strongly resonated with musicians such as Raghu Dixit (see Chapter 7) and Subir Malik of Parikrama, who stated that “… you can’t change a human’s influences, whatever music you make, whichever language, Hindi, English, French, Tamil, the influences you’ve had all of your life which have inspired you to get into music will stay with you until the end”15 Acknowledging these disparate influences allows room for flexible identities  –​a highly sought-​after commodity in a global world, and a selling strategy in the global marketplace of ideas and concepts.

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Musically, the two shows (Coke Studio and KDBRO) also differed in their approach and final product. KDBRO encouraged judges to ask “what Indianness do you bring to the table?”  –​a subtle but definite reminder that rock is not indigenously Indian, and it must be made so to be accepted. Coke Studio, on the other hand, makes no such assumptions or restrictions, allowing Indian musicians to adapt the genre to express their own artistic identity, and celebrating, rather than prescribing, the performer’s capacity to enact that self-​expression. Coke Studio succeeded, in part, by acknowledging the composer’s ability to fuse desi and videshi music, and by not ignoring the behaviors and processes of actual musicians. Interestingly, one could argue that Coke Studio’s product is decidedly more authentically Indian in identity, in that it recognizes and normalizes the styles and creativity of independent Indian musicians, reinforcing their role as professional musicians in their own right. Similar music shows followed. MTV Unplugged (India) first aired in 2011 and still runs presently, with a total of 56 episodes so far. It was based on the original MTV Unplugged, the American series that aired from 1989to 1999 and intermittently thereafter as MTV Unplugged 2.0. The goal of MTV Unplugged is to highlight musicians in an informal setting, stripping away, according to Barker and Taylor, “as much of the technical and studio assistance that protected the artist as much as possible. The artists would perform their songs, preferably on acoustic instruments…and the audience could the judge whether or not these were musicians and singers who could really perform” (Barker and Taylor 2007, 5). Democratizing the judging process serves to educate audiences to engage in the processes, as many musicians bemoan the lack of musical knowledge on the part of their fans. Sensing more room for expansion, MTV India launched additional channels featuring shows that catered to music programming and reality TV. With the creation of the Pepsi MTV Indies in 2014, MTV responded to the desire in India for an Indie music platform. In a review of its debut, the author Vinaya acknowledges the timeliness of Pepsi MTV Indies, stating that its launch coincides with the segmentation of the audience, in which “multiple factors like their interests, the devices they use to access entertainment and their need to be a part of a socially connected world” (2014). Nidhu Gupta of The Sunday Guardian also mentions that Pepsi MTV Indies is a channel that “puts the focus on ‘alternative’ music, film, art, street culture and fashion.” Gupta points to the groundwork for this channel by mentioning that the show MTV Roots provided a platform for Indie music that received an overwhelming response. Ankur Tewari, head of programming at Pepsi MTV India and band member of the Ghalat Family is quoted in the same article saying, “the signs were ominous and what started as a small slot soon snowballed into a whole channel” (Gupta 2014). These cases illustrate specific music channels and the ways in which they adapted to changing Indian identity. The shows identify and negotiate the needs of the contemporary Indian youth market, capturing their attention with targeted programming. In short, the content that succeeded was able to negotiate the Indian zeitgeist concerning the politics of language (Hinglish vs. Hindi or English), musical genres (Indie, film, rock, metal), and cultural programming. These formats fit the cultural demands for independent sounds as well as Bollywood playlists, culturally accommodating foreign music and ideas within the Indian public sphere while creating a space through which India can claim authenticity in the area of rock music.

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The Internet With T-​series, India Owns YouTube Cable TV, however, was just the beginning.With over 500 million online internet users, India was positioned to move the needle on internet content. Within the past five years, India has done just that, with an old cassette company named T-​series dominating YouTube views. The T-​series brand began in the 1980s under less than legal circumstances by Gulshan Kumar in Delhi, as he sold pirated cassettes. After “going legit” a few years later, T-​series became one of the top selling cassette companies, launching Bollywood film soundtracks and even local cassette artists into stardom (Manuel 1993). Its logo remains unchanged throughout the years, and is still a familiar brand in cassettes in every corner shop, at every mandir and masjid (temple and mosque) in India. Although Gulshan was murdered by a mafia gang in the late 1990s, his company continued its film soundtrack distribution and even got into film production. By 2010, the T-​series YouTube channel began uploading content, and by 2013, it already had 1 billion views. As of now, T-​series is the most viewed channel on the entire YouTube platform. With 59 billion views as of this writing, T-​series trumps every other channel that tunes into its content online, and is second online in terms of number of subscriptions, with 79  million. The channel features Bollywood and independent music videos and film trailers, and promotes the latest launchings. It has 29 additional channels in different languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, etc.) and features different genres and demographics (kids, Punjabi devotional, Punjabi hits, Bollywood classics, and others). Over 40% of T-​series subscribers live outside of India in the Indian diaspora, which, according to the UN, is the largest diaspora in the world at 16 million as of 2016. BATTLE OF THE YOUTUBE CHANNELS As of the end of 2018, T-​series had skyrocketed through the ranks of subscribers to rival long-​time YouTube star PewDiePie, with T-​series expecting to overtake the comedy star at any time.16 80

YouTube Subscribers (millions)





T-series (1983)

Eros (1977)

Shemaroo (1962)

Rajshri (1947)

Figure 6.3  India’s biggest YouTube channels (2018)

Venus (1992)

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Other such film-​turned-​YouTube companies have huge followings as well, including Eros Entertainment (1977), a Bollywood film and entertainment company with 15 million subscribers; and Rajshri, a 1947 film production company that launched a YouTube channel to promote Hindi film music with 10 million subscribers. Shemaroo (1962), a film company featuring Bollywood music with 12  million subscribers, and Venus Entertainment (1992), a cassette company with 7 million –​all primarily play film music videos. See Figure 6.3. From the 1990s onward, the Indian music industry and technology played catch-​ up with the world. Liberalization had loosened restrictions on global media in India, and  the first two peri-​and post-​liberal generations  –​Millenials and Generation Zs  –​ assumed the mantle of globalization as part of their identity. Technology and access to it infiltrated the music and film industry, with Bollywood and independent music using advanced technology and techniques to create newer contemporary vibes. QUEER THEMES AND NEW MEDIA While mainstream queer-​ themed Indian films are becoming more common, they are far from accepted as legitimate expressions of “queerness” in India. New media platforms, however, provide spaces for queer representation. YouTube, for example, also serves as an “underground” for Indian queer-​themed music to thrive. YouTubers reupholster romance songs from Indian films over queer montages. This kind of repurposing is similar to fan fiction, which at its most primary level represent absent or marginalized voices. YouTube is the main source for posting the repurposed Bollywood numbers in queer contexts. A prime example of this is the song “Le Chala” from the 2016 Indian thriller-​drama film, One Night Stand. The original Indian film picturization depicts a highly sensual heterosexual romantic scene between Sunny Leone and Tanuj Virwani.17 This new YouTube version, however, repurposes the song for a sepia queer romance montage between two Caucasian men. The source of the video which this song is re-​synchronized with is an HBO series called Looking, and it clearly depicts a queer romance unfolding. An earlier example of repurposing a heterosexual romantic song over a queer narrative occurred in the diaspora art film Fire (1996) by Deepa Mehta. The two female leads, Sita and Radha, are engaged in a secret love affair, and are pictured lip syncing and dancing to the 1950s Bollywood romance song, “Aaja Jara Mere Dil Ke Sahare Dilruba” from the film, Ek Jhalak. Sita is dressed as a man in a suit and Radha is dressed as a woman. This moment explores sexuality and the flexibility of gender roles, and homosociality in a safe, performative, queer space. Taking Bollywood romance film songs and repurposing them for queer relationships helps in normalizing LGBTQI+ life in India.

INDEPENDENT BAND WEBSITES Early websites include, launched by Sandeep Mittal as an online underground magazine for rock music in 1999 (Gore 2016). was a way for bands to connect, discuss gigs, concerts, and post reviews in fora, giving people an

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opportunity to reflect on the band culture. It was considered to be Facebook before Facebook. The sites also had concert reviews and discussion fora, and critiques from other band members. In addition to YouTube, one of the best sites for learning about other bands in India is India Bands Hub ( This site holds profiles of hundreds of bands in India, containing information for each band such as a listing of band members and instruments, origin, genre, and links for individual tracks, websites and YouTube videos. Students and musicians alike listen to bands on here from around India.

School and Youth Music Culture What does all of this access and technology mean for young listeners in India? Over the past decade, I’ve conducted original research talking to Indian teenagers, young adults, music educators, and professional musicians about their music listening and playing habits. I’ve also observed and participated in school music programs with high school music teachers and after- school institutions in New Delhi, teaching and learning about attitudes to Indian popular music, film music, and music education. In this section, I cover the thoughts and aspirations of young musicians concerning their perspective on contemporary music in India. It is not difficult to imagine that India has the largest school going-​population in the world at 315  million (Varma 2014) and over 1.5 millon schools (Government of India 2014), with 65% of children attending government schools and 35% in private institutions. In urban areas, it is typical to find schools with an average of 3,000 students or more. Private schools particularly are in competition to attract students and receive institutional accolades, so including the most amenities and perks is common. One of these perks is the ability to offer instruction in Western as well as Indian classical music. Western music education consists of learning various instruments (keyboard and drums) and vocals, and participating in the chorus or band. Such programs are typically understaffed in schools, so like much education in India, students who can afford it take after-​school lessons or tuition. INDIAN TEENAGERS, REBEL? Until the late 1970s, Indian social scientists claimed that the Indian adolescent did not exist as a sociological category (Anandlakshmi, 1978 and Ramanujam, 1979). In 2012, Bansal’s study on youth in contemporary India describes a move from an agrarian society in which adolescence as a separate stage was limited, to urban youth who found themselves facing a wide selection of lifestyles including “vocational, ideological and sexual choices.” Psychosocially, “urban centres of Indian society are witnessing the phenomenon of psychological adolescence and its extension into youth which is real and not merely a media artifact” (257). Pop and rock, with their US/​UK roots, are linked with the development of an individualized personal identity underscored by an embedded sense of adolescent rebellion. While genres such as rock, punk, and heavy metal may seem out of sync

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with conservative Indian culture, a 2009 study by DeSouza, Kumar and Shashtri on Indian youth found significantly more progressive attitudes among adolescents (23), suggesting room a cultural musical shift. As we have seen, most popular musicians come from upper middle-​class backgrounds, and meet in colleges or schools. The inclination to rebel is not inherently part of any class in India, nor is it part of the cultural ontology. The desire to rebel against parents or society, therefore, is not the driving force behind Indian rockers or metal musicians as it has been in the West. Indian teenagers typically do not place a high premium on independence, and living with their parents and other relatives in close proximity at all stages of life is not uncommon. Even in the 1960s, the anti-​war protests did not fuel the rock scene in India. Although Indians understood that the West opposed the Vietnam war (India’s position was pro-​Vietnam), counter-​culture movement protests did not materialize in India. As Noonan Bagachi from Great Bear says, “We still considered Bob Dylan as a guru of music, and not of social change.”18 The idea of rebellion is not typically part and parcel of the allure for teenagers in India, nor is the idea of music associated with social protest. Bruce Lee Mani from TAAQ believes Indians rebel very narrowly, only becoming non-​conformist in small ways, and mostly maintaining the accepted social ideals.19

WESTERN MUSIC LESSONS IN INDIA: LEGACY OF THE RAJ One of the most influential musical legacies of the British Raj are two schools of classical music education:  Trinity College London, established in India over 125 years ago, and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music or ABRSM, established in India by 1948. These after-​school institutions teach piano, violin, voice, brass, guitar, woodwind, etc., and provide roughly 200,000 Indian music students a year with lessons and graded exams. In 2012, Trinity expanded its classical offerings creating a series of graded exams in the rock and pop series and extending lessons to bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, and vocals, They also produced a series of graded repertoire books containing the icons of rock and pop (Bob Dylan, the Who, Weather Report, Dream Theater, Rush, the Pretenders, the Beatles, Chuck Berry, AC/​DC, David Bowie, Nirvana, Coldplay, the Cure, Joe Cocker, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Metallica, etc.). ABRSM does have a jazz component for flute, clarinet, sax and piano, but not for rock or pop performance. In 1991, Rockschool Ltd, a graded series of pieces and exams developed in the UK, was established. According to Ritesh Khokhar, Rockschool first came to India in 2005 after he and Anjli Mata, the Trinity College of Music North India representative, helped to establish it in India. Ritesh’s music school, the Gurgaon Music School outside Delhi, was the first use the Rockschool curriculum. Students learn rock, take lessons, and learn pieces from graded books. Many of the pieces they learn are complete copies of original tunes, which are renamed from the bands such as Led Zeppelin, and Eminem (“Mohair Mountain” is Rock School’s name for

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Zepplin’s “Moby Dick,” and “Little Shady” is taken from an Eminem song). India now holds exams and lessons with eight grades of repertoire including Tom Petty, Taylor Swift, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Norah Jones, the Beatles, Metallica, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Johnson, and Brad Paisley. Teens and young adults in the upper middle class listen to music from a variety of sources and media, from radio to digital. The sources to which students have access also vary quite extensively, and are dependent on several factors, including socioeconomic status, parental support, and so forth. Families with financial means have the latest laptops or computers with mobile hotspots or home wi-​fi systems, and have their own smartphone or access to one. Some students take music lessons through one of the music programs mentioned above (such as Trinity, ABRSM, Rockschool), depending on their general interest level in music and financial resources, while others teach themselves through websites (whether they perform or just listen). Social media use among students is ubiquitous; Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and previously Orkut, etc. are regularly used to share music choices, experiences, music performance clips, photos, likes, and so forth. The majority of people stream or download MP3s, mostly from global sites like YouTube, BeeMP3 and ReverbNation, but also consult local sites like and from Pakistan.

Youth identity and Bollywood music Young adults with whom I  spoke with had definite opinions on their relationship to Bollywood music, and put a lot of thought into many aspects of their music consumption habits, including a rather sophisticated, self-​reflexive ideas of where Indian film and other popular musics fit in with their own identity. As of my discussions, most people understood the categories of film and pop music to be separate entities, at least on a cognitive level, although in application and behavior, this was not always the case. As the most significant and identifiable genre of music in South Asia, it is impossible not to grapple with film music as a massive musical force. Youth reject or embrace film music or Western music based on a complex set of negotiations involving individual desire, social background, aspirations and worldview. Their reactions ran the gamut from strong identification with it to complete disdain for it. Many students sincerely enjoyed and identified with it, while others accepted it as part of their friends’, family’s and culture’s identity but did not listen to it (or did not admit listening to it). Students who strongly identified with Western songs seemed to belong to a higher income level, had a strong future career direction, and a need to search beyond the limitations of film music. There is also a desire to explore all of the possibilities of other genres, in terms of expression, musical and technical skills, and so forth. Interestingly, the guitar plays a large role in Western music identification, as there is little Bollywood repertoire featuring the instrument. Any guitarist interested in learning the instrument must turn to rock and pop repertoire, either through a teacher, or more often, through video tutorials. Use of the tutorials not only allows them access to these genres, but the process of learning itself (e.g. chord progressions and strumming technique) is quintessentially the province of Western music, the rock canon, and rock history.

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Western Pop: Inspiration and Appeal RockOn!!!, Life in a Metro, RockStar, and Delhi Belly are films that contain influential songs that inspire students and pique their desire to perform. The song “Give Me Some Sunshine” from the film 3 Idiots (2009), for example, is cited by students as being very appealing to play, often acting as a gateway to rock and the desire to learn the guitar in particular. The song begins with simple strummed guitar chords, and features a lone male singer in an emotional outpouring of loss, failure, passion, and longing. While some of the song’s popularity is related to its context in the film depicting students who are under tremendous academic and family pressure, its significant appeal comes, at least in part, from this very accessible guitar vamp, English lyrics, and its authenticity of individual emotional expression. These are all significant markers of rock’s core identity. Not surprisingly, students also mentioned a deep attachment to Sufi rock music that features the guitar and contains these same emotional characteristics. Rachit, for example, is a Hindu, but is very taken with Sufi songs. Vishal–​Shekhar’s “Allah ke bande hans de” from Waisa Bhi Hota Hai (2003), and Rahman’s “Nadaan Parinda” from Rockstar are two of his favorites: “I appreciate the poetry, the passion, and the deeper meaning in Sufi music.” Students who are in school rock bands followed the time-​honored tradition of great independent musicians in India by listening to and imitating songs. Students go online to a wide range of website tutorials to find chords and how to play them, as well as jamming for each other and learning from those friends who already knew how to play. They not only followed the processes of learning the songs, but copied the emotional and cathartic nature of independent music, aiming to match in intensity of the Sufi and rock numbers in Bollywood. While learning technique and absorbing the “greats” (artists, songs, bands) online, students share commonalities with other musicians within India and around the globe who are doing and have done the same thing –​gaining access to generations of rock pedigree. The online tutorials allow them to participate in a global and social musicscape, where the number of views counts not only in terms of popularity, but as a direct conduit to the Western rock legacy and all that it signifies. Some of the young people I spoke with self-​identified as musicians. They were either highly interested in music making, were in or wanted to be in a band, or had a high interest in performing. Many were already performing at school functions and in band competitions. Students in this category listened to an enormously wide range of different genres, mostly highly popular groups. Those more involved with music had a preference for more niche-​oriented bands and genres. Eight band members from one high school, for example, described the songs they liked as “soft songs” that were soothing, relaxing and slow, such as “Hotel California,” (the Eagles) or “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s. They also enjoy rock, such as “1,000 Miles Away” by Hoodoo Gurus (an Australian band), and Simple Plan (Canadian rock), Linkin Park (American rock) as well as to heavy metal’s Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, and Lamb of God. The boys would listen to female singers such as Taylor Swift as well. Not surprisingly, one of the most popular types of songs were inspirational and aspirational in nature, with positive and uplifting lyrics that raise self-​esteem and promise a positive outlook for the future. These sentiments are prevalent in India’s school culture. Popular songs address students’ connection to current well-​being, and had wide global appeal and distribution, many of them averaging 1 to 2 billion YouTube views.

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Uplifting songs come in many forms, from rock and pop to spiritual or religious-​ based music such as Sufi and Christian music, and even to American country music. The Christian singer Brandon Heath’s “Give Me Your Eyes” (2008) was mentioned as a favorite. These songs were even sung in school during music class. This is not unusual in that music teachers are recruited from Christian populations in the northeast e.g. Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur, and the south, e.g. Goa and Kerala, because of their musical training (see Chapter 5). Because of a lack of music education training, these teachers are familiar with only the Christian repertoire, and teach those songs in schools regardless of the school’s religious affiliation. Said one teacher, “many western music teachers use sacred western music (in general music classrooms), country or gospel to teach, or sometimes Disney, even in non-​Christian schools.”20 I sat in on many classes and choir rehearsals in which contemporary Christian music dominated the repertoire, and was greatly surprised to hear one of Randy Travis’s gospel numbers taught in a second-​grade general music class. Competitions are a major part of Indian school culture. Exams, class rankings, projects, science fairs, and especially music are highly competitive. As discussed in Chapter  5, Battle of the Band contests and competitions were very popular, and Indian schools followed suit. Christian songs in Indian schools were not uncommon in that many of the best trained music teachers came from the northeast or Goa and were hired all over India. These Christian songs were in their repertoire, and they passed them along in the classroom. Popular music competitions, including those for rock and metal bands, could be compared to marching band competitions, which dominate high schools in the US. Schools have their own rock bands that represent the school in competitive functions and have a chance to win a trophy for their performance. Many of the most popular songs were of the uplifting feel-​good variety. Western pop and rock are commonly heard during the school day with both “Western choirs” and school rock bands, being featured in daily school life as well as inter-​school competitions. In one of the schools where I visited, one of the bands chose to sing Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Hall of Fame.” The group practiced and sang lyrics about succeeding, overcoming obstacles, and reaping the rewards of fame and glory, with nearly perfect American accents. One school’s advanced Western choir performed “Firework,” by Katy Perry, a single off her Teenage Dream album. Critics cited the lyrics as a straightforward, economical self-​esteem anthem with its inspiration taken from the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road. The song embodies not only technical but also stylistic and emotional aspects of music, which are highly important to adolescents. CASE STUDY: MY HEART WILL ROAR ON A few years ago, I was observing a classical Indian singing class in a Christian high school in Delhi, watching 45 to 50 students sitting on the floor (which is typical), learning a raga. The music teacher asked one of the girls to sing the raga, which she did perfectly, using proper ornamentation, inflection, and improvisation. On her way out of the classroom, however, she quietly stopped to talk to me, well out of earshot of the Indian music teacher, who she knew would not approve of what she was about to do. She asked if she could sing another song for me, then launched

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into “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic, copying every nuance, tone, inflection, and kinesics. It was quite clear from her pronunciation, however, that she had never seen the words, and had learned the song phonetically –​a small foible that was easily overshadowed by the passion with which she sang, and obvious pride in having learned the song on her own so well. Roshika, a 15-​year-​old girl in another high school in Delhi, was preparing to enter an upcoming talent competition taking place between her school and others in the area. She came to the music teacher during a free class for help on her song, which was Katy Perry’s “Roar.” At the time, I  had not heard the song, so I  experienced it for the first time through Roshika’s eyes before ever hearing Perry’s version. What prompted Roshika to select this song to sing? Most of Roshika’s favorite pop songs fall into the category of strong female singers and role models, such as Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, and Katy Perry. She watches the VH1 television channel in English, and then searches for the videos on the internet to watch afterwards. She also listens to them by downloading the songs from MP3 Skulls. For Roshika, “Roar” was a very popular “power pop” song, known for standing up for oneself (as a female) and overcoming obstacles. The lyrics highlighted soul-​searching for one’s inner strength in the face of adversity. Since India’s rather conservative social outlook also responds to songs that are less than sexually explicit, Perry’s “Roar” is cited as a clean, girl-​power anthem –​what the Rolling Stones refer to as an “empowerment anthem.” Although the lyrics might be a bit clichéd, and highly referential of many other “power anthems” over the decades (e.g. Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” Queen’s “We Are the Champions”), there is the gender aspect portrayed in the video in which Perry is abandoned by her boyfriend in the jungle after he gets killed by a tiger. She learns to fend for herself and survive. By the end of the video, she has mastered the tiger. Just like Sneha above, Roshika spent hours meticulously, and with great determination, intensity and effort, watching Perry’s videos on YouTube, and trying to replicate her vocal style, angst, and energy in preparation for the competition. Roshika physically struggled to transform her voice into the expressive, sonic vehicle that she had mentally embodied, a priori, but did not have the trained vocal apparatus to express –​to satisfactorily “roar” –​she attributed her awkward posture to what she regarded as a ‘faithful’ imitation of Perry’s physicality from the video, which, in typical music video fashion, deliberately exaggerates movements and kinesics to add to the power of the song. Although the video itself can be “read” as projecting female empowerment, the visuals, including Katy Perry’s clothing and actions, also display her body in sexualized fantasy form. However, to Roshika and millions of girls like her, a song that seems hackneyed and clichéd according to critics is significant and even sublime in Roshika’s reinterpretation as a teenage girl searching for a female with a strong and powerful voice.

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Informal music learning through YouTube tutorials and through modeling and imitation is a significant aspect for many students. While the idea of searching for and repeatedly listening to and memorizing a song via earbuds or headphones is certainly not unique, their ability to use technology allows youth to experience a type of control over at least this aspect of their lives that they do not typically experience in other areas. Adolescents in India are highly aware of the role that authority figures such as parents and teachers play in their lives  –​a significant number of decisions involving their schedule, friends, and life must take into account family values and opinions. Students felt as though they had very little room in negotiating a sense of self in relation to authority values and directives, and that their desires were not valued. Students across the board felt that most people in their lives do not support them in their musical pursuits, and that there are those who are always there to “tear you down.” There is the “crab in the bucket” mentality, as they call it, in which students feel that they are always getting pulled back in rather than getting pushed to succeed. Musician and music education entrepreneur Ritesh Khokhar recounts his journey to becoming a musician: When I  started into music, I  was inspired by my ability to do something musical with the instruments as compared to my friends in school. I  am yet unable to figure out what got me so curious about music that eventually I practiced for long hours trying to master music that was alien to my ears, i.e. Classical music. I am a type of person who takes challenges head on. I was twice turned down by senior music teachers for teaching me sitar and singing, which would typically be enough for any aspiring musician in their teens to give up music. I however continued playing by ear and finally found a good teacher at Delhi School of Music who agreed to teach me piano. I was doing well with music and completed a two year diploma in Software Engineering in my college years. I had to make a choice between taking computers or music professionally. I chose music simply because I was spending majority of my time practicing piano and playing with bands, without any career planning whatsoever. When I was turned down a scholarship to study music abroad, I started teaching at Sri Ram School and one thing led to another. In just couple of months, I was running private music classes at the school in evening hours with my two colleagues. It was meant to be a stop gap arrangement till I find a way to go abroad for higher studies in music. That stop gap arrangement eventually became permanent!21 Many who wanted music lessons, however, are not able to get them. Parental support or tolerance for their child’s interest in learning music is uneven at best across India. While many parents do provide encouragement and pay for lessons, others believe that lessons are of little value. Some families agree to their child’s lessons as long as their career path in engineering, medicine, physics, or other professions does not suffer. Digital technology allows many the ability to listen for pleasure, with anonymity and without being judged, to whatever they please, and to explore genres, sites, and messages that help their self-​esteem and express what they cannot express in their everyday life. In short, taking control of their music learning was a significant way for students to bypass restrictions and criticism.

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Notes 1 Ironically, as Ramit Mehra of Local Train points out, there is actually very little rock music in Rockstar. 2 See Chapter 4 in this book and Beaster-​Jones (2015, 161–​162) for further discussion of filmi-​genres. 3 The tradition vs. modernity dichotomy, where tradition is good and modernity is bad, dominated Indian films from the 1960s into the late 1990s. 4 With music by A. R. Rahman and lyrics by Gulzar, and sung by Rabbi Shergill. 5 Read more of the lyrics at:​2012/​10/​challa-​lyrics-​translation-​english-​srk.html 6 Read more of the lyrics at KrazyLyrics:​2013/​04/​01/​allah-​ke-​bande/​ 7 As mentioned earlier, India skipped past the CD stage, and went directly to download and streaming. 8 Globalized Indian middle-​class tastes, rising disposable income, and easily affordable technologies completely reversed the trend from physical to digital consumption from 58/​20 in 2008 to 33/​55 in 2014. 9 Honey left the show after a few weeks and music Director Himesh Reshammiya took over his spot. 10 Initially, MTV established itself as MTV Asia in 1991, broadcasting throughout the region. 11 Kurkure is a brand of popped corn snack developed by PepsiCo India. 12 Desi refers to a product or person from the Indian subcontinent. 13 Listen to 12 songs from Coke Studio India: https://​www.coca-​​stories/​top-​12-​songs​from-​coke-​studio 14 Coke Studio began in Brazil in 2007, and became an international franchise. 15 Personal communication, Subir Malik, Parikrama (band member), July 23, 2017. 16 For a very dramatic look at T-​series rising through the ranks, visit https://​​ watch?v=TBtCESR8zkk 17 View at https://​​watch?v=f6pgJTb-​mDE 18 View Rockumentary, “Becoming of Indian Rock (Part One),” at https://​​ watch?v=w-​QN_​LletgI 19 Personal communication, December 17, 2018. 20 Personal communication, July 13, 2015. 21 Personal interview, January 12, 2019.

Bibliography Abbas, Shemeem Burney. 2007. “Risky Knowledge in Risky Times: Political Discourses of Qawwālī and Sūfīana‐kalam in Pakistan‐Indian Sufism Shemeem.” Wiley Online Library, October 24: https://​doi. org/​10.1111/​j.1478-​1913.2007.00204.x Bali, Karan. 2017. “An Indian Elvis in Bollywood!” Upperstall:  https://​​features/​an​indian-​elvis-​in-​bollywood/​ Barker, Hugh, and Yuval Taylor. 2007. Faking It:  The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music. W. W. Norton. Booth, Gregory. 2014. “The Beat Comes to India: The Incorporation of Rock Music into the Indian Soundscape.” In More than Bollywood: Studies in Indian Popular Music, edited by Gregory D. Booth and Bradley Shope, pp. 216–​237. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brindley, Paul. 2017. “India:  The Sleeping Giant of Digital Music is Ready to Wake Up.” Musically, December 22: https://​​2017/​12/​22/​india-​sleeping-​giant-​digital-​music/​ Coventry, C. 2013. “‘Come Join the Rock Gharaana’: The Cultural Politics of MTV’s Kurkure Desi Beats Rock On.” Journal of Creative Communications, 8:1, 3–​14. Cullity, Jocelyn. 2002. “The Global Desi: Cultural Nationalism on Mtv India.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 26:4, 408–​425. Gore, Dipti. 2016. “Cartesian Consulting’s Ambitious Dream  –​Leadership in Analytics Market in India!”, November 15: https://​​cartesian-​consulting/​

206  •  Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today Government of India. 2014. Table 5: Number of Institutions by Type, 2014–​15.” Ministry of Human Resource Development: https://​​What-​is-​the-​total-​number-​of-​government-​schools-​in-​India Gunther, Mark. 2004. “MTV’s Passage to India:  The Country’s Vast Middle Class is a Tantalizing Market. Here’s What One Company Has Learned.” CNN’s Money, August 9:  https://​money.cnn. com/​magazines/​fortune/​fortune_​archive/​2004/​08/​09/​377904/​index.htm Gupta, Nidhi. 2014. “Reality May Have Killed the Radio Star, but Independent Music Gives it New Impetus.” The Sunday Guardian, April 6. Hu, Cherie. 2017. “How India, The Global Music Industry’s Sleeping Giant, Is Finally Waking Up.” Forbes, September 23:  https://​​sites/​cheriehu/​2017/​09/​23/​how-​india-​the-​global-​ music-​industrys-​sleeping-​giant-​is-​finally waking-​up/​#57c39f1b30bf Indian Television. 2014. “Star Plus Gambles High with India’s Raw Star.” Indian Television, August 18:​television/​tv-​channels/​gecs/​star-​plus-​gambles-​high-​with-​india-​s-​raw​star-​140818 Kvetko, Peter. 2009. “Private Music:  Individualism, Authenticity and Boundaries in the Bombay Music Industry.” In Popular Culture in a Globalized India, edited by K. Moti Gokulsing and Wimal Dissanayake. London: Routledge. Magnatune. n.d. “Junoon Featuring Salman Ahmad: The U2 of the Muslim World.” Magnatune: http://​​artists/​junoon Manuel, Peter. 2008. “North Indian Sufi Popular Music in the Age of Hindu and Muslim Fundamentalism.” Ethnomusicology 52:3, 378–​400. Mazzarella, William. 2003. Shoveling Smoke:  Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Nielsen. 2018. “India Music 360 2018.” Nielsen: https://​​in/​en/​insights/​report/​2018/​ india-​music-​360-​report/​ Rinder, Grant. 2018. “Indian Music Culture Thriving in the Streaming Age, Shows Nielsen Report:  Exclusive.” Billboard, September 11:  https://​​articles/​business/​ streaming/​8474712/​india-​music-​culture-​streaming-​nielsen-​360-​report-​2018 Sarazzin, N. 2013. “Global Masala: Digital Identities and Aesthetic Trajectories in Post-​Liberalization Indian Film Music.” In More than Bollywood: Studies in Indian Popular Music, edited by Gregory D. Booth and Bradley Shope, pp. 38–​59. Sarrazin, N. 2017. “Magic, Destruction, and Redemption in the Soundtracks of Aashiqui 2, RockStar, and RockOn!!” In Music in Contemporary Indian Film:  Memory, Voice, Identity, edited by Jayson Beaster-​Jones and Natalie Sarrazin, pp. 91–​104. Routledge. Schroeder, Robert. 2007. “Sufi Rocker, Campus Troubadour.” Wall Street Journal, August 21: https://​​articles/​SB118764977308303414 Tsering, Lisa. 2011. “Rockstar: Film Review.” Hollywood Reporter, November 12: www.hollywoodreporter. com/​review/​rockstar-​film-​review-​260758 Varma, Subodh. 2014. “At 315 Million, India Has the Most Students in World.” Times of India, July 3:  https://​​india/​At-​315-​million-​India-​has-​the-​most-​students-​in-​world/​ articleshow/​37669667.cms



Modern Music Guru-​s

This final chapter introduces readers to a close look at four contemporary artists who are representative of the best and most influential people in the current popular music scene in India today. Case studies for this chapter were selected based on direct relevance to the book in terms of the artists’ popularity, impact, genre, and representation of the current music scene. Each case study includes background, the artists’ aesthetic and compositional technique, one or two representative songs and a brief analysis. The four case studies include A. R. Rahman, whose name has been synonymous with Indian film for the past 30 years; Raghu Dixit, independent folk-​rock and film composer; Thermal and a Quarter, a Bangalore Rock group; and The Local Train, an up-​and-​coming rock band from Delhi. All of these artists can be found on lists of the most relevant musicians in India. I conducted recent interviews with all of the groups for this book (the Raghu Dixit Project, The Local Train, and TAAQ), and interviewed Rahman earlier, in 2006. The chapter is structured as follows: •• •• •• ••

The sound of popular film music in India: A. R. Rahman, Tamil and Hindi film •• “Satrangi Re” (Dil Se) (see Chapter 3) •• “Khwaja mere Khwaja” Folk on the road: the Raghu Dixit Project, Bangalore folk-​rock •• “Lokada Kalaji” Progressive and proud: Thermal and a Quarter, Bangalore rock •• “Paper Puli” •• “Meter Mele One and a Half ” Up and coming: The Local Train, Delhi rock •• “Aaoge Tum Kabhi” •• “Taaqif ” 207

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Introduction Making it as a full-​time musician in India is a very risky and challenging proposition given the lack of family support, mentorship, or a clear pathway to survive while gigging. Below are case studies of four musicians or groups that are at various stages of “making it.” In order to be able to more easily compare the most successful with those “up and coming,” I’ve focused on four areas: the artists’ background, their “big break,” their compositional process and unique aesthetic, and then an analysis of music and lyrics from several of their songs.

A. R. Rahman: The Sound of Popular Film Music in India Throughout this book, one name is consistently mentioned for its impact on the music scene in India post 1990: A. R. Rahman. Rahman is known by many names including the Mozart of Madras and Isai Puyal (“Storm of Music”) for his prodigious talent and output. Musicians across India and the world are unified in their admiration of his skills and contribution to music, not only his impact on changing the soundscape of Indian popular music, but his success in advancing it across the globe. He has garnered two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, and earned over a dozen Filmfare Awards and four National Film Awards in India along with countless other awards and recognition. He is best known as a film song composer, although he also sings in many films, and is well known for his background scores. Rahman has undertaken three world tours (see Chapter 1), collaborated on a musical premiered in London and worldwide called Bombay Dreams with Andrew Lloyd Webber, sold 150  million records, and influenced millions. Background A. R. Rahman (nee Dilip Kumar) was born in 1967 and began learning piano at age four. His father worked in Tamil film as a film score composer and conductor, giving Rahman his first exposure to the industry. Rahman, initially interested in engineering, came to music after his father bought a synthesizer. When Rahman was nine, he had to help the family financially after his father’s untimely death. By age 11, he was working as part of Ilayaraja’s troupe in Tamil films. He became involved in several bands as a teenager called Roots and Nemesis, and received a scholarship to Trinity College for a three-​year degree in composition and piano, earning a diploma in Western classical music. Rahman’s greatest personal transition came in his early twenties when he changed his religion. His sister became ill and recovered after visiting a Muslim pir, and his very spiritual mother, a Hindu, became close to a Sufi pir. After these encounters, Rahman felt that Sufism suited him better. It quelled his identity issues at the time and helped him choose the right path for himself. Rahman has been a devout Muslim ever since, applying his devotion to composing some of the best Sufi-​inspired film songs known in Indian film. Rahman’s Big Break Rahman’s success came at a perfect confluence of events. Liberalization policies, which began in the mid-​1980s, had opened up India and good equipment was more easily

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available. Consumerism was on the rise, and agencies were spending money on advertising and hiring jingle writers. By the late 1980s, Rahman was working as a studio musician composing advertising jingles and documentary music. His enthusiasm for technology appeared early on through in his love of the synthesizer, due to its marriage of technology and piano. His first big break came in 1991 when he won an award for best advertising jingle for a Tamil ad for Leo Coffee (a 30-​second composition with a light jazz feel but already with his signature compositional style including bass, flute, sitar, synthesizer, and tabla).1 The directors of the ad, Rahman’s cousin Sharada Nair and her husband Trilok, then introduced Rahman to film director Mani Ratnam. Ratnam typically worked with Ilayaraja, but the two had a falling out, leaving the music director position open. Ratnam searched among the jingle writers for a new director, rejecting one before turning to Dileep. The first movie he was contracted for was Thiruda, Thiruda, a Butch Cassidy-​themed film.2 Thiruda, Thiruda, which came out in 1993, bombed, but the soundtrack contains the trademark elements of Rahman’s signature sound, including a wide range of styles and instruments (e.g. the tango and castanets), Tamil-​inspired harmonies, genres jazz vocals and instruments. His breakthrough soundtrack for Roja, however, is one of his signature works. In an interview, Rahman discusses his initial interactions with Ratnam and the film. Since it was his first film, I wanted to know if he was intimidated by the prospect of composing for a three-​hour film instead of just a short commercial. “I was terrified in the beginning,” replied Rahman. “But then I learned that if I could write a piece of music that was 30 seconds long, then all I’d have to do is repeat it!” Luckily, Roja went on to launch Rahman’s career, and was a highly acclaimed film. Roja led to two more films in the trilogy, Bombay and Dil Se, which were re-​released in Hindi in the Mumbai markets, launching Rahman to superstardom. Composition Style In 1989, Rahman built AM Studios in Chennai, which was one of the most advanced and best-​equipped sound studios in India. It consists of four buildings containing screening rooms, archives, and rooms for dozens of arrangers. Each room contains computers (MACS), and synthesizers as a  great deal of Rahman’s music utilizes the synthesizer. Unlike other music directors, Rahman prefers to compose from his own studios in Madras, Panthatham Inn and AM Studios in Chennai or at his AM Studios in Mumbai rather than other studios. Composing this way requires a great deal of coordination and digital exchange, including phone calls with the lyricists to make sure each syllable is correctly set. He also has a penchant for composing at night –​all night –​and sleeping during the day, and has come up with some of his best inspirations in the middle of the night. He also prefers to work with one musician at a time rather than entire ensembles (Getter and Balasubrahmaniyan 2008, 125). He composes on the keyboard and uses just a few “real” instruments in his arrangements. Because of his almost exclusive reliance on synthesizers, his compositions are free from the well-​entrenched physical orchestra, giving them a noticeably new and different sound. One of the reasons Roja was such a departure from the style of music at the time was the way it was recorded. Rahman explained, “At the time, there were these huge recording halls, with 50 violins,” he said.

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But I was doing commercials in my own studio. When Mani wanted me to do the music, I said, “Let’s do it at my place.” I called my musician friends to come for the session, but at the last minute they all ditched me! I think they had all been offered more money somewhere that day. But my mother said, “God will provide.” I ended up recording [the instrumental version of] “Choti Si Asha” by myself, on a keyboard and sequencer. I thought I’d need to bring in 50 violins, but Mani said “No, just be yourself. Follow your instincts.”3 As much as his fans and fellow artists love his music, Rahman is notorious for taking his time on each project. “I have a nice relationship with all directors, but I drive the producers crazy,” he joked. “Mani [Ratnam] tells me the story that he told me for Roja, ‘I need five songs, and I need them yesterday.’ I was gone for three months.” Rahman’s style is fusion and eclectic with a strong Indian, Western, and Tamil identity, but will borrow interesting sounds from anywhere. He is a master at mixing live and sampled sounds, rock and pop grooves, and interesting vocal sounds and timbres (see Sarrazin et al., 2013). He is best known for his instrumental layering, and while he includes vocals and vocal harmonies, vocals are balanced in his songs, with one voice never overshadowing another. Respect is given to the full and dense instrumentation. Although his songs are overflowing with an abundance of sonorities, Rahman never loses sight of melody, and retains a strong melodically oriented approach to composition, in keeping with the great Bollywood composers of the Golden Age. In a conversation with Nasreen Kabir regarding Rahman’s sonic layering, Rahman states: You can go for a pure image, a literal image. […] Or you can add different textures to that image. This is true of most art forms…I come from the old school in a way. I love melody, but pure melody doesn’t work for musical tastes today. Of course you can just pick up a guitar or sit at a piano and sing a song…. But there’s also a way of creating a palette of sounds without compromising on the core melody. You want people to relate to melody and when you have a great melody and a sweeping harmony, you can help to hold attention by adding a driving rhythm. The rhythm is there for listeners who get restless and don’t necessarily enjoy pure melody. As melody and harmony are everything in my work, I need to add texture through instrumentation and a variety of sounds. People think in multiple layers and we all have to multitask…When you layer a song, you can fully occupy the listener’s mind. When there are many musical elements on the track, it’s a way of seducing them:  “Don’t listen to anything else…this is it.” (Kabir 2011, 82–​83) His melodies are sustained not only by chords, but also by complex layers of polyphony, including call and response, descants, ostinatos, drones, and complex harmonies, sometimes occurring all at once. His harmonies, however, are highly focused on the goal –​ a perfectly composed, balanced, intricate piece of music. Melodies don’t work without lyrics, and as Rahman is not a poet, he must work with writers. “Sometimes Gulzar-​sahib or Javed-​sahib will give me just a title. Other times, they want the tune first, then they’ll give the lyrics.”4

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Some of Rahman’s best songs, as mentioned earlier, are Sufi-​inspired, such as “Kun Fiya Kun” from RockStar, 2011, “Piya Haji Ali” from Fiza, 2003, “Chhaiyya, Chhaiyya” from Dil Se, 1997 (which was based on a Sufi song from Bulleh Shah, originally sung by Sufi singer Abida Parveen), and “Zikr” from the 2004 film Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero. Rahman also composed the ambitious Vande Mataram (1997) project, which is the biggest selling non-​film album in India. Written for the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence, Rahman took the great national song “Vande Mataram,” Sanskrit for “We Bow to You, Mother,” and reworked it as “Maa Tujhe Salaam,” which is Urdu for the same sentiment.5 The Sufi song “Khwaja mere Khwaja” from Jodhaa Akbar (2008) is an example of his Sufi film songs. The number, represents a spiritual transformation of Emperor Akbar into Sufi mysticism, on his wedding night. The song is sung by Rahman himself. Note that in the video, we see several dervishes lip syncing, but all are of Rahman’s voice.6 Opening:   Khwaja jī O Lord         Ya Gharib Nawaz O benefactor of the poor and needy         Ya Moinuddin O assister of the faith and religion         Ya Khawaja jī, O Lord.         Khwaja Mere Khwaja, Dil Mein Samaa Ja         Oh my Lord! Come and reside in my heart         Shaahon Ka Shah Tu, Ali Ka Dulara         You are the king of kings, You are the God’s beloved one         Khwaja Mere Khwaja, Dil Mein Samaa Ja         Oh my Lord! Come and reside in my heart         Shaahon Ka Shah Tu, Ali Ka Dulara         You are the king of kings, You are the God’s beloved one         Khwaja Mere Khwaja, Dil Mein Samaa Ja         Oh my Lord! Come and reside in my heart (“Khwaja Mere Khwaja.” Lyrics: Kashif, excerpt)7 The song is considered a qawwali and its lyrics are in praise song of a saint, in this case, the founder of Sufism in India, Moinuddin Chisti (see Chapter 1). This type of song is known as a manqabat, which cites the many virtues of the saint. As with many religions, more than one name is used when referring to a revered and holy person. Chisti has several names here, including Gharib Nawaz (“Benefactor of the Poor”), Moinuddin refers to “Assister of the Religion,” while Khwaja itself is a term for master. Repetition of the name “Khwaja” is an intrinsic part of the song and Sufi culture, as the idea is to be transported into a spiritual world through chant and repetition. The song opens with a harmonium accompanying the slow, unmetered introduction. The harmonium is an anachronistic instrument here, as are most of the others, in that they would not have been present during Akbar’s dynasty. Nevertheless, the harmonium is doing what harmoniums in the present day should do –​accompanying the melody and creating a drone, albeit with a few pitch changes that directly invoke functional harmony (see Figure 7.1).

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Figure 7.1  Drone intimating functional harmony and melodic outline

Figure 7.2  “Khwaja” piano and bass accompaniment

Figure 7.3  Double harmonic scale, or Raga Bhairav

An R&B groove introduces the verse through guitar, piano, and bass –​a groove that divides 4/​4 meter into groups of a 3, 3, 2 eighth note feel (see Figure 7.2), with hand clapping emphasizing the accented beats, as does the guitar strumming. After a few minutes the tabla enters, giving the song a sense of urgency. The tabla brings in a gentle flow of beat rather than emphasizing the above rhythmic line, moving in steady eighth notes. One of the interludes utilizes a double harmonic scale with two augmented seconds, which is found Raga Bhairav, and is also known as the Arabic scale, connoting an exotic, generic Arabic sound. See Figure 7.3. The overall effect of the song is to provide the listener with both the familiarity of popular sounds, rhythms, instruments (R&B bassline, piano, guitar), with contemporary qawwali performance practice and instrumentation (slow, unmetered introduction, hand clapping, tabla, group call and response), none of which would be accurate for the year of the film’s setting or the genre of Whirling Dervish music from the Ottoman Empire that is depicted. The costumes and instruments picturized (kemenche, tanbur, and daf, a handheld drum) help to persuade the viewer that what they are hearing is somewhat authentic, even though this is not the case. The double harmonic scale brings in a touch of exoticism –​interestingly, because it is part of the Indian soundscape. Rahman references it in such a way as to render it foreign to the listener’s ears.

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KM MUSIC CONSERVATORY Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory, Chennai, was founded in 2008 by the Rahman Foundation, and is part of the KM College of Music and Technology. The Conservatory offers degrees in Western and Indian classical music and technology in partnership with Middlesex University in the UK. The “KM” stands for Khalishah Mastan, a 16th-​century Sufi saint, while Rahman’s AM Studios are named after Arifullah Malik, Rahman’s current Sufi guru (Mathai 2009, 150). This case study has offered a glimpse into the transnational music of Rahman, in which the groove is familiar to listeners of any contemporary music, with enough of a touch of authenticity to make it work. Drones with harmonic function, Raga Bhairav as double harmonic, and a catchy R&B riff punctuated with hand clapping, show how Rahman’s ability to speak two musical languages works to his advantage.

Folk on the Road: The Raghu Dixit Project, Bangalore Folk-​Rock Background Raghu Dixit is a jocular, charismatic musician who fills the stage with his personality and voice. He performs at mega concerts wearing a traditional lungi wrap around his waist and a T-​shirt. Some of his band members follow suit. Raghu is a master of fusion, who tours the world with his current group, the Raghu Dixit Project (TRDP). He composes all the songs for the band and writes film music as well. Dixit was born in Mysore, Kannada in South India, but moved to Bengaluru (Bangalore) where he now keeps his home base. His first band (1998–​2004) was Antaragni (Sanskrit for “The Fire Within”), a Bangalore fusion band that worked to blend Indian classical, rock, pop, folk, and country. While some band members have had some private instruction on their instrument, Raghu is a self-​taught musician who performs basic chords on the guitar. Despite being a master of fusion, according to Rolling Stone India, he is not a guitar virtuoso. I spoke with Gaurav Vaz, a bass player for the band who has also managed the band for over 11  years, and was with Raghu from the beginning. Gaurav was at university studying engineering, and had a band of his own called Phenom that did quite well. Gaurav and Raghu met when Raghu’s band was performing at Gaurav’s college, and Gaurav’s college band was opening for it. Raghu saw him play and asked him to join him. Big Break Raghu likes to tell his “big break” story from the stages of his concerts, intertwined with his songs. His moment almost didn’t happen, he recounts: he was gigging for years in small clubs, and had decided to play one more gig in a Mumbai club when he was discovered. A record label was created just for him. He didn’t even have a band at that point, just a group of musicians he could play with when he needed to –​more like a collective.

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Figure 7.4  Raghu Dixit Source: CC-​by-​sa PlaneMad/​Wikimedia, https://​​wiki/​File:Raghu_​Dixit_​in_​ concert,_​IISC.jpg

Raghu’s first big break was when he was still with Antaragni and was selected to play for Bryan Adams, who was on tour in India. As Gaurav explains, at that time in India, musicians did not get headliner current tours from outside. They had what they called the ‘graveyard tours,’ which were bands that came over that were on their way to the graveyard e.g. Roger Waters, Sting, Deep Purple, no one who was currently popular, just 1970s and 1980s rockers. Bryan Adams was the one of the largest acts performing in India. It was the first time in Bangalore that people could see a big rock artist, big stage, huge sound system. Bryan Adams came to Bangalore in 2003, and wanted to play with an Indian band, and Raghu’s band was selected. At this point, Raghu put together a full line-​up of musicians, hiring Gaurav Vaz on bass and a drummer. The Bryan Adams concert had about fifteen to twenty thousand people  –​an astounding crowd size. Raghu’s group played their set and included one song that was an Indian classical music cover of “Hotel California.” According to Gaurav, this song did not go over well with a certain segment of the crowd who had different expectations of this type of concert. This fusion arrangement, however, was very much in keeping with Raghu’s style. By the end of 2006, Raghu was looking to start a new band, but according to Gaurav, he didn’t want it to be regular: he wanted to come up with a more freelance group of people that would just play as needed. This led to the formation of TRDP, of which Raghu is founder and front man. Gaurav joined and stayed until 2017, managing and playing for the band. By the time Metallica and Prodigy came in 2011, the scene had changed drastically. Aesthetic The genre of music that Raghu Dixit performs is a compilation of Indian folk musics plus rock, country, etc. Initially, Raghu started off writing songs in English, but

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switched to Hindi and then Kannada after receiving feedback from people. When Raghu conceptualizes a song, he has no intention to create it in any specific genre, but is influenced by the musicians in his band, some of whom were trained in Indian classical and some in Western classical music. Before forming TRDP, for example, Raghu reformed his Antaragni group as a three-​piece ensemble of two violinists (one Western classical and one Indian classical), with Raghu on guitar. “This was the lineup for the first couple of years, with Raghu playing a drone, similar to a tanpura on the guitar. The violins would play layers of melody, and Raghu would keep the drone going and the chorus with the guitar” (Gaurav). The band took off after 2008 making money and gigging around India in the larger cities. Guarav reports: We started out practicing, playing in churches, for community associations, family gatherings, or just accompanying singers by playing chords. With the internet and broadband taking off, two things happened:  We won the young music entrepreneur award on the now defunct Radio Verve. This was before Spotify and before iTunes and before streaming, when only Pandora would stream. No radio station would play the music, so I started streaming on the internet.We had 3,500 internet listeners a day, streaming from the house. Gaurav would sit and introduce each song. “You would hear mom in the background while I was streaming.” He attributes this project to why he won the entrepreneur award, which came with a tour to the UK to learn about the music industry. Compositional Style TRDP had four musicians when it started –​percussion (drum, tabla), electric bass, an Indian melodic instrument (flute or violin), and Raghu playing the acoustic guitar. He would use a tanpura for pitch reference and played the guitar like a drone, letting the musicians embellish around it. According to Gaurav, “Raghu knows how to play the chords but is not a skilled guitarist in his own right.” As for his compositional style, Raghu takes the lead on all compositions and arrangements and “drives the artistic vision, but each musician can bring out their own thing, but overall it’s directed by him. Sometimes the compositions are not planned, but the songs arrange themselves.” The process starts with a melody as the basic structure. Much like classical music, Raghu explores the melody and then selects the best groove or rhythm for the best fit for that rhythm. From there he imagines the arrangement. “The melody remains strong,” says Gaurav. “You’ll hum the song immediately, then don’t know the lyrics so you’ll forget it.” TRDP’s album Jag Changa (2013) is widely acclaimed. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the album ranges from “cinematic anthems to wistful ghazal-​flavored ballas to devotional rock.” The song “Parasiva” from the album is in Kannada, with lyrics that refer to Lord Shiva in an essence that is without form or attributes  –​in other words, beyond human knowing. The lyrics mention the ability to see Parasiva due to benevolent beings who help us throughout our daily lives. One of Raghu’s biggest hits on the road is “Lokada Kalaji,” for which he encourages audience participation during concerts. This song embodies a positive vibe and strikes one as the Indian equivalent of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The

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sentiment is underscored by the peppy melody, upbeat tempo, and infectious background arrangement. Refrain O… Lokada kalaji madatheenanti O…you say you want to worry about the world Ningyaar byadantara madappa chinti Who would tell you not to; Go on then, worry away Nee maadodu ghaligi santi What you are doing is good for nothing Melu maalagi kattabekanti You say you want to build in the sky aane ambari yerabekanti And climb on the elephant’s back mannalli iliyooda thannaga marati But you forgot to get down in the soil too easily Refrain Baduku baalevu nande anti Life and living is yours you say nidhi seridashtu saaladu anti How ever rich you become, you say it isn’t enough-​ Kadava teredu kade yaathrege nadevaaga vadagadu yavadu summane alati On your final journey you won’t have anything yet you keep crying Refrain Neleyu Govindana paadadolaiti The ground is at the feet of Govinda (God) Alakondu hudukidirinnellaiti You won’t find it. Even if you cry searching for it Shishunaaladheeshana dayeyolagaiti It’s in the shishula’s mercy rasikanu haadida kaviteyolaiti It’s also in the poems sung by the Connoisseur Refrain

(“Lokada Kalaji”)

The lyrics are composed by Shishunala Sharif (1819–​1889), a saint poet and social reformer, and Karnataka’s first Muslim poet. In traditional fashion, the poet’s name is included in the last stanza: “It’s in the shishula’s mercy.” Raghu Dixit has used several of Sharif ’s poems in his songs. In true fusion treatment, this song brings in instrumentation, styles, and riffs from several sources. The opening solo electric guitar strains are reminiscent of Afro-​pop, ska, and even reggae. A  West African djembe or Arabic doumbek joins in, followed by a Hammerclaw banjo, trumpet, saxophone, bass, drums,

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Figure 7.5  “Lokada Kalaji” (opening bass riff punctuated by Afro-​pop style electric guitar)

and the percussion is programmed by Raghu as well. Both the bass riff and the melody are punctuated by the electric guitar in very typical Afro-​pop style, commenting with pitches or chords indicated in brackets (see notation). In addition to composing for TRDP, Raghu also composes film music. As someone who composes for both the independent music scene and film, he has a unique perspective on both worlds, and sees the overarching changes that are happening. Independent bands used to have a highly antagonistic relationship with Bollywood, given the dominance of the industry and the market share it occupied. In the past decade or so, this dilemma is subsiding, as the film industry decentralizes and the synergy between film and independent music is intensifying. According to Raghu Dixit, “Films are all independent now. For the past few years, there’s different music director for each song. Bollywood is coming to the independent musicians which is different from earlier.”8 Regardless of how musicians feel about it, however, the truth is that the film industry can make a song, and band, a hit. Raghu notes that from his personal experience, composing for films is both good and bad. He composed the music for the 2017 film Chef, which he thought would launch his music directing career: I thought the film Chef would make me a star. I put my heart and soul into it. The film bombed in three days and was pulled from theatres. But I have a newer film that’s doing better. Then one hit song could make a film but if the film flops, no one hears that song. My new film released just yesterday on July 15 and it’s going to be a big hit. South Indian. The film is Koode, and the hit song is “Paranne.”9 Raghu was one of three composers for the Anjali Menon film, and indeed the song did very well, with almost 5 million YouTube views as of the end of 2018. What makes the song work is a strong Malayalam linguistic component, and its highly energetic tempo, guitar and banjo, in combination with the hit movie.

Thermal and a Quarter (Bangalore Rock) Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ) is one the oldest and most renowned bands of Bengaluru. Bengaluru is known locally as India’s “Silicon Valley” and TAAQ’s audience is comprised of the cosmopolitanism of the city, plus its small-​town sensibility. TAAQ is lauded for its contributions to the Indian rock scene, excellent musicianship, lack of specific genre, and touring the world at major festivals for over two decades. Their current line-​up consists of Bruce Lee Mani on guitars and vocals, Rajeev Rajagopal on drums, and Prakash KN on bass.

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Background Band members Bruce Lee Mani and Rajeev Rajagopal met as students in Christ College in 1996, with all of the band members studying non-​music subjects such as journalism, psychology, English literature, or business. They began as just a group that performed in intercollegiate music competitions, similar to other college-​based bands. They did not become serious until St. John’s Medical College hosted a “semi-​professional” competition, which allowed student bands to bring in one musician from outside the college. They invited a friend named Ajit and won the competition. Although Ajit didn’t remain in the group, his presence was responsible for the group’s existence. As Rajeev recalls: All India Radio had some type of live competition, and so the college picked a bunch of musicians. This was before we started the band. We were working on fusions between Carnatic and Western instrumental music. Bruce was into Dave Brubeck, odd time signatures, and reworked versions of Take 5 with the mridangam and tabla. As a college band, we were doing alt-​rock, prog rock, Dream Theater, Rush, Police, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and writing our own stuff. We did very few covers. Every set it was mandatory that 50% of it be our own material, and only at party gigs would we do covers. The band is very focused on identity in several ways. First, the band’s name Thermal and a Half, encapsulates all of the ethnicities of the band members  –​three of the members are Malayali, and one is a quarter Malayali. The band was originally named Three Mals and a Quarter, which merged to become Thermal and a Quarter. Second, they see their music as Bangaluru-inspired and -​based. Although Bruce situates himself as being part of India’s global generation that is rootless –​not really at hom either in or outside of India –​TAAQ makes music that is very much India based. The band also reflects a peculiar affinity with Western ideals, which he believes his generation shares. During the band’s early years in the mid-​1990s, there were no formal music schools to attend for lessons, so all of the band members are self-​taught, or learned informally from others. There was no internet, no YouTube, and few resources if one wanted to learn. The band focused on original music when covers were still popular, and were quick to make use of streaming technology and the internet to promote their music. They’re the first band in India to put their work in a Creative Commons license, according to Bruce. Big Break Just like Raghu Dixit in 2003, TAAQ was selected to open for a major touring rock groups from US and UK. In 2001, TAAQ opened for Deep Purple when they came to Bangalore. By 2006, they were tapped to open for Jethro Tull, and then Guns N’ Roses in 2012. In 2002, they released what they believe to be India’s first concept album, Jupiter Café, about life in Bangalore, and in 2004, their album Plan B was the first in India to be distributed entirely via the internet. Mani then won Rolling Stone magazine’s Jack Daniels Guitarist of the year twice, in 2009 and 2012, and Leon Ireland Vocalist of the Year.

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Figure 7.6  Thermal and a Quarter Source: Pic by Siddharth Gautam

On their first tour outside India in 2006, according to Bruce, they were told by peers in India that they would be laughed offstage in the UK because they were doing the same thing that thousands of bands outside India were doing. The band was concerned that this might actually be true and had a moment of self-​doubt. They were playing the same music as other bands, so what was it that was different about them as an Indian band? But when they arrived at their first venue in a Glasgow bar, they found the audience was very encouraging. Their music was rock but had some South Indian rhythm and masala to it. As they toured, they found their audiences were not majority Indian, and that they seldom played to Indian audiences on tour. This is unusual, in that most Indian bands have large Indian audiences. One of the reasons for the high non-​Indian crowd might be that they perform in English, which affords them a broader reach abroad and in India. Since then, they’ve performed at the Mosaic Festival and Java Jazz, and in Hong Kong, the Maldives, Dubai, Bahrain, Europe, the US, and the big festivals in India such as NH7. Their audience consists of fans they made in their early years. Bruce notes that their aging fans keep following them. Compositional Style Vocalist and guitarist Bruce Mani does most of the music writing for the group, but after some creative thinking, turns it over for a collaborative perspective. He doesn’t like to think of himself as having too many rules for composing –​opting for a more organic process –​but he usually begins with the lyrics. After some or all of the lyrics are written, the melody and basic chords follow and then the song is presented to the band for their contribution. The band then offers accompaniment suggestions through jam sessions or concentrated writing. Occasionally, when the creative urge strikes him, Mani will sit down and write vociferously every day or every week, coming up with many songs.

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Regarding the compositional process Rajeev notes: We have so many songs, difficult to say how we start. Some songs start with melody, some with rhythm, but a big percentage comes out of guitar hooks or guitar riffs and small guitar parts that end up becoming choruses and verses. Bruce is more comfortable letting the guitar do the talking, but through the process the vocal melody could dominate. Mani believes songs have a life of their own. Some are stored away and “tinkered” with over time, while others are written quickly. When asked if they study composition, Bruce and Rajeev responded that they just “hash stuff out” without any formal composition study. Aesthetic The band’s goal is to enable their listeners to get something out of their songs the first time they listen as well as the fiftieth time, by making them deep, lyrically and in composition and structure. “Very few songs are simple. They’re mostly driven by lyrics and what it’s trying to communicate… we’re instrumentalists first, and songwriting that is a layer that sits on top of it.” Like most bands in India, they don’t have formal compositional training, so they don’t always know the approach to certain songs. They often wonder how they even compose what they compose. “Thinking about our own music, we wonder how we ever wrote that stuff. It’s really organic. We never knew anything about time signatures, never knew I was playing in that odd time signature. Something clicks when we jam together. We’ve not analyzed it or planned it.” The band’s aesthetic is Western in its instrumentation but remains Indian in its worldview and song topics. The band’s influences include Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, the Beatles, Steely Dan, Dream Theater, and many others. Although tracing the roots of all of the band’s influences is difficult, its progressive, jazz, funk style is easily discernible. “Music coming out of India is loosely rock, but is informed by so many local influences. Sounds, words, textures coming in. It’s a chameleon. It’s hard to pin down,” says Mani. Identity is at the forefront of TAAQ from its name to the languages. They all sing, speak, and think in English. Mani notes: We’ve named our sound Bangalore rock. We grew up in city and the city informs the music. We’ve struggled with long-​winded terms to describe our music Metal Math, pop jazz, blues, funk, but we’ve distilled it down to Bangalore Rock. If you can have Chicago blues or New Orleans Jazz, you can have Bangalore Rock. Mani specifically draws the distinction between being able to converse in languages such as Tamil, and being able to create and be creative in a language. English is the language that he feels comfortable composing and writing in. Educated in convent schools, the band members speak multiple regional languages, but think in English:  “English informs our thought, but at its core we’re Indian.” While it’s difficult to categorize the essence of a band, particularly this one that defies niche labels, two songs that I will discuss are “Paper Puli,” and “Meter Mele One and a

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Half.” “Puli” is Tamil for tiger, so paper puli is a paper tiger, and the song is a critique of rock journalists who are, like a paper tiger, threatening but ineffective. The song opens with a Frank Zappa quote spoken by Bruce Lee: “Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read,” a statement that Zappa made during an interview with the Toronto Star. The band members had an unsatisfying interview with a reporter; the song was a response to that encounter, and encapsulates a symbiotic quid pro quo relationship between a band and music journalist. Just met this funny man From the funny papers Is there any other kind Said he hadn’t heard much About my rock n’ roll band Sure hoped he had a story in mind He seemed indolent and carefree Lit up a cigarette offhandedly And then he asked me if I wanted Some good publicity Hey Aren’t we just All in the same game You need a rag to write for And I need one to shine up my guitar But tell me do I really have To talk to you The name in bright lights Do you really want my picture As you can see I look really cool Do you want me smiling Or the three-​quarter profile We’ve got to make this proof for the fool Got to have that aura of mystery Keep them guessing indefinitely And when I drive into that wall You can say it was such a pity Hey Aren’t we just All in the same game You need a sneaky angle I need to fill that monthly rectangle But tell me do I really have To talk to you (“Paper Puli,” “Paper Tiger”)

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Figure 7.7  Opening funk vocal and electric guitar riff in “Paper Puli”

Figure 7.8  Descending chromatic 3rds

Figure 7.9  Fully realized diminished 7th chords

“Paper Puli” begins with an energetic funk riff, with Bruce scat singing along with the electric guitar on the repeat (see Figure  7.7). The melody in Bruce’s voice resonates with shades of Kurt Cobain and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lead Anthony Kiedis, and Dave Matthews as he reaches for bluesy turns. The vocal harmonies are jazz, and the chromatic thirds on “Good Publicity” (Figure 7.8) recall the chromatic 7ths as the dominant sonority (see Figure 7.9). Their sound and lyrics are urban-​based, with songs about life in Bangalore, about distinctly Indian perspectives. The song “Meter Mele One and a Half ” from the album 3 Wheels 9 Lives, for example, is an account of a rickshaw ride, particularly referencing the often rigged meters in the autorickshaw that increase the fare 1.5 times the regular amount, overcharging the customer: Three wheels, nine lives Ready meals, day by day I put my hand out, no need to shout I’m going green and public today Finding all the gaps in this black-​and-​yellow trap With city-​breath blowing in my hair Don’t fire me I’m late, blame it on my fate This life, this life is so unfair Still got to pay the auto fare Money to burn at a shallow soiree Got to get the old wheels out of the covers tonight But the plugs are shot, and all I’ve got Is just one chance with her to make it right

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Called a no-​show cabbie, just made me crabby All dressed up and nobody cares She didn’t bring it on, with my three-​wheeler con This life, this life is so unfair Still got to pay the auto fare Meter Mele One-​and-​a-​Half! So here I am, lost and alone In a shortcut, roach-​bitten cabriolet Dead air on the cell, this is a party, a party from hell So I tell the man “stop, and ask for the way” Three or four gents, kindly souls all Get their hands on the vehicle and put on a scare I was relieved, my cards and cash called, This life, this life is so unfair Still got to pay the auto fare (“Meter Mele One-​and-​a-​Half ”) The ubiquitous existence of the auto-​rickshaw is mentioned here, as are the difficulties with the trip. Many rickshaws are quite nice inside while others may be less so, and while most drivers know the way to your destination they sometimes get lost, wasting time and meter money, and the experience of asking random people for directions in India is frequent and very interesting. Also, the dangers of city life are explored as the character in the song is robbed in the rickshaw. Musically, the song is just as disorienting as the rickshaw ride. With a strong funk sensibility, and highly syncopated rhythms, the song utilizes a cross between an A mixolydian mode and bi-​tonality by hovering around and tonicizing two main pillars of 7th chords, A7 and D7. The song weaves in and out of modes, playing with major, minor and diminished chords that keeps the listener off-​center. Often, the chords are missing either the 3rd or the 5th note, such as a D7 vocal harmony using C, D, and F# but no A, or the guitar chords playing an A7 chord with no 3rd (missing C or C#) resolving to D Major in second position, which emphasizes the 5th of the D chord in the bass, but destabilizes it. For the instrumental improvisation section, the song moves to a Bb, and back again to the mixolydian sound.

Figure 7.10  Vocal riff and bass riff, “Meter Mele”

Figure 7.11  Vocal harmonies in 7ths

224  •  Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today

In terms of jamming in concert, “Paper Puli” provides a great deal of scope for improvisation. The band has taken this song on the road and worked with it for years. In “Meter Mele,” however, there’s not a lot of room for improvisation due to the extensive intricate interplay that specifically locks in. According to Rajeev, “Bruce performs a solo with a fixed number of cycles which doesn’t change, since we have to get from the outro back into the chorus. He’ll also do different solos depending on what he’s feeling, about the day, about the audience, and how we’re feeling. Only at the end, I can let loose over the complex rhythmic pattern, 2–​3 cycles of a drum. It’s fixed though, and not too long. We can’t open up and do what we want with it –​it’s pretty structured and fixed. It needs to bounce live for it to happen. If we’re not tight or the tempo isn’t correct, it doesn’t do justice to the song. Bruce notes that the lyrics and story are silly. “The guy loses job, loses his girlfriend, then is mugged.” The song’s complex meter refers back to the rickshaw’s complicated math. “Mele has extremely complex math. The meter says one and a half, half more than the meter is showing. The song goes through various meters and is complicated also.” Their thoughts on the industry include Indian film music. As Bruce states, Indian film dominates the entire pop music identity. Since 22 years, there’s been quite a bit of evolution. There are way more bands playing their own music. Now it’s easier to record and release music, there’s music education, we can get gear we want –​can buy world class equipment, we can go in to any venue in Shillong or Calcutta can have great equipment and audiences. We only earn a fraction as independent musicians from what people in Bollywood make. Non-​ mainstream musicians all over the world are the same. They’re doing a bunch of things to make ends meet.

TAAQADEMY The Taaqademy School is not Thermal and a Quarter’s only contribution to the world, but an endeavor to train what they call the “serious hobbyist” in music. The name is a play on both “TAAQ ACADEMY” and “taakademi,” which is one of the rhythmic mnemonics in Indian classical music and dance. Bruce defines “serious hobbyist” as the person who is going to be less than a career professional, but more than an amateur. TAAQ run the music school but still have time to be musicians. They have 500 students at four campuses, aged 6–​78, and they also work in schools with underprivileged kids by bringing in organized music instruction. Their goal is to continue to work with and jam and help others make music. Part of the difficulty in teaching music to students in India, as Bruce explains, is the impact of the Indian film industry: Through the school when we’re presenting to people without music education, we show that it takes quite a bit to play music. People don’t

Modern Music Guru-s  •  225

understand this. In the film experience, people appear –​people sing and music happens. It takes years of study and dedication, which is alien to older Indian experience. Interestingly, having the school open has made an impact on the lives of the musicians in the band. Rajeev states that “once we opened the school, I’ve gotten more academic. I’ve completed Grade 8 in Rock School and Grade 8 Trinity Guildhall and am doing the (Fellow of Trinity College London) and ATCL (Associate of Trinity College London) diploma certificates.” Prior, he had taught himself, and studied videos and other people to learn how to play.

The Local Train The Local Train is listed as the one of the five most iconic Hindi rock bands by Whatshot in Delhi,10 and was one of the names on everyone’s lips in the scene as the next big up-​and-​coming band to watch. In the summer of 2018, I met two members of the Delhi-​based Hindi rock band, and later interviewed all four members of the band, Ramit Mehra (bass guitar, backing vocals), Raman Negi (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Sahil Sarin (drums and percussion), and Paras Thakur (lead guitar and backing vocals). Background The band members are all from a Chandigarh, an interesting city in that it is the capital of two states –​Punjab and Haryana. Chandigarh is known for its large Punjabi population and vibe as well as its bhangra music, although there are many musicians in all genres. The band members of The Local Train, however, do not identify with the city or Punjabi culture in any substantial way, and certainly not in the way that members of other bands do. “We don’t position ourselves with Chandigarh or with Delhi either. We’re Punjabi by ethnicity, but we don’t care.” Much the same as other bands, they had no formal training. Ramit says, When we started learning our instruments, there was no available internet. We had books, the community, ears, and older people playing who gave us hand-​me down information. The internet came later. We’re all self-​taught people that had to figure it out –​everything on stage and on the fly. Also, our audiences didn’t know jack shit. Most audiences didn’t know the difference between bass and electric guitar. There have been bands forever, but no one cares. The Local Band’s audience is on the young side, with about 70% of their audience between 18 and 27 years of age, with the remainder over 30. “We’re an internet band, YouTube is the mainstream media. We have an internet audience. Most of our publicity happens through word of mouth.” Their ticket prices are low, which allows the young age group to afford their shows, ranging between $8 and $15 for a regular venue or about $40 if they play the Hard Rock Cafe.

226  •  Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today

Figure 7.12  The Local Train Source: Harshvir Oberai

They started playing rock for its simplicity, and because it was exactly the music they liked. The band, like the other band members, picked up their instruments in school –​in college. Rock appealed to them because it was wholesome and because of the image it projected: “I could wear jeans, play my guitar. It was informal and I had freedom.” The band sings in Hindi-​Urdu, and is known for its honest, straightforward lyrics and tone. They recognize the privilege that some associate with being in a band: “Bands are exclusive of the middle class, something like clubs. We have no background in classical music, and we don’t care. Classical stopped becoming popular in pop culture, it wasn’t easy to grasp and people aren’t invested in that.” Big Break The Local Train began on the college circuit performing covers from artists such as A. R. Rahman. In 2015, they released their first album, Aalas ka Pedh. Their song “Aaoge tum Kabhi” (“When Will You Come?”) from their first album is on the “pop” side, according to band members. Nevertheless, it was a smash hit and one of the highest selling independent albums of the year, and one of the most streamed, giving them millions of views on their YouTube page. The song is a straightforward pop-​rock love song, and has an internet presence on tabs.ultimate-​ Meri jaa keh rahi My life is saying gayega ya sama All will sing gayegi ye zameen

Modern Music Guru-s  •  227

Land will sing badlega ye jahan this world will change gayega asmaan The sky will sing aaoge tum kabhi when will you come (“Aaoge tum Kabhi,” excerpt) Within two years (in 2017 and 2018), they were playing for packed crowds at the NH7 Weekender, with their second album Vaaqif recently released. The Local Train is number 5 on Apple music, and big on YouTube. On tour, they draw crowds upwards of 1,000 people in the big cities and are playing in larger venues in India and with top musicians such as with Deep Purple’s Joe Satriani. The Local Train is doing well in terms of commercial success but has very critical views of the independent band infrastructure. The current independent music scene in India, they believe, is not in good shape. Live venues are shutting down in all three big cities: both small venues and huge ones hosting 1,000 people: “Only a few bands can fill those venues, which are reducing in number and are only now for Bollywood live cover bands. The scene is very niche –​more like a house party.” The genre blurring is also changing the way music is understood: There aren’t genres anymore. There’s genre blurring and song amalgamation, but a good song is a good song. Rock isn’t quite dead, but it did not evolve. They’re doing the same thing that they did years ago. Pop and hip-​hop evolved. Streaming, phone-​based apps, and –​there’s a huge jump in technology, bringing a lot of people to the streaming platform, but not when it comes to live shows.11 Aesthetic The band’s musical inspiration comes from Indian groups such as Indian Ocean, Lucky Ali, Euphoria, Junoon, Rabbi Shergill, Raghu Dixit, and A. R. Rahman, plus alt-​rock groups Nirvana, hard rock like Aerosmith, and many others. Although they are a quintessential rock band, the band members come from different backgrounds from jazz, pop, and rock. Their band is guitar-​based rock and roll, but in Hindi-​Urdu, and heavily influenced by late 1990s and early 2000s alternative rock such as Nirvana. The lead singer Raman’s vocal timbre is very much reminiscent of Rahman, especially on the high notes. The Local Train’s music is based in standard tonality, with vocal harmonies in thirds and a basic rock beat that blends and builds towards an explosive refrain. They’ve never discussed what language they will sing in but find Hindi more comfortable and accessible for them. Ramit believes that in the end “language doesn’t really matter so much –​it’s about what you’re saying in the language that counts.”

228  •  Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today

Their second album, Vaaqif, is much more political, including a critical look at the effects of communalism in India, as well as looking at other more personal and introspective social issues.12 Both albums are different: The second album is about “being aware” of the times that we live in. There are honest lyrics about non-​believers, living in cities, living in a world that is falling apart. It’s our personal opinion on current society, from a person living in society, and feeling its helplessness. Their “big hook big chorus” style is very evident in the title track “Vaaqif,” with a chorus that makes use of a break right before it enters. The song “Vaaqif ” opens with verse 1 over just a hi-​hat and light, sparse guitar melody in octaves. A quick break is filled with a slight crescendo sliding into the second half of the verse, with backing vocals harmonizing below the melody at intervals and then octaves. The drum and a second guitar kick here in with a rhythmic riff above a repeated drone on the guitar with a quick turnaround riff at the end of each line. This rhythmic pulse is fast and insistent, and ends with a sudden break. The silence is broken by a broad, slow augmenting of the tempo with heavy power chords at the beginning of each measure and beats in each measure on 1 and 3, heavy power chords also slow the rhythmic tempo down, and the hard-​hitting refrain hits its highest notes in the melody as well. Verse 1 Usoolo ki jo thi duniya ab hai kaha bolo? Where is the era of principle now? Baate kitaabi jo suni hume na yakeen dekho We do not believe the things written in books Guftagoo is majhabi par ab mujhko gumaan Or in the pride of religious talk Hu vaaqif na hu naadan koi na fikre jahaan I am aware, I am not a naive, I do not care of this world Break Refrain Kyu namanzoor o huzoor kirdaar hai yaha is kahaani ka? O master, why not accept, he is a character in this story Naa magroor bekasoor hu Neither arrogant nor innocent I am Gunjati hai wo dil ki jubaan The voice in my heart hums Verse 2 Kehta koī thi roshni jaha it was that where light used to be Ab hai baki jalta aashiyaa now it is left burning Na samajh tujhko mubarak ye girta jahaan You naive ones, you enjoy this deteriorating world

Modern Music Guru-s  •  229

Figure 7.13  Opening riff, “Vaaqif”

Hai munasib hār anjaam vaaqif hu na nadaan Every outcome is possible, I know, I am not naive Break Refrain Ye manjar hai agar, pharyaad hai kaha Puchhu main yaha If this is the perspective, I ask where is the appeal O mehfooz belagaam armaano me Doobi begaraz udaan O my selfless soars, entrenched in preserved, uncontrolled desires Usoolo ki jo thi duniya ab hai kaha bolo? Where is the era of principle now? (“Vaaqif,” title track from Vaaqif).13 The Local Train is still relatively new to the scene and are just getting their footing. Their audiences are growing in number, and they believe that independent music is still relatively new to the country. They are not opposed to working in films, stating that many of the Indi-​pop musicians were able to do both, recording their own albums and doing film music. “Lucky Ali went to Bollywood, did his own thing, and there’s nothing wrong with going. Everything is respected if it’s performed well and if they’re doing good music.” The industry is changing and is now an “open playing field.” They fully believe in their talent and hope that good things are coming their way. “We don’t have a lot of investors yet and aren’t getting the attention we deserve, but it will.” The band just went on to perform at the coveted Bacardi NH7 Weekender and are doing very well.

Notes 1 View at https://​​watch?v=V9qmJ79YuCs 2 For background, see; https://​​article/​ar-​rahman-​may-​have-​been-​jamming​us-​night-​clubs-​had-​mani-​ratnam-​not-​discovered-​him-​59822 3 Personal communication, February 14, 2006 interview, Stanford University. 4 Ibid.

230  •  Focusing In: Youth and Music in India Today 5 The huge hit “Chaiyya, Chaiyya” was actually written for Vande Mataram, but not used. 6 View at https://​​watch?v=Pam8tXa6pkM 7 Lyrics by Kashif. 8 Interviewed July 14, 2018 in Sarawak, Borneo. 9 Ibid. 10 See https://​​delhi-​ncr/​these-​are-​the-​5-​most-​iconic-​hindi-​rock-​bands-​in-​the-​country-​ c-​7322 (not universally available). 11 Personal communication, December 12, 2018. 12 See https://​​living/​the-​local-​train-​on-​their-​second-​album-​vaaqif-​changing-​the-​ way-​hindi-​rock-​music-​is-​perceived-​4347333.html 13 Translation by Anand Dwivedi.

Bibliography Coventry, Chloe, L. 2013. Rock Bands/​Rock Brands:  Mediation and Musical Performance in Post-​ liberalization Bangalore. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Dissertation. Getter, Joseph and B. Balasubrahmaniyan. 2008. “Tamil Film Music: Sound and Significance.” In Global Soundtracks: Worlds of Film Music, edited by Mark Slobin, pp. 114–​151. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Kabir, Nasreen Munni. 2011. A. R.  Rahman:  The Spirit of Music, Noida, UP, India:  Om Books International, pp. 82–​83. Mathai, Kamini. 2009. A. R. Rahman: The Musical Storm. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Trilok, Krishna. 2018. Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of A. R. Rahman. Penguin Random House India. Suhasini, Lalitha. 2013. “Album Review: The Raghu Dixit Project’s Bold New Sound.” Rolling Stone India, December 6: http://​​album-​review-​raghu-​dixit-​projects-​bold-​new-​sound/​ Thermal and a Quarter. 2015. WFW/​DFD (45-​ minute film) https://​​watch? v=UQdjgb_​xlFM

List of Interviews A. R. Rahman, February 14, 2006 Raghu Dixit, July 14, 2018 Bruce Lee Mani, TAAQ December 18, 2018 Rajeev Rajagopalan, TAAQ, December 20, 2018 Ramit Mehra, Raman Negi, Paras Thakur, Sahil Sarin, The Local Train, December 12, 2018

Conclusion: Indian Popular Music into the Future

I think India is currently a beautiful ecosystem where multiple colours of music co-​exist. There is this constant experimentation going on as no one knows who the next A. R. Rahman, Zakir Hussain or Jagjit Singh would be. (Ritesh Khokhar, Director, Rockschool Ltd)1 Since the 2011 Jai Ho tour mentioned at the beginning of this book, which marked a high point in A. R. Rahman’s career, India has gone through many changes that have propeled its post-​liberalization trajectory, including a continued emphasis on a global economy and a more progressive social agenda. In 2014 the country elected Narendra Modi as prime minister on a BJP conservative platform, to increase foreign direct investment in India, for example, and reduce domestic spending on healthcare, etc. In terms of social issues, India is now rewriting its attitudes on gender and sexuality –​from the overturning of colonial-​era law section 377 in 2018, which decriminalized gay sex, and the overturning of the extramarital affair ban, which treated women as their husband’s property. The Indian film industry is undergoing its own revolution, as it incorporates more female producers, directors, and actresses who are demanding equal pay and major roles with character representations in keeping with contemporary constructs of gender and sexuality. Film subjects and songs are reflecting the daily life perspectives of women and gradually expressing sentiments outside the restrictive and highly heteronormative film song formula –​with the exception of the item number, which holds a particularly strong place in the Indian film hierarchy. The independent music scene, however, is quite robust. According to Ritesh: Popular music scene in India is more buzzing than ever today. There are a whole lot of independent artists across the country releasing their original 231

232  • Conclusion

music, building their following and trying to make a career in performing. They are starting to make their presence felt just by the number of artists in the performing circuit. The Bollywood-​Independent music power inequality is alive and well in terms of access, support, and struggle. In the independent music world, singers of all types are inspired to try and make it in the business, as they continue to grapple with a whole host of obstacles, both financial and social. Aditi Ramesh, for example, is a corporate lawyer-​ cum-​singer-​songwriter whose goal is to express daily life experiences from her own perspective in songs like “Marriageable Age,” among others. Her goal is to quit her “real job” one day and survive on her music. Then there is the local singer in Delhi who is in a band gaining traction but whose parents don’t want her traveling for fear of harm, and making the biggest decision in her life as to whether to quit the band. Ritesh believes that other obstacles include lack of band mentors and also a general lack of music education account for not being able to support a thriving independent music in India. The success of independent music is dependent on the quality of sound, according to Ritesh, which Bollywood music has plenty of: “there are two things constantly evolving in Bollywood music making –​quality of sound and arrangements. Independent music in the long run will influence the quality of music that is sold to the masses.” While it is impossible to know exactly where Indian popular music is heading, there are some very distinct clues. The two major streams of popular music  –​Indian film music and independent music  –​will continue to flourish, with independent music gaining increased popularity and market share. Non-​film artists are becoming increasingly popular, and Indian audiences are more comfortable with bands that create their own originals, and market themselves to success. The large music scenes and traction that bands are getting is a testament to that. How are Indian musicians adapting to the popular music scene? For answers to this question, I turn to Ritesh Khokhar, all-​India director for Rockschool India, Ltd. Ritesh has also been in the popular music business for decades as a musician, music entrepreneur, and champion of music education. According to Ritesh, one of the ways that musicians are adapting to the difficult-​to-​make-​it-​in-​music scene is to relinquish the idea of having “permanent members”: About 15 years back, we knew musicians by the band they played with, whereas today most musicians play with multiple bands for two reasons. First, they get to play a larger number of gigs (for smaller money) that allows them to make decent monthly income they can survive on. Second, they have better chances of becoming permanent with a big band, should any one of the bands they play with hit the jackpot. The bands in my early years had a clear genre of music they played, i.e. Pop, Rock, Metal, Jazz, etc. Today’s bands are ready to cater to multiple genres of music depending on what the client wants so they don’t lose the gig. Many bands do popular Bollywood with 10 to 30% of original music. Many rock bands write originals in local languages to seek better acceptance and following. With obstacles such as these, it is easy to question whether Indian film music will ever relinquish its title and hegemony in India. As of now, none of the musicians I’ve spoken

Conclusion  •  233

with in India believes that independent artists will overtake the popularity of film music, at least any time soon. Most musicians, such as Raghu Dixit and Ritesh Khokhar, see a parallel separate relationship or synergistic and cooperative working relationship rather than a threat: I don’t see Independent music taking over film music. They both have a place and space of their own and always will. Just the way things work in film music industry are so different, i.e. the professional demands, ability to make music to the given brief and yet be original, etc. are the very reasons why many choose to be independent music professionals. It takes a unique set of orientation and inspirations for artists to end up in film music industry or otherwise. What this audience will demand two decades from now, however is going to be very different than what is being fed to the masses in India today. Focus:  Popular Music in Contemporary India has explored many genres of popular music–​from jazz to film to metal –​carefully situating them within the social, cultural, historical, and political trends and contemporary issues facing modern India, including identity and globalization. Popular forms were traced from their roots in Indian classical music, through the impact of regional folk styles and global influences of world and Western music. The contemporary practice of popular musics have also been explored through the eyes of youth from school children to professional musicians. Throughout this journey, one thing is clear –​the entity that is Indian popular music is carved out of the experiences of the subcontinent and is uniquely Indian.

Note 1 Personal communication, February 19, 2019.


#MeToo Movement 102 “100 Years and Loud” 152 “1,000 Miles Away” 201 “1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” 79 21st Century Fox 192 3 Idiots 112, 127, 187, 201 3 Wheels 9 Lives 222 9X Jalwa 193 9XM 193 “Aali Re” 101 “Aaja Jara Mere Dil ke Sahare Dilruba” 197 Aalas ka Pedh 226 “Aao Bachchon Tumhe Dikhayein Jhaanki Hindustan ki” 100 “Aaoge Tum Kabhi” 207, 226–​7 “Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi” 86 Aaron, Sam and Ruby 182 Aasha 183 Aashiqui 182 Aashiqui 2 179, 181 “Aatma Rama” 90 “Aaye Ho Meri Zindagi Mein” 124 “Aaya Tere Dar Par” 185 Abandoned Agony 162 Abbas, Shemeem 184 Abbey, Leon 70 Abel, Roysten 57, 58

Aberrant 161 abhoga 47 Academy Awards 208 Accompaniment 127 Accordion 72, 114, 121 AC/​DC 162, 199 action films 98, 128 Adams, Brian 213 Adorno, Theodore 54 Advertising 123 “Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo” 100 Aesthetic x, xi, 1, 38, 55, 72, 105, 111, 113, 116, 126, 127, 128, 131, 136, 165, 170, 181, 185, 193, 194, 207, 208, 214–​15, 220, 227 Afghanistan 75 Afghans 10 Africa 97 Africa Meets India 82–​3 African American Jazz 70, 74, 113 Afro-​Pop 215, 217 Agarwal, Prashan 190 Agastya 44 Agni 161 Ahmad, Salman Dr. 185 AIDS 153; AIDS Control Society 53 Ajay-​Atul  125 akaar 42 Akhtar, Farhan 180


Index  •  235 Akhtar, Javed 156, 210 Akon 82 al-​Hallaj  184 al-​Misri Dhu’l Nun 184 Alaap 18, 84 Alam Ara 111, 112 alapana 57 alap 37, 41, 42, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 57, 116, 120 alap-​gat 47, 49, 50 Albela 113 Ali, Lucky 128, 227, 229 “Alive” 159 “Allah ke bande” 186, 201 “All Wrong Blues” 145 Allah 29–​30, 43, 48 58, 186, 201 Alla Rakha 76, 81 All India Radio 74, 79, 105, 119, 130, 138, 142, 218 Aloo Chaat 19 Alsisar, Abhimanyu 165 Alsisar Mahal 165 Alternative Music 42, 85 “Alum, Alum, Alum” 157 AM Studios 209, 213 Aman, Zeenat 185 A Meeting by the River 82 Ameri-​centric  192 American 74, 86, 153, 154, 162, 170, 192, 195; accents 202; country music 202; folk 139; jazz 70, 72, 75, 79; Jazz Band 70; rappers 167; talkies 111 Amsterdam 168 Anandlakshmi 198 Anderson-​lopez, Christian  103 Andhra Pradesh 39, 47, 97 Anglo-​American Music  170 Anglo-​Indians 74, 75, 113, 137, 139, 140, 146, 162 “Angrezi Beat Te” 91 Angry Young Man 111, 112, 114 Anien, Tini 90 Antakshari 105 antara 30, 37, 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 53, 57, 115, 119–​21 Antaragni 213 Anthems 100, 141, 202, 215; patriotic 87; power 203; religious 161; sports 100; women’s anthem 100, 101–​2; women’s empowerment 100; youth rock 100 Anti-​colonial  99 Apache Indian 84, 85, 168

Appropriation 85, 76 Arabic Poetry 51 Arab 10, 183 Aradhana 72 Aramaic prayer 157 Arjuna 166 Armstrong, Louis 70, 71, 113 Armenian 140 Arnold, Alison 113 Arranged Marriage 123 Arrangements 126 artha, 24 Asha 72 Asher, Nina 85 Asia 81 Asian Dub 18 Asian Dub Foundation 85 Asian Underground 85, 91 Astinato 210 Aśoka 10 Assam 159, 161 Atheism 23 Auliya, Nizamuddin 12–​13 Aum 40, 44 Australia 78, 141, 168 auto tuning 37 Avenged Sevenfold 201 Awaara 112 Axecalibre 151 Axis Bold as Love 76 “Aye Bachchu” 101 Ayyagari, Shalini 56, 58 B4U Music 193 Baadshah 169 Babri Masjid 11, 14 “Babuji Zara Dheere Chalo” 108 Bachchan, Amitabh 111, 115 Background Score 102, 109, 121 Background Singers 116 Backing vocals 225 Badhai 22–​3 “Badal Pe Paon Hai” 100–​1 Badshah 91, 93, 126 BAFTA 208 Bagchi, Nondon 147, 199 Bahava 38 Bahrain 219 Bahuchara Mata 23 Bakshi, Sahej 153, 168 Balakrishnan, Dilip 147

236  • Index Balasubremaniyam 107, 209 Bali, Karan 182 Bamboo Flute 58 Bandish 41, 46–​7, 48 Bangalore 90, 145, 150, 161, 165, 218 Bangladesh 14, 83, 97, 137 Banjo 115, 216–​17 Banks, Louis 71, 146, 149, 152 Bansal, Parul 198 Bansuri 52, 83, 124, 131 Barker, Hugh 195 Basgo Monastery 131 Bass 126, 209, 212, 216, 223 Bass drop 126 Basu, bipasha 105 Battle of the Bands 202 Baul folk music 146 Bavan, Yolanda 71 BBC Radio (World Service) 74, 121, 138, 152 Bbuddha…Hoga Terra Baap 127 Beaster-​Jones, Jayson 105, 108, 115, 116, 120, 126, 127, 128, 184 Beat contest 141 Beat music 139, 145, 166 Beat musicians 139 Beat Night 141 Beat-​X  139 Beatles, The 76, 78, 83, 84, 74–​5, 138, 140, 162, 182, 199–​200, 220 “Beedi” 104 BeeMP3 200 Belliappa, Nirupama 145 Bengal 21 Bengali Films 121 Bengali poem 55 Berkeley, Busby 98 Bernal, Gael Garcia 103 Bernstien, Leonard 103 Berry, Chuck 199 Bhabiye ni Bhabiye 18, 84 Bhagavad Gita 166 Bhairav thaat 46 Bhajan xi, 26–​7, 29, 30, 37, 49, 55, 67, 90, 104, 107, 109, 115–​16, 117; Kabir 29; Mirabai 29 Bhakti 47, 50, 26–​7 Bhanayak Maut 151, 163, 165 Bhangra 83–​4, 85, 91, 116, 117–​18, 84, 87, 88, 108, 168, 225 Bhangra Ragamuffin (Bhangramuffin) 85 Bhansali, Sanjayleela 107 Bharat Ratna 118

Bhasin, Aditya 58 Bhatia, Sidharth 75, 93n, 138, 140, 145 Bhatkhande, V. N. 45, 52–​3 Bhatt, Vishnu Mohan 82 Bhatta, charya Sumit 101 Bhojpuri music (songs) 55–​62; Folk songs 107; Language 6, 59; Pop Music 37, 59; Purvi Songs 59–​60, 61 Bhoomi 147 Bhopal 152, 166; AID Bhopal 152 Bhosle, asha 104, 117, 128 Bihar 37, 59, 104 Billboard Magazine 78 Billett, Simon 9 Binaca Geetmala 105–​6 Birmingham 84–​5, 91–​2 Birthday 107 Birth Song 20, 22 Bitonality 223 Bividh Bharti Service 106 Blaaze 3 Black Friday 157 “Black Mountainside” 76 Black or White 3–​4 Black Sabbath 150, 220 Blacklist 159 Blocker, Jack 72 Blood and Thunder 161 “Blossom” 80 Bloodywood 160 Blue Fox Restaurant 71 “Blue Hawaii” 103 Blue Stars, The 161 Bluff Master 160 Bobby 110, 114 Bock, Richard 78 Body Heat 99 Body percussion 127 Bohemia 89, 90 “Bole Churiyan” 124–​5 Bollywood 3–​5, 32, 51, 58, 86–​7, 91, 92, 93, 102, 73, 96–​113, 144, 152, 154, 155, 157–​8, 160, 163, 165, 168, 179, 181, 187, 189, 191, 201, 195–​7, 224, 229; Classic Age 111, 112, 114, 117, 118, 120, 121, 125, 126; Golden Age 72, 100, 104, 111, 112, 113, 118, 120, 124, 125, 128, 210, 115; Juggernaut 183–​4; Late Old Bollywood 112; New Bollywood 112, 123; Old Bollywood 108, 112 “Bolo Ta Ra Ra” 86, 88 Bol-​s 116

Index  •  237 Bombay (film) 11, 209 Bombay (city) 4, 32n, 70–​1, 93n, 97–​8, 119, 123, 137, 139, 140–​1, 144, 145, 159–​60, 163, 172n, 182 Bombay Dreams 3, 4, 208 Bombay Velvet 72–​3 Bombay Vikings 89 Bongos 113, 121 “Boom Shak-​a-​Lak”  85 Boogie Woogie 115 Booth, Greg xiii, 73, 113, 114, 138, 139, 150, 163 Bootleg 126, 189 Border 11 Bourdieu, Pierre 169 Bowie, David 199 Box Office Revenue 98 Boyle, Danny 4 Brahma (band) 163 Brahman 76 Brahmin 14 Brass 113, 199 Brigade Road 70 Britain 17–​18, 73–​4, 75, 79, 83–​5, 89, 129, 168 British 9, 10, 51; British Colonial Legacy 83; British Era 114; British Government 99; British Raj 70, 83, 99, 137; British Rule 73, 138; Colonial Rule 14; Empire 83; Punjab 20, 84; Raj 9, 11, 20, 83, 99 Bread 79 Brindley, Paul 189 British-​Asian 69, 84, 128; Fusion 78–​9; Music 85, 86, 87–​91, 92, 93; Wave 83, 86 Broadway 71, 103, 110, 182 Brodha V 90 Brubeck, Dave 70, 218 Buddhism 15, 23 “Bullah ki Jaana” 184, 185 Bunty aur Babli 123 Burman, R.D. 71, 113, 114, 119, 121–​2, 152 Busta Rhymes 85 “But it Rained” 157 Butler, Roy 70 Byrds, The 76, 78, 84 Cabaret 71–​2, 108, 117, 137 Calcutta (see also Kolkata) 70–​1, 74, 121, 137, 139, 141, 144, 146, 182, 224 California Institute of the Arts 78 Call and Response 210 Canada 83–​4, 97, 168 Capitol Records 75

Carnatic Music 37, 39, 43, 44, 52, 71, 79, 145, 170, 218 Caribbean 84, 97 Carnatica 97 Cassette Culture 55 Cassette 61, 106, 196–​7; Cassette tapes 106 Cassidy, Butch 209 Cassini’s Division 164 Castanets 131, 209 caste 14, 29, 111, 96, 188 Cavaliers, The 147 CDs 56 Cello 121 Censorship 110 Central Asia 10 CGI 98, 110 Chaal rhythm 18, 116 Chaiti Songs 59 Chaitra 20, 59 “Chaiyya, Chaiyya” 97, 129–​30, 211, 229n Chak De! India 101–​2 Chakra 44 Chakraborty, Pritam 123, 191 “Challa” 186 “Chammak Challo” 82 Chamundaa 16 “Chandamama dur ke” 100 Chandigarh 169, 188, 225 Chandra, Sheila 84 Chandrabindoo 164 Channel V 192; Viewer’s Choice Award 87, 128 Channel X 193 Chatterjee, B. C. 55 Chattopadhyay, Gautham 147 Chauhan, Sunidhi 82, 191 Checker, chubby 103 Chennai 3, 9, 62, 71, 139, 165, 209, 213 Chillwave 165 China 9, 63, 97 Chinai, Alisha 86, 87, 88, 128 Chinapa, Nikhil 168 Chinese 84, 140 Chinta 18 Chisti Order (See Nizamuddin Aulyia) 31 Chittorgarh Rajasthan 27 chhap 12 Chhath Puja 59 Chicago Blues 220 Children’s songs 100 Chinai, Alisha 153 Coachella 164

238  • Index Chocolate, Chic (Antonio Xavier Vaz) 70, 113, 139 “Choli ke Piche” 104 “Choot No. 1” 91 Chopra, yash 97 Chord Changes 77 Choreography 102, 109–​11, 116, 129–​30, 182, 191 “Choti Si Asha” 210 Chisti, Baba 113 Christian 140; Church 162; Missionary 161; Repertoire 202 Christianity 23–​4, 106 Christmas 106 Christ College 218 Chromaticism 115 Church Choir 161 Cinematography 98, 129 Cintara 125 ciz 49 Clapton, Eric 200 Clapping 101, 124, 131, 212–​13 Clarinet 114 Classical 51 Classical Dance Forms 39; Bharatanatyam 39; Kathak 39, 116; Kathakali 39; Kuchipudi 39 classical music x, 15, 41, 52, 116, 123, 127, 149, 191, 199, 204, 215, 226 Classical traditions 111, 119, 120 Club 145, 149 Clubbing 126 CNN 192 Cobain, Kurt 222 Cocker, Joe 199 Cocktail 91 Coco 103 Coda 121 Cold War 74 Coldplay 199 Collaborations 83, 75, 81, 82, 92; East-​West  69–​93 Collins, Judy 142 Coltrane, Alice 75 Coltrane, John 75 Combustibles, The 75, 93n, 140, 163 Communalism 228 Communism 146 Communist 15 Communist Party 71, 141 Composer 96 Compton 89–​90 Concessio, Maurice 139

Conga Drums 113, 115 Consonance 40 Contrabands 90 Convent School 220 Cooder, Ry 82, 69 Correa, Micky 139 Cosmopolitan 127, 194 Cotton, Rudy 70 counter culture 75 counter melodies 125 Courtesan 50, 107–​8; Tawaif 50–​1, 107, 108 Court of Maihar 78 Coventry, Carol 194 Cover (Songs and bands) 55, 61, 71, 73, 75, 78–​9, 139, 149, 159, 170, 182, 185, 214, 218, 226–​7 Cowell, Simon 191 Cream 147 Creative common license 218 creativity 52, 79–​80, 84, 104, 121, 136, 153, 168, 195 Creole 140 “Criminal” 82 Crooner 124, 125 Cross-​cultural exchange 77, 78, 84 Crossover 92 Cuban Music 121 Cubban Park 162 Cullity, Jocelyn 192 Cultural identity 89, 128 Cultural imperialism 169 Cure, The 199 Curry 83 Cymbals 18, 125 Dadlani, Vishal 82, 123, 158, 159, 186 Daf 18, 212 Daily News and Analysis India (DNA) 159 dalit 14 Dance 104; Dance club 168; Dance Hall 85; Dance Music 85, 124, 127, 152, 167–​8; Dance Numbers 107; Dance Styles 85; Dancing 124 Dappan Guttu Songs 107 Darbar, Ismael 107, 116, 123 “Dard-​e-​Disco”  108 Dargah 7 Dark Crusaders/​Dixian Empire 162 Dark Horse Records 83 Darr 99 Dateline Delhi 142–​3 Dattilam 38 Dead Man Walking 80

Index  •  239 Dead Poets Society 99 Deep Purple 150, 163, 218 Deewana 88 Deewar 112 “Dekho ab toh” 182 Delhi ix, xi, 5, 7, 12, 59, 61, 72, 91, 139, 142, 145, 150, 151, 155, 157, 161, 167, 183, 196, 201, 202–​3, 204, 207, 225, 232; Bands 156–​8; New 90, 156, 199; Poetry Slam 91; Sultanate 10, 12, 30 Delhi 6 101 Delhi Belly 201 Demonic Resurrection 150, 151–​2, 163, 165 Denisoff, R. S. 54 Dervishes 211 Descant 210 desi 154, 195 Desi Beats Rock On (Kurkure) 193–​5 Desi Hip-​hop 85, 89, 90 Desi-​rap  93 Desmond, Doig 142 deSousa, Peter 198 Dever 59, 62 “Devera Tudi Killi” 59, 62 Devi, Girija 30 Devotional Music 59, 90, 104, 106–​7, 136, 196 Dey, Manna 113, 117 Dhami, Jaz 169 “Dhanno ki Aankhon Mein Raat ka Surma” 114 Dharia, Pav 169 Dharma 24 Dharmendra 115 Dhol 18, 113, 116, 121, 124, 125 Dholak 18, 57, 113, 116, 119, 121, 122, 182, 186 Dhoom (album) 156 “Dhoom” (film song) 110, 154 Dhoom 2 (film) 110 “Dhoom Pichak Dhoom” 156, 157 Dhrupad 41, 45, 47, 48, 49, 51 Dhruvaa 166 Diaspora: Illegal 189; Indian x, xi, 4, 6, 67, 69, 83, 84, 85, 89, 90, 97, 126, 187, 196, 197; Marketing 188; Media 150; Punjabi 86; South Asian 17 Digital: CD 106; Downloads 179; Streaming 96, 189–​200, 218, 226–​7 Dikshitar, Muthuswami 43–​4 Dil Chahta Hai 123 Dil Hai Hindustani 191 “Dil Mere Toda” 112 Dil Se 43, 97, 123, 129–​30, 132, 207, 209–​11

“Dil Se Re” 43, 130 Dil To Pagal Hai 97 Dilwale Dulhania Le Layenge 110, 112, 123 Diminished Sevenths 115 Director 96 Disco 18, 86, 108, 114, 124, 127, 152, 168 Disco Dancer 140 Disco Deewane 86, 88 Discrimination 101 Disney 98, 102, 202 Dissonance 40 Diwali 59, 106–​7 Dixit, Madhuri 97, 104 Dixit, Raghu 207, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 227, 233 DJ 85, 124, 127, 152, 169; Akbar Sami 168; Akhil 168; Ivan 168; Johnny B; Major Lazer Djembe, 216 Doha 29, 57 Domino, fats 103 Domino’s 122 “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” 215 Doordarshan 142 Doors, The 78 Doo-​Wop 101, 124 Double harmonic minor 212, 213 Double stop 127 Doumbek 216 Download Festival 150 Dravidian 39, 47 Dravidian Nationalist Movement 46–​7; Politics of 46–​7 Dream Theater 199 “Dreamer Deewane” 86 Drego, Roger 148 Drixian Empire 151 Drone 38, 40, 48, 52, 57, 77, 82, 76, 116, 146, 210, 211, 212, 213, 215, 228; Tanpura drone 29, 40 “Dum Maro Dum” 182 Drugs 78, 89 Drug Use 77 Drums 41, 72, 79, 113–​14, 131, 153, 156, 163, 198, 199, 216–​17, 225, 228 Drum Machine 84 Drumming 81; Folk 56; Rhythmic 57 Drum Set 18, 121, 125, 182 Dualist Inquiry 153, 168 Dub 85, 127 Dubai 61, 97, 133n, 219 Dubstep 126–​7 Dum 108

240  • Index Dunkin’ Donuts 122 Du Perron, Lalitha 50, 63n Durga 26 Dutch 10 Dutt, Geeta 117 Dying Embrace 151 Dylan, Bob 145, 147, 148, 156, 199 E. T. the Extra-​Terrestrial 99 Eagles, The 53, 201 Earth 11 East and West Pakistan 99 Eastern European music 121 East India Company 73 Eastern Religions 78 Eck, Diana 7 Economic Liberalization 11 EDM 124, 126, 147, 151, 168, 181 Eid 106 “Eight Miles Hight” 76 “Ek Din Murli” 30 “Ek Glassy” 92 Ek Jhalak 197 “Ek Pal” 128 Ek Phool Char Kante 182 “Ek Sanam Chahiye Aashiqui ke liye” 182 Ek-​tara  18, 28 Electric Bass 215 Electric Prunes, The 79 Electronic 86, 125, 165; Sincussion 86; Syndrums 86 Electronica 85, 159–​60, 166, 167–​8; Indie 153 Ellington, Duke 70–​1, 72, 74 Embellishment 42, 53, 63n Emergency, (Indian) 111, 112n, 137 EMI 74 Eminem 90, 200 ENGO 23 Enchanted Valley Festival 165 Erlmann* 128 Eros Entertainment 197 Erotic (eroticism) 56, 105, 108, 129 Ethnic Diversity 84 Euphoria 151, 154–​5, 156, 157, 170, 191 Europe 78, 81, 83, 86, 141, 157, 168 Evergreen songs 124, 126 “Ever So Lonely” 84 Eve Teasing 62 Exoticism 212 Experimental music 77

Experimentation 114, 157 “Eye of the Tiger” 203 F16s 165 Facebook 62–​3, 181, 198, 200 Fado 70 Family drama 123 “Fantasy Without Limits” 80 Fanzine 142 Farrell, Jerry 76, 77 Fear 99 Female Character 99, 117 Female Dance 108 Female pop vocalist 128 Female Singers 104, 108 Female Vocal Timbre 113, 124, 125, 128 Female Perspective 100, 125 Feminist Ideas 101 Femme Fatale 83 Fentones, The 140, 161 Fernandes, Naresh 69, 70, 74, 93n, 113, 133 Fernandes, Remo 152 Fetes 162 Fiddle 127 Filmfare Awards 170, 208 Filmi: bhajan 117; disco 86; Folk 115, 116; Genre 116; ghazal 117; git 115–​16; Qawwali 115, 117, 185; songs 128 Film Music 42, 72, 71 42, 86, 88, 96–​131, 103, 105, 111, 122, 170–​1, 208; Hindi 42, 119, 217; Indian 152, 179, 224, 232; Marketing 126–​7; Pakastani 113 Film Musical 102 Film Song 96–​113, 93, 183, 211 Film Song Formula 107 Film Studio Orchestra 114 Film Studio(s) 71, 113 Finger cymbals 29, 125 Fire 197 “Fire Within, The” 213 “Firework” 202 Fiza 211 Flamenco 131 Flanger 114 Flintstones 139 Flower Drum Song 103 Flute 105, 114, 29–​30, 116, 121, 124, 209, 215 Folk 51, 59, 106, 136, 157, 184, 207; Arts 15; Baul; Bhatiali 21Music 5, 15, 40; Dance 15, 41; Dev Narayan 15; Drumming 56; Folkhop

Index  •  241 168–​9; Hero deities 15; Kangra 20; Lavani 21; Regional 189; Sohar Badhai 5 Folk Song 5, 42, 55, 60, 63, 106, 107; Bhangra 17; Bhojpuri 55, 59; Kangra 20; Manganiyar 57–​8; Punjabi 19; Rajasthan 16, 17, 59, 116; Tamil 59; Women’s 19, 59 Foreground music 109 Foreigners 99 Fort Chittor 16 Fossils 147 Four-​on-​the-​floor  124 Freedom Jam 162 French 10, 140, 194 French Legion of Honour Officer 118 From Dusk Till Dawn 108 Frozen 103 Future soul 165 Funk 220, 222, 223 Funk vocal 222 Furtado’s Music 164 Fusion (music) 67, 69, 70–​1, 75, 82, 84–​5, 125, 127, 136, 141, 152, 156, 157, 166, 170, 185, 187, 194, 210, 213, 214; British-​Asian  78–​9; Bangalore 213; Carnatic 79–​80, 165; Folk 164; Global 82, 83; Indian 114, 141; Indo-​rock  157; Jazz 81, 146; Jazz-​rock  81; Progressive 180; Rock 164; Rock-​classical  145; Sanskrit 166 102, 106, 133n, 188–​9, 190, 200, 227 Gabriel, Peter 80 Gandharva 53 Gandhi, Indira 111, 112 Gandhi, Mahatma 11, 26, 137 Gandhi, Rajiv 149 Ganesh 44, 76 Gangs of Wasseypur 101 Gannguli, Jeet 179 Gat 23, 37, 47, 48, 49 Gayatri mantra 24–​ Ghazal xi, 12–​13, 26, 31, 37, 45, 49–​51, 55, 67, 104, 106, 108, 113, 116, 117, 127, 131, 170–​1, 183, 215 Gaze 104, 108, 110 Gemie, S. 75 gender 14, 15, 96, 188; and sexuality 188; Segregation 20 Genesis 80 Genre-​blurring  227 Geography: Arab Peninsula 10; Ganges 7, 131; Himalayas 6, 7, 129; Khyber Pass 10; Thar Desert 6; Yamuna 7

Getter, joseph 107, 209 Ghajini 101 Ghalat Family 195 Ghalib, Mirza 129 Ghana 25 Gharana 11, 23, 45, 48, 50, 52, 53, 78; Gwalior 51 Ghaznavids 10 “Ghoomar” 59 Gidda 19 Git 20 Gita Govinda 27 “Give Me Some Sunshine” 201 “Give Me Your Eyes” 202 Glimpse Song 108 Global Drum Project 82 Global Fusion 80 Global Indian Music Academy Awards 171 Globalization xi, 9, 37 55, 67, 69, 71, 197, 233 Global Music 90, 191 Goa 71, 113, 118, 151, 164, 202 “Goa Mix” 152 Goan Community 74, 113 Goans 113, 140 Goa Sunburn Festival 164, 168 Gods 26, 44, 59, 76, 131 Goddesses 56, 58–​9, 76 Goddess Gagged 163 Gogavale, Ajay 125 Gogavale, Atul 125 Golden Globe 208 Golden Temple 7 “Good Publicity” 222 Goodman, Benny 113 Goody, Jack 24 Gopi 26–​7 The Gramophone Company (aka Saregama) 74–​5 Grammy Awarded 82 Grammy Awards 208 Grammy Nominated 81, 80 Grappelli, Stephane 79 Grateful Dead 58 82, 147, 162 Great Bear 147, 199 The Greatest Showman 103 Great Indian Rock Festival 145 Great Society, The 148, 161 “Greenback Dollar” 139 Green, Hal 139 Greens Hotel 70, 141 Growler 124

242  • Index Grunge 166 Guinness World Records 118 Guitar 18, 53, 58, 81, 114–​15, 121, 128, 137, 146, 152, 156, 199, 201, 212, 213, 215, 217, 220, 222, 223, 226, 228; Acoustic 77, 131, 182, 186, 225; Bass 79, 115, 121, 225, 58, 79, 121, 139, 163, 225; Electric 77, 79, 84, 121, 217, 101, 182; Hawaiian 82; Lead 180, 225 Gujarat 6–​7 Gulaab Gang 101 Gulzar 210 Gunther, Mark 192 Gupta, Nidhi 195 Gupta, Yana 107 Gurbaxani, Amit 167 Gurshabad 63 Guru 11, 29, 50, 52 78, 199, 207, 213 Guru-​Chela  23 Gurudattr 160 Guru-​shishya  78 Guru-​shishya parampara 11, 15, 23–​4 Guiro 115 Guns N’ Roses 218 Gwalior gharana 51 Haji Ali Dargah 7 “Hall of Fame” 202 Hammond Organ 101 Hamsadhwani Theatre 145 Hanuman 76 Haram 32 Hardcore 166 Hard Kaur (Taran Kaur Dhillon) 91, 92–​3 Hard Rock Café 90, 225 Hare Rama, Hare Krishna 140, 182 Hari 29 “Hari Om Hari” 140 Harley Rock Riders Festival 165 Harmonica 113 115 Harmonium 18, 31, 48, 52, 60, 116, 131, 211 Harmony 52 Hancock, Herbie, 79–​80 Harrison, George 77, 78, 79, 80, 83 Hart, Mickey 82 Hassan, Nazia and Zoheb 73, 86, 88 “Hath me leke Pepsi cola” 61 Haveli 124, 131 Hayden, Michael 152 Hayeck, Selma 108 Hazarika, Anjoy 149 “Heartbeat” 82

“Heart full of Soul” 76 Heath, Brandon 202 Hectics, The 140 Hegemony 128 Helen 108, 117, 122 Hendrix, Jimi 76, 78, 79 Hendrix, Lambert, Ross 71 Henry, E. O. 59 Heramba 44 Hereditary 11, 16–​17, 21, 56, 58, 81, 146 Hero Deity 15, 56 Heroes 104, 108 Heroines 104, 108, 110, 116, 117 Heterophony 58 Heterosexual 99, 100, 197 “Hey There Delilah” 201 High 147 “High Rated Gabru” 169 Hi-​hat  228 Hilt, Llewellyn 147 Himachal Pradesh 20, 161 Hindu 12, 106, 117, 137, 140, 208 Hinduism 15 Hindu-​muslim riots  123 Hindustani Classical Music (See North Indian Classical Music) 31, 39, 45, 90, 113, 118, 165, 184; Form 48; Vocal 48 Hindustani Music 31, 37, 39, 52, 53, 170 Higgins, Jon 11 Hijra 21–​3 Hindi Film: Composers 116; Industry 99; Music 42–​3, 171, 197; Songs 20, 128, 189 “Hind Rock ‘n’ Roll” 156 Hindu Calendar 20 Hindi Cinema 98, 108, 113 Hinduism 3, 23–​4, 29, 152 Hindu Nationalism 14 Hinglish 89, 187, 192, 195–​6 Hip-​Hop 18, 37, 85, 88–​9, 90, 91, 125, 144, 168, 181, 227 Hippies 75, 77, 145, 151 HMV 74, 113, 141 Holi 59, 106–​7 Hollywood 97, 98, 102, 103, 109–​10, 115, 182 Hollywood Film Musical 102 Homosociality 197 Hong Kong 219 Hoodoo Gurus Hoosain, Mehnaz 128 House 127, 168; Acid 152; Fusion 126 Hornbill Festival 165

Index  •  243 Horns 70, 72 “Hotel California” 53, 54, 201, 214 Hu, Cherie 189 Hum Aapke Hai Kaun? 123 Human Bondage 140, 145, 146, 162 Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam 59, 107, 116 “Hum to Aise Hain Bhaiya” 100 Huq, Rupa 84 Hussein, Shah 185 Hussain, Zakir 69, 80, 81, 82, 142 Hydrophone 121 “Hymns from the Blazing Chariot” 166 Hymn Singing 161 I$mir 124 Ibrahim, Vehrnon 150 “Ice Ice Baby” 89 “Ichak Dana Bichak Dana” 100 Idiophone 116 “I Enjoy Being a Girl” 103 Iglesias, Enrique 82 “Ilaya Nila Pozhigirathey” 127 Ilayaraja 127, 208 Illiteracy 153 Imphal Talkies 166 Improvisation 15, 29–​30, 31, 39, 40, 42, 50, 53, 55, 57–​8, 79, 81, 116, 117, 185, 202, 223–​4; Aakaar 42; Bol-​alap 42, 48, 57; Bol-​Taan 42, 48, 57; Improvise 49; Sargam 42, 48; Saval-​Javab 42; Taan 42, 48, 52 “I’m Sexy and I Know It” 126 “Ina Meena Dekha” 72 Incubus 165 Independence 105, 9, 72, 99, 104–​5, 111, 112, 122, 137, 211; Freedom Fighters, 3; Independence Day 162; Independence Rock Music Festival 145, 163, 164; Post-​independence 71, 118, 137, 138, 150; Pre-​Independence 70, 137 Independent Artists 102, 103 Independent Band 227 Independent music 190, 229 Independent Music Scene 217, 149 India Bands Hub 198 India Institute of Technology 144, 159 India Today 89 Indian 13; aesthetics 38; Cultural heritage 126; diversity 13; economy 122; family 99; government 14; identity 13; music 123; music traditions 14–​15; population 14 Indian-​American  89

Indian-​Asian sound  84 Indian Bands 74, 89, 139, 145, 150, 157, 179, 186, 192–​3, 219 Indian Cinema 99, 102, 97 Indian Classical Dance 116 Indian Classical Music 31, 38–​9, 42, 45, 48–​9, 51–​3, 69–​70, 127, 251, 48, 52, 70, 73, 77–​8, 113, 115, 198, 213, 214, 224, 233; and Technology 51 Indian Film Industry 90, 98, 154, 73, 224 Indian Folk (see Folk) Indian Fusion (see Fusion) Indian Idol 191 Indian immigrants 84 Indian Music Industry 93, 179, 188 Indian Music Mug 150 Indian National Congress 105 Indianness 4 Indian Notation 52–​3 Indian Ocean 156–​7, 158, 170, 191 Indian pop 156, 189 Indian Popular Music 102 Indian Rap 89 Indian Semi-​classical-​Music xi, 21, 37, 46, 52, 55, 106, 113, 120, 171 Indian Tobacco Company 144, 164 India’s Got Talent 191 India’s Raw Star 191 India’s Silicon Valley 217 Indi-​pop 85–​6, 87, 87, 88, 89, 91, 93, 127, 153, 181, 229 Indo-​Muslim  12, 52 Indo-​Pakistan/​Bangladesh Liberation War  111 Indo-​Pakistan Border  56 Indo-​Pakistan  War  11 Indo-​Pak  War  73 Indo-​Persian 52, 131 Indus Creed 150, 161, 170, 192 (see Rock Machine) “Inner Light” 76 Inner Sanctum 150, 162 Instagram 62 Instrumentation 111, 96, 113, 115, 125, 127, 170, 210, 220 Instruments xi, 1, 10, 12, 18, 29, 39, 40, 43, 56, 58, 76, 77, 80, 109, 111, 113, 114, 131, 138, 161, 162, 164. 167, 182, 198, 204, 209, 212, 225, 226; Acoustic, 195; Band, 138; Classical, 52; Drone, 52; Electronic, 71, 84, 114, 115; Folk, 52; Indian (classical), 146, 157, 172n; Melodic, 58; Non-​Western,  71;

244  • Index Percussion, 18, 81; Rajasthani, 116; Solo, 49; String, 47; Traditional, 84, 124, 167; Western, 79, 105, 119, 127, 147, 161; Wind, 72, 121 Intangible Cultural Heritage, 24 Intercollegiate music competition 218 Interludes 115, 101, 114, 116, 119, 121, 125, 182, 212 International Film 97 International Women’s Day 102 International Villager 91 Internet vii, xi, 63, 67, 103, 141, 143, 151, 153, 159, 189, 196, 203, 125, 218, 225–​6; Pre-​internet  143 Intersex 22 Iran 75 Irani, B 111 Irani community 23 Ireland, Leon 75 Iron Maiden 150, 157, 199 Iron Maiden Eddfest Rock and Metal Festival 150 “I Said it then as I Said it Now” 103 Isai Puyal 208 Islam 3, 23–​4, 29–​30, 32 Islamic poetry 30 “It’s OK, It’s all Good” 160 Italian 140 Item Number 104, 106, 107 iTunes 93, 215 “I Wanna Fly” 83 Iyanger, Radhika 105 Izzat 23 Jab Tak hai Jaan 186 Jab We Met 99 Jack Daniel’s: Guitarist of the Year 218; Rock Awards 170 Jackson, Michael 3–​4, 200 Jag Changa 215 Jagriti 100 Jai Ho 4 Jai Ho: The Journey Home 3, 4 Jainism 15, 23 Jairazbhoy, Nazir 56 Jamaican 85; Dancehall 168 “Jambalaya” 139 James, Bobin 159 Jammu and Kashmir 131 Jam Sessions 71, 138, 153, 155, 162–​3, 201, 219–​20, 224 Japan 129

Jata 25* Jatin-​Lalit 124, 125 Jaw Harp 131 Jayadeva 27 Jay Z 86 Jazz 37, 41–​2, 69, 70, 73 78, 81, 114, 115, 123, 137, 139, 167, 220, 222, 232; Ameircan 70, 72, 75, 79; Anglo-​Indian  74; Baul 146; Bebop 70, 166; Big Band 70, 113, 121, 166; Dixieland 70, 166; Era 166; Fusion 79, 81; Harmonies 81; Indian 70–​1, 137; Indo x, xi, 67, 73, 75; Instrumentation 124; Java 219; Nepalese 71; rock fusion 81; Swing 70, 166; Vocal harmonies 124 Jazzy B 84, 168 jāti 14 Jethro Tull 218 Jets, The 140 Jews 140 Jhala 47, 48, 52 Jhankaar Beats 160 Jharkhand 59 Jingle 71, 101–​2, 123, 209 Jio Music 188–​9 Jism 99 Jodhaa Akbar 10, 211 Jodhpurkar, Abhay, 125 Johar, Karan 191 Jones, Norah 78, 200 Johnson, Brian 162 Johnson, Robert 200 Jor Jhala 49 Jor 47, 48 Josh 99 The Journey Home 3, 4 Judaism 23 Jugalbundi 30 “Jugni” 101 “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” 78, 79 Jungle 85 Jungles 102 Junior Statesman 141 Junoon 184–​5 Jupiter 218 Kaante 124 Kabbadi 162 Kabhi Khushi, Kabhie Gham 123 Kabir 27 Kabir, Nasreen 210 Kabul 21

Index  •  245 Kafi thaat 46, 53 Kaho Na Pyar Hai 128 Kaif, Katrina 108 Kajol 11 “Kajra Re” 108 Kakkar, Neha 124 Kal Ho Na No 123, 124 Kali 26 Kalidāsa 8 Kama 24 Kamanche 57 “Kandisa” 157 Kapadia, Dimple 110 Kapoor, Aditya Roy 179 Kapoor & Sons 126 Kapoor, Karisma 97 Kapoor, Raj 4, 72, 97, 112, 119 Kapoor, Ranbir 180, 185 Kapoor, Rishi 110 Kapur, Steven 85 “Karava Maadu” 43 Karim 29 Kargil War 159 “Kar Gayi Chuli” 125–​6 Karnataka 39, 159, 162 Kashmir 122, 157 Kaththi 62 Kemenche 212 Kenya 97, 140 Kerala 21, 37, 39, 47, 97 Kerouac, Jack 202 Keskar, B. V. 105, 119 Keyboard 121, 146, 156, 198, 209 KFC 71, 121 Khalnayak 104 Khan, Aamir 123, 187 Khan, Allauddin 78 Khan, Bhungar 17 Khan, Bilas 10 Khan, Farah 129–​30 Khan, Genghis 12 Khan, Lal 10 Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali 31, 31, 69, 75, 80 Khan, Nyamat 48 Khan, Rashid 51 Khan, Shah Rukh 97, 108, 110, 125, 129–​30, 186 Khartal 116 Khasis 140 Khayyam 113 Kher, Kailash 32, 184, 186 Khokhar, Ritesh xiii, 153, 155, 199, 204, 231–​3

Khusrau, Amir 10, 12–​13, 26 “Khwaja mere Khwaja” 207, 211, 212 Khyal 41, 45, 48, 49, 49, 50, 51, 56, 57; Bare 49, 50; Chote 49, 50 Kiedis, Anthony 222 Kinesic-​syncing  126 King(s), 15, 56, 76, 89, 121, 129, 182, 211; Kingdom, 10; Kingship, 99 Kingston Trio 139 Kinnara Music Institute 78 Kirtan 26 Kitaab 114 Kite-​Flying  107 Kiti Hasaal 112 KM Music Conservatory 213 Korea 97 “Ko Ko Korina” 73 Kohli, Shikha 102 Koi Mil Gaya 99 “Koi Yahan aha Nache Nache” 140 Kolkata 164, 182; see also Calcutta Kollywood AKA Tamil Cinema 97 Koode 217 Kora 83 Kothari, Komal 17 Krishna 5, 26–​7, 30, 41, 47, 48, 50, 51, 56, 59, 90, 166 Krn$a, (Krishna, Kaul) 90 Krishnamurthy, Kavita 107, 116, 131 “Krokodil” 146 Krokodil 146 Krosswindz 147, 164 Kryptos 150, 151, 162 Kshatriya 14 Kuala Lumpur 85 “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” 124, 126 Kuenzeng, Karishma 169 Kumar, 47* Kumar, Dileep 208–​9 Kumar, Gulshan 196 Kumar, Kishore 89, 100, 117, 120, 126 Kumar, Sanjay 198 Kumārasambhava 8 Kumari, Barkha 154–​5 Kumari, Meena 108 “Kun Faiya Kun” 180, 211 Kvetko, Peter 87, 181 “Kya Surat Hai” 89 Laaga Chunari Mein Daag 100 Ladakh 131

246  • Index Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India 11, 115 Lahiri, Bappi 140 “Lahore” 169 Lamb of God 201 Langa 21, 37 56 “Last Night” 91 Last Temptation of Christ 80 Latcho Drom 56 Latif, Shah Abdul 184 Latin 114 Lavezzoli, Peter 77 Lawyer, Gary 149, 152 Laxmikant-​Pyarelal 110, 114 Laya 41 Leap Year 97–​8 Led Zeppelin 76, 140, 145, 186, 199–​200 Lelyveld, David 105 Leon Ireland Vocalist of the Year 218 Leone, Sonny 197 “Let it Go” 103 “Let’s Take a Selfie, Pulla” 62 Lewison, Paul 78 LGBTQI+ 96, 22, 197 Liberalization x, xi, 67, 69, 111, 112, 122, 197, 208; Neo-​liberalization, xi, 98, 123; Post-​liberalization xi, 67, 91, 191, 231; Pre-​liberalization 122, 230n Lido Room 71 Life Cycle Music 56 Life in a Metro 201 Light classical 51, 104 “Light My Fire” 78 Linkin Park 201 Lip Sync 115 103, 109, 211 literacy rates 14, 56 Little Richard 140 “Little Shady” 200 Liverpool 138 Live Aid 152 Live Venues 227 Live After Death 150 local deities 15–​16, 96 Local Train, The 188, 225–​9, 230n Lohia, Ram Mohar 14 “Lokada Kalaji” 207, 215–​16, 217 Lollywood 97 London 84, 140, 152, 186 London’s West End 71 Looking 197 Loomba, Raageshwari 128 Lopez, Bobby 103

Lopez, Jennifer 203 Los Angeles 75, 78 Lounge Piranha 162 Love 111 “Love is a Mango” 147 Love marriage 123 Love songs 107, 183 Love story 10, 123, 130, 180, 181 “Lovedrug Climbdown” 160 Luka Chuppi 3 Lungi 213 Lutgendorf, Philip 131 Lyngdoh, Robert, 148 “Maahi Ve” 124–​5 “Maa Tujhe Salaam” 211 Machine Head 150 Mac, Ken 70, 139 Madal 122 Madonna 52 Made in India 87, 88 “Made in India” 88 Madhya Pradesh 166 Madhubala 108 Madras 139–​40, 166 “Maeri” 157 Mafia Munder 91 Magnetic Fields Festival 165 Magnetos, The 161 The Magnificant Seven 121 Magnolia’s 71 Mahabharata 15, 23, 26 Mahadevan, Shankar 107, 123, 156 Maharaja 16, 56, 70 Maharashtra 21 Mahar Music Festival 163 mahavidyalaya 53 Mahavishnu Orchestra 81, 82, 140 Maine Pyar Kiya 128 “Main Hoon Na” 104 “Main Shayer to Nahin” 110, 114 Majaw, Lou 148 Majboor 112 Majumdar, Pandit Ronu 30 Make Way for the Indian 85 Makhija, Sahil 152 Maldives 219 Male perspective 125 Male Singers 104 Male Vocal Timbre 113 Malavli 144

Index  •  247 Malayali 218 Mallik, Amaal 126 Malik, Anu 123 Malik, Arifulla 213 Malik, Subir 194 Mandolin 18 113, 114, 121 Manganiyars 55, 56, 57, 58–​9, 116, 17, 20, 37, 116 “The Manganiyar Seduction” 56, 57, 58 Mangeshkar, Deenanath 118 Mangeshkar, Lata 3, 100, 104, 112, 113, 117, 118, 126 Mani, Bruce Lee 199, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 224, 225, 230n Manisha, Koirala 129–​30 Manipur 161–​2, 202 Manmaugi 89 Mann, Harbhajan 88 Manoranjan Music 193 Manqabat 211 Mantra 25, 166 “Ma Rewa” 157 Manuel, Peter xiii, 56, 105–​6, 115, 185, 196 “Maria” 103 Marriage 14, 20, 22, 29, 60, 100, 123–​4, 232 “Masakali” 101 Masala 219 Masala Films 111 Mass distribution 55, 103 Mast 32 Mastan 91 Mastan, Khalishah 213 Mastii 193 Mata, Anjli 199 Mathai, Kamini 213 Mathur, Yashika 169 Matthews, Dave 222 Mayer, John 75 Mazzarella, William 192 Mbira 83 MC Divine (aka Vivian Fernandez) 167 McDonalds 71, 122 McFerran, Bobby 215 McLaughlin 81, 145 McLoughlin, John 75 McLuhan, Marshall 141 Me Against Myself 88 Megadeth 150, 165 Meghadūta 8 Meghalaya 153, 159, 202 Mehboob 107

“Mehbooba, Mehbooba” 104, 122 Mehfil 108, 51 Mehndi, Daler 86, 87, 88 Mehra, Ramit 225, 226, 227, 229, 230n Mehta, Deepa 197 Mehta, Zubin 79 Melisma 116 Melodic contour 60–​1 Melodrama 104, 111 Melody 77 Melody Maker 142 Mendosa, Loy 123 Menon, Anjali 217 Menon, Bhaskar 74–​5, 141 Men’s Songs 59 Menuhin, Yehudi 78–​9 Menzel, Idina 103 “Mera Joota Hai Japani” 115, 118, 183, 88 Mercury, Freddie 87, 140 “Mere Gully Mein” 167 “Mere Naam Tu” 125 Metal 181; Bands 163; Blackened death 151; Doom 151; Death 151; global 151; Heavy 69, 145, 146, 149, 151, 152, 162, 165, 166, 198, 232; Math 220; Indian 150, 151; Indian Death 165; Indian heavy 152; Progressive 151, 165; Thrash 151; Vedic 136, 166 “Metal Age” 162 Metal Aliens in Devils Soul (M.A.I.D.S.) 151, 166 Metal Archives 151 Metal Hammer’s Golden God Award Metallica 1150, 159, 199, 200, 214 Meter changes 125 “Meter Mele One and a Half ” 207, 220, 222, 223, 224 Middle East 61, 97, 168 Middleton, Richard 52, 54 MIDIval Pundits 168 Midnight’s Children 137 Migration 83 87 Millennium 150, 151, 161 Minimoog 114 Minister of Information and Broadcasting 105 Minority 83 Minstrelsy 113 Mirabai 27–​8; Politics of 29 Miradangm 43 Mirage 163 Mirchi Music Awards 171 Mirchi Music Awards South 171 Mise-​en-​scene  129

248  • Index Mishra, M 59 Misogyny 91 Mistry, Firozshah 111 Mithoon 179 Mixolydian 119, 183, 223 Mizoram 202 MJ Show, The 160 Moana 103 Mobile Phone (smartphone) 62–​3, 188–​9, 200 “Moby Dick” 200 Mocambo 71 “Mohair Mountain” 200 Modal 52, 119 Modi, Narendra 231 Mohabbatein 99 Mohan, Madan 89 Mohan Veena 82 Moheener Ghoraguli 146, 147, 164 Moinuddinchisti 7, 211 Moitra, Shantanu 127 Mojos, The 148 Moksha 24 Mollywood AKA Malayalam Cinema 97 Mongols 10 Monroe, Marilyn 108 Monsoon (band) 84, 86 Monsoon 8, 9, 16, 20, 32, 62, 115 Monterey Festival 76 Mood Indigo 143–​4, 161 Moody Blues, The 76 Moombahton 126 Moral Universe 104 “Mora Saiyan Bulave” 51 Morcom, Anna 105, 115 Mosaic Festival 219 Motherjane 150 Mother Teresa 142 Mouth organ 121 Movement 29 Mozart of Madras 208 MP3 Skulls 203 Mridangam 47 MTV 86, 89, 150, 159, 191, 192, 193; Asian Music Awards 171; Asian Viewer’s Choice Award 150; Beats 192; Coke Studio, 179, 193–​4, 195; Headbanger’s Ball 150; India 150; India Immies 170; (Pepsi) Indies 192, 195; Roots 195; Unplugged 179, 195; VJ 168, 191 Mudra 24, 37 Mughal-​e-​Azam 108, 10

Mughal Emperor 10, 27, 30, 50, 51, 73, 108 Mughal Emperors 10; Jahangir 10*; Jalal-​ud-​din Muhammad Akbar 10, 211; Shah Jehan 10* Mughal Empire 10, 27, 30, 51; Emperor 50; Poets 27 Mughals 10, 51 Mujra 108 Mukesh 117 Mukhra 30, 49, 115, 120, 127 Multi-​ethnic music  84 Mumbai ix, 4, 7, 9, 71, 73, 76, 97, 113, 140, 145, 151–​2, 157–​8, 161, 163, 165, 167, 182–​3, 193, 209, 213, 7, 9, 73, 151, 158, 163 “Mundiyan To Bach Ke” 85, 168 Murli 30 “Mur Mur Ke Na Dekh” 72 Music: Blues xi, 67, 139, 145, 146, 164–​5, 220, 222; Blues-​grunge  166; Classical (see Classical); Country 203, 213–​14; Filmi (see filmi); Folk (see Folk); jazz (see Jazz); Pop 32, 37, 53, 55, 59, 73, 74, 76–​7, 82, 83, 86–​9, 91, 93, 103, 128, 136, 139–​40, 145, 153, 156, 168, 183–​4, 185, 191, 200, 213, 220, 224, 229; Pop-​rock  169; religious x, 55; semi classical (see semi classical Musical conventions 111 Music arrangement 125, 127, 215 Music director 121, 126 113 Music Education 80, 155, 224 Music Festivals 80, 164–​5 Music India 193 Music Industry 86, 93, 96, 102, 103, 154 Music Launch 109 Muslim ix, 7, 11, 12, 30, 32n, 38, 50, 52, 56, 93n, 106, 117, 123, 137, 140, 208, 216 Muslim Poet 216 Muslim Saints 58 Mustangs, The 140 Mustt Mustt 80 “My Heart Will Go On” 202–​3 My Name is Khan 123 Mystiks 139 “Naachu ya Gade” 112 “Nadaan Parindey” 100, 180, 201 Nada Brahman 38 Nadeem-​Shravan 124, 182 Nadira 72 Naezy (aka Naved Sheikh) 167 Nagaland 161, 165, 202 Nagaswaram 72

Index  •  249 Naghma 57, 120 Nair, Sharada and Trilok, 209 Nair, Vijay 165 “Namak” 104 Nandy, A 119 “Nani Teri Morni ko Mor Le Gaye” 100 “Nanha Munna Rahi Hoon” 100 Narayana 90 Narayan, Kirin 20 Narayan, Udit 107 National Film Awards 170, 208 National Identity 69, 194 Nationalism 99 Nationalist 119 National Songs 100 Nation Building 99, 111, 118, 140 Natyasastra 38, 47 Naushad 113 Navaratna 10 Nawab 50, 51 Negi, Raman 225, 227, 230n Negotiation 85 Nehru, Jawaharlal 122, 137 Neo 125 Neo-​liberalization 98, 123 Nepal 75 Nepalese Jazz see Jazz Nepali 122 Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose; The Forgotten Hero 211 Netflix 97 Neuman, Daniel 11 New Delhi see Delhi New Media 106 New Orleans Jazz 220 New Silk Music Road 75 New York 78 New York City 71 New York Times 152 Newport Jazz Festival 159–​60 NH7 Weekender 147, 164–​5, 219, 227; Bacardi 164, 229 Nielsen study 189 Nigam, Sonu 83, 88, 125 Nigeria 91 Nightclub 71, 72, 73, 108, 110, 126, 137, 168 “Nimbura, Nimbura” 59, 107, 116 Nirula’s 122 Nirvana 199 “Nocturne” 160 Non-​diegetic  109

Non-​Western Collaboration  83 No One Killed Jessica 101 Noorani, Eshaan 123 No Doubt 150 No Reservations 85 “Nowhere to Run” 162 North India 13, 81 Notorious B.I.G. 90, 167 NPR 80 NRI 6, 17, 86, 191 Nucleya 126, 156 Nya-​s  43, 61 Nyas 43 Oakenfold, Paul 152 Old Media 106; 8-​track  106; Analog recording 106; Cassette Tapes 106; Newspaper 106; Phonographs 106; Print Advertising 106; Radio 106, 149; Reel to Reel 106; Television 106, 109, 149 “Om” 76 Omkara 104 Om Shanti Om 108 O.N.E. 93 On the Road 202 One Night Stand 197 Only Much Louder 165 Opera singer 110 Open Letter to Honey Singh 91 Oral Narrative 61 Orchestra 113, 79 102, 114, 126 Orchestral 125 Organ 121 Orientalism 76 Orkut 200 Ornament(s) see women’s ornaments Ornamentation (music) 41–​2, 47, 48, 63n, 72, 116, 172n, 116, 202; Gamak 42, 47; Kan-​Swar 42; Khatka 42; Meend 42 Osbourne, Ozzy 162 Oscillators 114 Other Backward Classes (OBCs) 14 Ottoman Empire 212 Outdustry 189 “O Womaniya” 101 Oye Hoye 88 Pacheco, Lucila 71, 72 Padmaavat 59 Paisley, Brad 200 Pakad 43*

250  • Index Pakeeza 51 108 Pakhawaj 46–​7, 81, 121 Pakistan 14, 32, 73, 75, 80, 83, 103, 117, 156, 184, 186, 200 Pakistani 84 Pakistani Pop 86 Paluskar, V. D. 52, 53 Pandora 189, 215 Pangong Lake 131 Panihari 7, 16–​17, 59 “Paper Puli” 207, 220–​1, 224 “Paranne” 217 Parati, Maharana 15 Parikrama 150, 157, 161, 163, 194 Park Street 70–​1, 75, 137, 141 Participation 109 Parsi Community 23, 113, 140–​1 Partition 11, 14, 70, 83, 99, 111, 117 Parveen, Abida 211 Patowari, Kalpena 59 Patron(s), 56, 58, 146 Patronage 10–​11, 45 Patriarchy 100, 101 Patriotic 119; Songs 100 Pattison, Louie 152 Paudwal, Anuradha 29 “Peace Just in Heaven” 150 Pearl Jam 80, 159 Pentagram 150, 158–​60, 163 Persia x, 10, 12, 57, 183, 185; Poetry 32 Perry, Katy 202–​3 Percussion 81, 82, 119, 121, 225 Peto, Ed 189 Petty, Tom 200 PewDiePie 196 Phalguna 59 Phag Songs 59 Philadelphia 152 Phase Shifts 114 Phonographs 105 Photoshop 62–​3 Phrygian Mode 115 Phullan Di Bahar 19 Phuyal, Surendra 71 Phynyx 151, 161 Piano 70, 71, 119, 121, 125, 139, 146, 199, 204, 208–​10, 212 Piano Man Jazz Club 72 Picturization 96, 101, 104, 106, 109–​11, 114, 128–​31, 182, 189, 192 Pink 101 “Pink Anthem” 101

Pink Floyd 220 Pir 29, 208 Pirating (music) 150, 196 Pitbull 126 Pitch Perfect 103 “Piya Haji Ali” 210 “Piyogi Maine Ram Ratan Dhan” 29 Pizza Hut 122 PK 101, 123 Plague Throat 161 Plain White T’s 201 Plan B 218 Planet Drum 82 Plant, Robert 145 Playback Singer 73, 82, 87, 91, 92, 101, 103, 107, 116, 117, 126 Playback singing 103, 104, 111, 118, 122 political movements 14 Political tension 123 Politics 85, 98, 228 Polydor 75 Polyphony 119, 210 Pop Music 103, 125, 145, 210 Popular 51 Popular songs 120 Portuguese 10, 113, 151; Portuguese Goan Musicians 70 Post-​liberalization (see liberalization) Post-​liberalized  115 Post-​Partition  113 Postmark 151 Power Chord 228 Prabhu, Harsha 142 Prakash KN 217 Pre-​liberalization (see liberalization) Pretenders, The 199 “Pretty Child” 150, 192 Presley, Elvis 79, 103, 182 Presentational Music 109–​10 Prime Minister Narasimha Rao 122 “Prithibita naki” 147, 164 Privatization 122 Progressive 126, 220 PTC Punjabi 193 Pune 161 Punjab 7, 83 Punjabi 18, 63, 84, 85, 92, 108, 113, 140; Devotional 196; Film Music 91; Folk music 169 17, 84; Music (songs) 124, 168, 186; Wedding Songs 19; Women’s Song 19 Punjabi MC 85, 88 168 Punk 85, 198

Index  •  251 Puja 23 Purana-​s 15 Purana Qila 56 purvi 59, 60, 61; Songs 59 “Pur je ho gailu Machine” 60 Pyaari Dushman 140 “Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya” 108 Qawwal 80, 185 Qawwali xi, 12, 26, 31–​2, 37, 41, 42, 45, 51, 55, 57, 58, 80, 88, 109, 115, 116, 117, 120, 169, 180, 184, 185, 211, 212 Queer 197 Queen 101, 140, 203 Question-​Answer Sequence  77 Quit India Movement 73–​4, 99 Qurbani 86 Qureshi, Regula 12; Philosophy 38; World view 24 R & B 212, 213 Rabab 10*, 122 Radha 26–​7, 47, 50, 51 Radio and Music 91 Radio Ceylon 74, 105–​6, 138 Radio Mirchi 93 Radio Verve 215 raga 8–​9, 12, 15, 20, 29, 31, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 55, 56, 57, 59, 60, 61, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 83, 76, 111, 115, 119, 131, 136, 146, 152, 157, 167, 170, 172n, 183, 202, 212, 213; anandabhairavi 43; aroha 43, 45–​6, 53; avaroha 43, 45, 46, 53; bageshri 43; basant 115; bhairav 43, 45–​6, 131, 212, 213; bhairavi 115, 119; classification 45; hamsadhwani 43, 44; jog 43, 46; kafi 46, 53; kalyani 43; megh malhar 8, 115; nata 43; natabhairavi 43; purvi 59; raga-​inspired 83, 171 Rafi, Mohammad 100, 104, 117, 118, 126 Raftaar 91 Ragga 85 “Raghupati Raghav Rajaram” 26 Rags to Riches 119 Raghu Dixit 194 Raghu Dixit Project, The 154, 162, 87, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 230n Ragtime 119 Rahman, A. R. 3–​4, 83, 88, 112, 115, 123, 226, 127, 129, 180, 184, 201, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 230n, 231 Rai, Aishwarya 108, 116

“Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu” 127 Raja, Lataf 88 Rajagopal, Rajeev 217, 218, 220, 224, 225, 230n Raja Hindustani 124 Rajasthan 6–​7, 15–​17, 21, 26–​7, 29, 32n, 33n, 37, 56, 59, 93n, 96, 107, 116, 165 Rajasthani Folk Songs (see Folk Music) Rajasthani Roots 58 Rajput 12, 16, 27 Rama 14, 20, 29, 59, 90 Ramachandra, C 113 Ramcharitmanas 26 Ram, Rahul 157 Ramanujam, BK 198 Ramanujan, 26* Ramayana 15, 20, 23, 26 Ranade, Ashok 105, 183 Randhawa, Guru 169 Ranpal, Jean-​Pierre  79 Rang Bhavan 163–​4 Rang De Basanti 3 Rang di Basanti 123 Ra.One 82 Rap 165, 181, 18, 37, 85, 88, 90–​1, 92; Desi 167; Gully 166–​7 Rape 62, 91 Rasa (See emotion) 28, 38, 50, 108 24, 37, 39, 40; Shringar 28, 50 Rascals, The 76 Rasika 38, 77 Ratnam, Mani 123 129, 209–​10 Ravi, Arjun 141 Ravichander, Anirudh 62 Ravjiani, Shaker 82, 123 Rawlley, Vishal 61 Raxstar 89 Real World Record Label 80 Record Labels 83 Red Bull 164 Red Hot Chili Peppers 202 Regev, Motti 169 Reggae 18, 85, 168, 216 Reggaeton 126 Regional Cinema 97 Regional Languages 99; Arabic 12, 45, 212; Bengali 5, 6, 14, 154; Bhojpuri 6; Braj Bhasha 39; English 6, 10, 13, 124, 153, 161, 220; Gujarati 5, 6; Hindi 3, 5–​6, 13, 39, 99, 124, 144, 153, 194, 215; Hindi-​Urdu 100, 161, 167, 226, 227; Indo-​Aryan 13, 39; Kannada 39, 196, 215; Malayalam 39, 217; Marathi 5; Persian 10, 12, 45; Punjabi 5,

252  • Index 6, 116; Rajasthani 6, 15, 16, 29, 37, 56, 116; Tamil 5, 39, 44, 194, 196, 210; Telugu 3, 5–​6, 32n, 39, 196; Urdu 3, 5, 6, 12, 13, 39, 51, 99, 105, 211 Reincarnation 24 Rekha 108 Reliance Industry 189 religion 14, 111, 96 Religious Festivals 59, 104 “Remember Me” 103 Remember Shakti Remix 86, 126–​7, 168, 170 Representational Music 109 Reshammiya, Himesh 191 Retro 125 ReverbNation 200 “Rewrite the Stars” 103 Rhythm 77 Rhythm and Blues 165 Rhythmic Drumming 57 Rhythmic Mnemonics 224 Rinder, Grant 189 Ritual 5, 15, 19–​20, 24, 41, 59, 61, 105, 157 “Roar” 203 Rock 18, 37, 55, 75, 77, 81, 84, 103, 114, 123, 125, 136, 138–​9, 144, 147, 157, 166, 167, 169, 172, 179, 182–​3, 195, 200, 207, 213–​14, 226, 232; American 201; Alt 218; Bangalore (aka Bengaluru) 162, 163, 217, 220; Beat 227; Canadian 201; Chick 101; Independent 149, 207; Indian 151, 153; Indo-​  157; Hindi 149, 151, 155, 225; Hind 151; Post-​rock  165; Prog 58, 218; Progressive 77, 81, 165; Psychedelic 77, 146, 152, 184; Rock and Roll 137; Raga Rock 76, 78, 75, 145, 146; Regional 161–​4; Sufi 166, 181 Rock Machine 149, 150, 151–​2, 156, 163, 165; see Indus Creed Rock ’n’ Roll Renegade 149 RockOn!! 2, 161, 180–​1, 201 Rockschool, Ltd. 155, 199, 200, 232 Rockstar 180–​1, 201 Rock Street Journal 143, 145, 161, 166 Rogers and Hammerstein 103 Roja 112, 123, 209, 210 Rokanuzzaman, Md. 147 Rolling Stone (magazine, US) 203 Rolling Stone India (magazine) 141, 159, 163, 170, 213, 215, 218 Rolling Stones (band) 75, 78, 79, 145 Romance 20, 111, 99, 104

Romance Songs/​Love songs 108, 197 Romantic comedy 97 Romantic Film 107 “Roop Tera Mastana” 72 Roshan, Hrithik 110 Roti 14, 56, 96–​7 Roti aur beti 14 Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) 71, 199, 200 Roy, Jeff 23 Rubina, Shorab 162 Rudra 151, 167 Rudra Vina 47 “Ruk Ja O Dil Diwane” 110 Rush 199 Rushdi, Ahmed 73 Russia 97, 119 Russian 140 Sa Re Ga Ma 190 189, 227 Saaqi 32 Sagoo, Bally 84, 168 saheli 17 Saigal, Amit 143 Saigal, Amit and Shena Gamat 143 Sakata, Lorraine 80, 81 Salaam Namaste 160 Salsa 115 Sam 46 Samadi 43 Samalia 97 Samarkand 12 Sameer 124 Sample 210 Samsara 24 Sancari 47 Sandalwood AKA Kannada Cinema 97 Sandlas, Jasmine 169 Santana 186 Sandhu, Garry 169 Sandhu, Harrdy 169 Sando 161 Sangharsh 99 Sanskrit 15, 24, 44, 90, 166–​7 Sanskritization 24, 90 Sanskrit Text 26 Santoor 116, 121 Sarangi 18, 40, 48*, 52, 113 Sardesai, hema, 101 Saregama 75, 106 Sargam 31, 40, 41, 42, 48, 53, 57; notation 41

Index  •  253 Sarin, Sahil 225, 228, 230n Sarod 113, 121, 82, 78 Sarrazin, Natalie 180, 210 Sas-​bahu 20 Sastri, Syama 44 “Satrangi Re” 112, 128–​33, 207 Satriani, joe 227 “Sattva” 76 Savages, The 140, 163 Sawhney, Isha 90 Saxophone 18, 71, 72, 113–​14, 121, 216 Saxophone Sisters 71; Lavanya, M. S. 71; Subalaxmi 71 Scale 60, 77 Scat 71, 124, 222 Scheduled Castes 14 Scheduled Tribes 14 Science fiction films 98 Scribe 163 Sean, Jay 88 Seeger, Pete 166 Seervai, Goody Sehgal, Baba 89 Selfie 62–​3 Sellout 91 Semi Classical 55, 113 106 Sengupta, Somini 71 Sen, Palash 154–​5, 156 Sen, Sushmit 157 Sequencer 210 Sexual (sexuality) 19, 22, 51, 61, 101, 104, 108, 182, 188, 197–​8, 203, 231; Assault 62; Desexualized 118; Harassment 62, 133n; Innuendo 62; Lyrics 93; Violence 91 Sexual love and desire 51 Sexually Explicit Lyrics 93 Sex workers 23 Sgt. Pepper 180 Shabd Brahman 38 Shades of Women 102 Shadwick, Keith 146 Shah, Muhammad 48 Shah, Shalini 159 Shakti 81, 82 “Shal Pe Matak” 91 Shame 62 Shankar, Ananda 69, 75, 78, 79 Shankar, Anushka 78 Shankar-​Ehsaan-​Loy 107, 123, 124, 180 Shankar Family and Friends 80 Shankar-​Jaikishan 152, 182

Shankar, Ravi 69, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 81, 83 Sharanya, Rene 91 Sharif, Shishunala 216 Sharma, Richa 124 Shastri, Sandeep 198 Shefali, Miss 71 Shehnai 72, 116, 121, 124, 131 “Sheila ki Jawani” 108 Shekere 83 Shergill, Rabbi 184, 227 Shesh Naga 76 Shetty, Shilpa 104 Shillong 141, 145, 148, 161, 224 The Shillong Times 162 Shinda, Sukshinder 168 Shimla 162, 165 Shiva 76, 215, 7, 23, 26, 41, 44, 45 Shivanand, Vighnesh 90 Shloka 157, 166 Sholay 104, 108, 112, 114, 121, 187 Shool 104 Shope, Bradley xiii, 73, 74, 113 Shotham, Suresh 140, 145 Shoveling Smoke 192 Shree 420 115 Shridhar, Neeraj 89 Sikh 7, 137, 140 Sikhism 23 Silence of the Lambs 99 Silent Era 112 Silk Road 10, 12; Sound print 128 Simla Beat Contest 144, 161, 163–​4 Simple Plan 201 Sinatra, Frank 144 “Sinbad the Sailor” 181 Sindhi 56 Sing 104 Sing Dil Se 191 Singapore 166 Singh, Bhagat 137 Singh, Channi 84 Singh, Charanjit 152 Singh, Dilbagh 168–​9 Singh, Iqbal 182 Singh, Malkit 88 Singh, Manmohan 122 Singh, Sukhwinder 124, 129 Singh, Shailendra 168 Singh, Talvin 85 Singh, Yo Yo Honey (aka Singh, Hirdesh) 91, 92 Sinhala 140

254  • Index Sino-​Indian War  100 Sippy, Ramesh 121 Sita 20 59, 197 Sitar 10, 29, 40, 76, 77, 78, 79, 83, 84, 85, 105, 121, 124, 204, 209 Ska 216 Skyharbor 151 Skype 179 Slipknot 201 Slumdog Millionaire 4 Slurs 53, 77 Smith, Crickett 70 Smithsonian Folklife Festival 56 Smriti 15 Snow White and the Three Stooges 103 Social Clubs 74, 182 Social drama 123 Social film 128 Social issues 228; Solfege 40 Social Media vii, x, xi, 6, 62, 67, 155, 164, 179, 181, 188, 191, 200 “Some Peace of Mind” 75 Song and Dance 111, 96–​7, 109–​10 Song Sequence 109 Son of India 100 Sony: Mix 193; Music India 106; Pictures 98; ROX 193 Soundtrack 113, 72, 80, 87, 101, 107, 109, 114, 127, 129, 180–​2, 196, 209 South America, American 121, 168 South Asian-​Candian Music 85 South Hall 84 South India 13 81 South Indian Classical: Anupallavi 43–​ 4; Charanam 43–​4; Kriti 37, 43, 44; Melakarta 43; Pallavi 43–​4 South Indian Rhythm 219 Soviet Union 78, 149 Spanish 131, 140 Spears, Brittney 83 Spectacle 111, 106, 108, 110, 129 Spirit of Women 102 Spiritual enlightenment 75 Sports Anthem 100 Spotify 189, 215 Sravan Barsati 20 Sri 420 (aka shree 420) 72, 115, 119 Sri Lanka 74, 83, 97, 105, 138 Staley, Sam 137 Stamp on You 162 Standardization 54

Standing By 141 87, 148, 153–​4, 156, 157, 162, 172 Starbucks 122 Star screen award 128 Stava, Sriva 20 Steely Dan 220 Stevens, Cat 184 Sthayi 30, 37, 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 53, 57, 119, 120, 121 Sting 214 String Orchestra 125, 182 Strip, The 162 St. John’s Medical College 218 St. Xavier’s Jesuit College 163 Strings 114, 113, 124 Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts 80 Subramaniam, L 75, 79, 80 Sudra 14 Sufi 7, 12, 26, 184, 208 Sufi Islam 58 Sufi Music (songs) 55, 179 Sufi Mysticism 30, 51, 211 Sufi Poets 80, 185; Amir Kushrau 31, 51; Bulleh Shah 31, 184, 185, 211; Farrukahbadi, Anwar 31; Hafiz 31; Khwaja Ghulam Farid 31; Rumi 31 Sufi pop 127, 136 Sufi Saints 31, 56; Qadri, Sayed Abdullah Shah (Baba Bulleh Shah) 31 Sufism 23, 30–​1, 157, 185 Sufi Songs 31, 58, 80, 113, 184, 187, 211 Suhaag 19 Suhasini, Lalitha 145 Suicide 123, 130, 159, 172n, 187 Sultan Iltutmish 12 Sultans 10 Sun of Sardaar 91 Sunday Guardian, The 195 Supa Woman 93 Super hit 97 Surbahar 47 Survivor 203 Sur-​s  56 Swahili 140 Swamp 146 Swar 37 Swer, Mark 161 Sweden 89 Swift, Taylor 200, 201, 203 Sympathetic Strings 82 Symphony orchestra 127

Index  •  255 Syncopation 53 Syncretic (syncretism) 24, 55, 58, 84, 131, 184 Synthesizer 78, 84, 86, 115, 152, 168, 208, 209; Moog 79 Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat 152 Śastra-​s 15 śruti 15, 40 Taan 42, 43, 48, 52, 57–​8 Taaqademy 224 Tabla 10, 29, 31, 46, 48, 52, 76, 79, 81, 83, 84, 113, 209, 212, 215 Tabnur 212 Taco Indiana 122 Tadka 168 Tagore, Rabindranath 29, 55 Taj Mahal Hotel 70, 93n, 137, 182 tala 15, 31, 37, 38, 40, 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 55, 57, 77; cycles 24, 38, 40, 46, 47, 49, 57, 224; ektaal 40; jhaptal 40; kahariva 40; teentala 40 Talkies 111 Tambourine 119 Tamburi (See Tanpura) 77 Tamil Nadu 21, 37, 39, 47, 62, 97 Tamils 140; film 85, 127, 208; folk music 62; songs 55 Tango 209, 115 Tanpura 47, 48, 105, 215 Tape loop 121 Tarab 77 Tare Zameen Par 123 Tarintino, Quentin 108 Tansen, Miyan 10 Taylor, Yuval 195 Techno 126–​7, 181 Teenage Dream 202 Teenagers ix, xii, 103, 192, 198–​9, 201 Tees Mar Khan 108 Telangana 39 Tension 39, 40, 46 “Teri Jai Ho” 101 Terrorism 123 Tewari, Ankur 195 texture 41, 52, 73, 109, 136, 210, 220 thaat 43, 45, 46, 53 Thakur, Mandar 189 Thakur, Paras 225, 230n Thalapati 127 “Thanda Thanda Pani” 89 Tharoor, Shashi 141–​2

The Voice India 191 “The Price of Bullets” 159 Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ) 150, 162, 163, 199, 207, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 230n Thiruda, Thiruda, 209 Thomas, Radha 145–​6 Thomas, Rosie 104 Thompson, Creighton 70 Thompson, Hunter 142 Thompson, Nick 168 Threinody 151 Thumri 37, 45, 49, 50, 50, 51, 104 “Thunak, Thunak, Tun” 86 tilak 12 Timbre xi, 1, 18, 40, 52, 53, 76, 81, 96, 104, 109, 113, 117, 125, 128, 131, 136, 139, 183, 227 Time Stop 126 Times of India 93, 142, 147 Times Music 189 Tin Pan Alley 182 Tinkham, Amy 3 Tips 106 Titanic 203 Tiwari, Ankit 179 Tiwari, Chandan 59 Tiwari, Manoj 61 Toasting 168 Tollywood (aka Telugu Cinema) 97 “Tomorrow’s Decided” 160 Top 20 93; Angrezi 93; Bengali 93, 140; Kannada 93; Malayalam 93; Mirchi 93; Tamil 93 Tootak Tootak Toothian 88 “Top of the Rock” 150 Toronto Star, The 221 Traditional music 55, 109, 169 Trance 125; Goan Trance 136, 151–​2; Trance-​dance  151 Transnational space 84 Transexual 22 Trap 126–​7 Travis, Randy 202 Tribune India 139 Trill 119 Trinca’s 71, 182 Trinidad and Tobago 97 Trinity College London 71, 199, 200, 208, 223, 225 Tripathi, Laxmi Narayan 22 Tritones 115

256  • Index Trombone 113, 121 Trudeau, Justin 168 Trumpet 113, 115, 121, 182, 216 T-​series 106, 196 Tulsidas 26 Tumbi 18*, 86 Tum To Thehre Pardesi 88 Tupac 90, 167 Turino, Thomas 109 Turkic invasion 30 Turks 10 Television: Channels 193; India TV 18 192; Reality 190; Star 192; Zee 190 Twentieth Century Fox 98 Twisted Entertainment 165 Tyagaraja 44 U2 185 UK 69, 78, 97, 129, 137, 139, 150, 168, 169, 198; UK Asian Music Awards 172; UK Pop 84–​5 Umrao Jaan 51 “Under Pressure” 89 UNESCO 24, 149 Union Carbide Factory 152 Universal Music India 90, 165 University of Virginia 80 Up 159–​60 Upanishad 15 Urdu Literature 12; Poet 129; Poetry 32, 100 US 70, 74, 78, 83–​4, 97, 98, 129, 137, 139, 103, 168–​9, 198 USSR 74 Uthup, Usha 139, 146 Uttarakhand 37 Uttar Pradesh 5, 59 Uzbekistan 12 “Vaaqif ” 207, 227–​8, 229 Vaaqif 228 Vadi 43 Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye 26 Vaishno Devi 7 Vaishya 14 Van Halen 159 Vande Mataram 211 Vamp 100, 117 Vande Mataram (album) 88, 211, 229n “Vande Mataram” (song) 55, 211 Vanguards, The 161 Vanita, Ruth 108 Varma, Subodh 198

varna 14 Varnam 37 Vaudeville 113 Vaughn, Stevie Ray 200 Vaz, Gaurav 87, 154–​5, 213, 214, 215 VCD 55 Veda 15, 26, 38, 166, 184; Atharva 24; Rig Veda 24; Sama 24, 38; Vedic chant 24; Vedic Scriptures 24; Vedic Recitation 24; Vedic transmission 24–​5; Yajur 24 Vedic 51 Vedic music 51 Vedic Period 23 Veena 40* 81 Veer Zaara 185 Veerapandiya Karrabomman 11 Venus Entertainment 197 Vetter, Eddie 80 VH1 90, 170, 203 VH1 Supersonic 165 Viacom 98, 191 Vibraphone 121 “Vich Pardesan de” 89, 90 Video 9, 33n, 84–​6, 89, 91, 131, 150, 160, 167, 170, 172, 191–​2, 197, 203, 211; Tutorial 200 “Video Killed the Radio Star” 140 Vietnam War 199 Villain 104, 108, 121–​2 Vinaya 195 Violence 89, 111, 130, 151, 167, 188; Arabic 12, 45, 212 Violin 43, 48, 71, 78, 79, 114, 121, 147, 199, 209, 210, 215 Vipralambha 20 Virah 59 Virmani, Sneha 73, 149, 152 Virwani, Tanuj 197 Vishal-​Shekhar 123, 126, 160, 201 Vishnu 7, 26, 44 Vocables 124 Vocal Harmony 115, 124, 210, 222–​3, 227 Vocal interjections 18 Vocalization 116, 167 Vocal Ornamentation 116 vocal production 52 Vocals 128 Vocal Style 53, 96, 115, 125, 180–​1, 203 “Voice” 160 Voice of America 74, 138 Wade, Bonnie, 48

Index  •  257 Wadia, Farhad 163 Wailers, The 165 Waisa Bhi Hota Hai 186, 201 Waltz 125 Warner Brothers 98 Warrior Heroes 56 “Watch Her” 75 Waters, Roger 214 Waugh, Earle 184 We Are Not Listening 159 “We Are the Champions” 203 Weather Report 199 Weatherford, Teddy 70 Webber, Andrew Lloyd 4, 208 Weddings 20, 62, 86, 107, 109, 162; Mehendi 5; Wedding Bands 5; Wedding Processions 5 Western classical 127, 215, 218 Western European Music 121 Western identity 210 Westernization 114 Western Melodies 105 Western Music xi, 14–​15, 38–​9, 40, 49, 52, 67, 69–​70, 77, 107, 113–​14, 121, 123, 146, 156, 161, 169, 192, 198, 199, 200, 202, 233; Chordal harmony 115; Chord progressions 38–​40, 52, 115, 119, 200; Classical 40, 48–​9, 77, 79, 81, 125, 208; Functional harmony 115, 211, 212; Melodies 39; Tonal 39 Western pop 128; Songs 76, 77, 84 West Side Story 99, 103 Whatshot 225 Where Have All the Flowers Gone (music festival) 166 Whirling Dervish 212 Whites only clubs 70 Whitesnake 149 The Who 199 Wind Instruments 121 “Wings of Fire” 180 Witzel, M 24 Woodstock (Indian) 144 “Woman’s Day” 101

Women 99 Women’s Anthem 100–​1, 102 Women’s Empowerment 100 Women’s folk songs see folk songs Women’s Ornaments 20, 27, 53, 124–​5; Ankle Bracelets 20; Bangles 13, 20; Bindi 20; Kajal 20; Kohl 20; Solah shringar 20; Toe Ring 20 Women’s songs 16–​17, 20 Women’s voices 41 Woodwinds 113, 119, 199 Word painting 119 World Cup 101 World Drums 114 World Music 81 World of Music Art and Dance (WOMAD) 80 World Pop 18 World War II 83 Worship songs 55 Wynk music 188–​9 Xylophone 113, 119 Yagnik, Alka 107, 125, 126 Yash Raj Films 102 “Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai” 31, 115 “Yeh Shaam Mastani” 114, 120 Yoga 24 You Know What British Asians Look Like…This is How it Sounds 89 Young Tarang 86, 88 Youth: Market 191–​2; Music culture, India 179–​204; Rock Anthem 100 YouTube vii, 30, 33n, 55, 133n, 169, 172–​3n, 179, 181, 189, 191, 196, 197–​8, 200–​1, 203–​4, 217–​18, 225–​7, 229n Zappa, Frank 221 “Zarrorat Hai Zarrorat Hai” 89 Zero 125 Zimbabwe Songs 83 Zorastrian 140 Zoroastrianism 23