We all know that the standard of Bollywood music has deteriorated greatly over the years. From Indian raga and folk music based music to medley and fusion, mainly influenced by Western sounds, to the current fad of rap and Sufi, the Bollywood music seems to have plunged to new low, where its all noise and cacophony, but no melody whatsoever!
However, the point that gets missed in all this debate is even steeper decline in the standard of poetry or lyrics, the preferred term used for Bollywood songs. Sahir was the poet first and then a lyricist. So were Shakeel, Majrooh, Shailendra and Hasrat. Sahir beautifully captured the pathos of break up between lovers in his all time hit, “Chalo ik baar phir se ajnabi ban jaaye hum dono ” from hit movie Gumrah, which incidentally is my personal favourite song too! The song further says, “tarruf rog ho jaaye to usko bhulna behtar, talluk bojh ban jaaye to usko todna achha” , which can be loosely translated as ” if familiarity becomes a disease, it deserves to be forgotten; if relationship becomes a burden, it deserves to be severed”. What depth, what profoundness! Compare it with another so called “hit track” from recent Ranbir- Anushka block buster ” Ae Dil hai Mushkil” that says, ” dil pe pathar rakh ke munh pe make up kar liya, mere saiyan ji se aaj maine breakup kar liya ” , which can be loosely translated as , ” by making my heart stronger and putting make up on my face, I am celebrating break up with my lover”. Though translation is hardly required as half of the words are colloquial or English, this sounds so shallow and crass.
It is true that one of the earliest reasons for decline in standard of poetry was the meter being provided to the lyricist in the form of a pre composed tune by the music director, within which the lyricist was required to fit the words, the poets of yore could still manage the challenge by infusing life and feelings into their poetry. Rajendra Krishan wrote, “khuda bhi aasman se jab zameen par dekhta hoga, mere mahboob ko kisne banaya sochta hoga” for Rajendra Kumar starrer Dharti that can be loosely translated as ” God while looking at my beloved from heaven must be wondering did he only create this wonder?” to today’s cheap and crass description of women as namkeen, patakha and what not really that is representative of the new low that Bollywood music has hit. Gulzar has grown old, while Javed Akhtar has gone into hibernation. There are a few good poets in younger lot; hope their creativity is valued and respected by Bollywood, or we shall have to move to private music for melody and substance.