The latest Film Companion Adda featured leading lyricists Swanand Kirkire, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Varun Grover, Anvita Dutt and Kausar Munir. As part of the conversation, they spoke to Film Companion editor Anupama Chopra about the future of the Hindi film song, and whether the age of streaming means could mean a future without songs in Hindi cinema.
Anupama Chopra: I love the fact that our films have songs. But I see directors becoming uncomfortable with songs and especially lip-sync songs. Some of them want them in the background or not at all. Is there a possibility of a future without songs? What do you see as the future of songs in Hindi Cinema?
Swanand Kirkire: My lyric writer (Anvita Dutt) herself didn't keep a song in her film (laughs). Bulbbul has no songs.
Anvita Dutta: There is one song of which we put two lines in the film.
Kausar Munir: She has moved to the dark side (laughs).
Swanand Kirkire: But this is definitely a solid point to worry about. We are getting less work. Newer directors are not comfortable with lip sync songs, with the idea of a song in their concept of realistic storytelling. Songs are merely becoming jingles for them to attract audiences. But now, even those new songs aren't working so the music companies have decided to remix old songs. The need and demand for new songs has reduced and now the bigger worry is that of streaming platforms, if films are going to be made for them, I don't know what the future of songs are.
There are great songs on streaming. Kausar penned beautiful songs for Guilty on Netflix but you don't get to hear them anywhere and there is no system for them like there there is for theatrical films like cassettes and CDs and now Spotify. So we'll need to develop a culture for how that song can become a hit.
Varun Grover: Right now we're in a transition phase. That's why it feels like that, but I think we'll reach a point where independent songs and independent music will become a bigger thing. It's happening right now and will keep happening as music reduces in films. But I don't think it will ever vanish from Hindi films because it's a part of who we are, and our movies. The only reason I'm in the industry is because I like listening to songs. Songs are a unique factor of Hindi cinema. Some people call it unrealistic, but even the editing and cutting is unrealistic, that's not life. So, it's all justified.
Anupama Chopra: Yeah, it's about an emotional reality. It's not about realism in that sense, it's about an emotional truth.
Varun Grover: I believe that if a film is going to release on one of the streaming platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime, they will also realise the value of songs. Right now, they don't realise it yet but they'll understand that music has the power to get audiences. So I think they will bring back songs and find a way to promote them. Since most of the stories that we tell are love stories, songs will be required, and we will write love songs.