There are more remixes than original songs in Bollywood movies but singer SONU NIGAM is up for the revival of ghazals in a quirky style. He tells SANGEETA YADAV how he is also enthusiastic about extending support to the growing underground rap music culture
Call it a fad to promote Bollywood movies or the revival of classic numbers for the GenX, the remix of old songs have become a regular thing. So much so that most of the songs getting nominated for awards are remixed numbers.
Sonu Nigam, who will be the hosting Mirchi Music Awards this year, says: “It is a sad state of affairs to have lack of creativity and innovation in the music industry. But, one should not be complaining. If I am a true artist and I am given the opportunity to recreate something, it is my duty to give good music. Recreation of old songs comes with a lot of advantages. The generation gets the exposure of peppy classic numbers which would have never been heard by them. And music composers and singers get to use their creativity to revive the popular songs of the golden era,” Nigam opines.
With this intent, 45-year-old singer through Season 8 of Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged, is bringing back the ghazal genre, but with a twist. “When we got a chance to work with Royal Stag Barrel Select MTV Unplugged, we made sure that something classy and divine comes out from us. Ghazals is the purest and richest form of music but it is disappearing. For good music, it is important to listen to the rich musical heritage we have in the form of ghazals, classical and retro songs. I have grown up listening to ghazals of Begun Akthar, Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udaas, Talat Aziz and others. Today’s generation is deprived of this rich genre. So we thought of bringing out the ghazal back into mainstream,” says Nigam, who recently performed in Delhi.
A lot of work has gone behind bringing the best of ghazals. “One of the geniuses in the industry Anurag Saikia from Assam, who has composed music for Karwaan and Mulk, has recreated ghazals. The surprise element is, every song has been made in the form of a prayer. It was a smooth run for me because I had heard these ghazals before. I will look at this work with a lot of reverence in my life,” Nigam tells you.
He believes that the creativity is fuelled with the freedom to do what you want to, keeping in mind the responsibility and limits. “When you are in a creative field, freedom lets you enjoy the work process instead of being in a state where you are told what to do and how to do it. Creative field should not be controlled and on the music front, you seek for what you want to do and take your own decision keeping the integrity intact,” Nigam says.
It is not just the remixes but films like Gully Boy is promoting out and out rap music in its underground format in India. “When rap music was pursued by Honey Singh, Raftaar, Badhshah and others, it became a huge hit among the youth. I saw a new wave setting in in the Indian music scene. Rap artists are also talented and have their ways of expressing their thoughts. For them, rap is like food for thought. Everyone has a forte and what Badshah, Naezy & Divine, and other rappers are doing, other singers might not be able to do it. So we have to respect everyone,” Nigam says.
Where some people look down on this genre and find it vulgar and derogatory, Nigam feels that it is freedom of choice to listen to it or not.
“I feel people should be given the choice of listening vulgar songs or not. You can’t control people and their thought process. But nothing should be derogatory, like calling people names and making fun of them. I am against that,” Nigam says.
Most of the music is primarily created for Bollywood films, so one wonders if Bollywood can survive without them.
“Let’s leave it to time and destiny. At this time, music is essential to promote a film. But times will change and there will be more independent music which we are gradually getting with YouTube and other platforms. We can now reach out to the audience worldwide. So the good times are coming. We just need to team up and work towards it,” Nigam says.