Bollywood Music: From Darde Dil to Darde Disco

Music is an art that transcends boundaries. It is believed to have existed for about 50,000 years, since the first human civilization, and was used as a method of communication long before the modern day languages came into existence. For the ease of educating musicians, it has been divided into a number of categories on the basis of time periods, regions and genres. Talking specifically about India, the ‘Hindustani Music’ is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world and is divided into two musical houses: Southern Carnatic Music and Hindustani Classical Music. Not delving into too much detail, the Hindustani Music consists of ‘Ragas’ (single melody lines) and ‘Talas’ (rhythm/beats) which have been developed over a period of time. Besides the ‘Hindustani Music’, Indian Music also consists of a wide variety of regional folk music styles.


But again, why exactly am I telling you all this? What does all this have to do with


Bollywood Music? And why does this sound like the beginning of an essay? Don’t worry, I am not writing an essay on music. And I had to inform you about all this because supposedly, the bollywood music that we hear today has its roots in the Indian Hindustani Music and folk music styles. Or does it anymore? Listen to these songs so that you can have a taste of what bollywood music used to be in earlier years.

– Baiju Bawra –aaj gawat mann maro

– Pakeezah – Inhi logon ne

– Anpadh – Aapki nazron ne samjah

Hindi movie songs have been extremely popular since the advent of the Hindi Film Industry (commonly referred to as Bollywood) with the first movie, Alam Ara (1931) containing 7 songs. Over a period of time, movie songs have come to be considered as an integral part for the commercial success of any bollywood movie. Initially, most of the songs that were created used the classical techniques of Hindustani Music and folk music. Movies like Pakeezah and Mughal-e-Azam fall under this category and are still fondly remembered for their classic songs. But with changing times, the trend in bollywood music also changed with a greater influence of western and modern sources. However, this change has become even more significant in this second decade of the 21st century due to the following reasons:

The Yo-Yo wave – Yo Yo Honey Singh has emerged as the most popular and iconic musical figure in India in the past few years. His music is catchy, wordings are derogatory and style is ‘swag’ – all the points that attract the youth and make him an instant hit. Indian population consists of 50% youngsters who like to go clubbing, party and drink; and with songs like ‘Chaar botal vodka’ and ‘Aaj blue hai paani’ they find something they feel connected to, and on which they can dance at the same time!

– Chaar botal vodka

What is Indie? – Unlike in India, in USA most movies do not have any songs. Instead, they have the concept of individual artists who release their albums. In India, there are a number of individual artists and bands such as ‘Medieval Pandits’, ‘Parikrama’ etc. who release their albums but do not get any recognition from the public. Vishal Dadlani made music with his band ‘Pentagram’ which went unnoticed, and as a result he started directing music for movies instead! Indie culture in India was still popular in the 90s but is now viewed as a dying concept.


– Vasuda Sharma (Indie) (Beautiful song)(graduate from Berklee, Boston)


  1. Let’s party – The party culture in the country is growing rapidly. Nowadays people of all age groups want to drink, dance and have a nice time. No one cares about the lyrics or the music. What they do care about is the beat and the ‘hip-hop’ feel.

– Party all night – Yo-Yo


  1. Same old, same old – Everyone likes to hear a soothing, beautiful romantic song from time to time. A song that takes away their worries and calms them down. But in the recent time, such songs have been sparse and difficult to come across and most of them have an uncanny similarity. Whether it is ‘Iktara’ from Wake up Sid (2009), or ‘Tum hi ho’ from Aashiqui 2 (2013), or ‘Galliyan’ from Ek villain (2014) – all songs have a similar musical setup. This creates a need for something new and refreshing.


  1. Why? – A song needs to add some value to the story and the plot. But recently they seem to be forcefully added in the movie for commercial purposes. More and more movies have at least one ‘Item song’ that is added to enhance the glamour quotient of the movie without adding anything to the story. It baffles me how songs like ‘Baba ji ki booti’ and ‘Tharki chokro’ get approval from the censor board!

Everything needs to evolve from time to time or otherwise it will perish. The same is true even for music. But this evolution has been extremely rapid in bollywood, so much so, that it feels like something entirely new and different. I am not scared of change or transition, but what does worry me is the violation of the sanctity of something extremely close to all of us: Music. Music directors should make sure, that while trying to find something new they don’t forget their roots. Moreover, Indian public should also be willing to give a chance to individual artists and new forms of music.


Written By- Milind Vaish


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