Shekhar Ravjiani (SR): Sameer sir, you are the senior-most on this panel, so let’s start it with you and ask you about the state of our music industry today.
Sameer: I think we have changed over time. The kind of music people like, it changes every 10 years. My opinion is to wait and watch. Change has been constant since 1989…
SR: (Cuts in) Change has been taking place every decade.
Sameer: But we will know more about this change only 5-10 years down the line. This period is very crucial. Whenever we compose or write, there is a discussion on whether the song will be liked by today’s audience. It’s a very thin line, so we are never really sure while writing and composing today. There was a time when we were 100 per cent sure about our songs. That’s my opinion about today’s music scenario in our industry.
SR: Kumaar, what changes have you noticed in the last decade?
Kumaar: When I made my debut in the industry, there was a lot of Indian music. Sameer sir wrote almost every song in those days. Theke waale gaana kaha karte thhey unko. Over the last 10 years, I have seen a drastic change in sound, technology and arrangement of music. Today, it’s about that one catchy line that a producer or director demands and it actually affects the selection of songs. When you narrate your lyrics to a composer, he does not choose what is more soulful; he wants what he can sell. Lyrics too have changed drastically over the years. Today, we talk about old songs from 30-40 years ago, like Sameer sir said, maybe in the next 30-40 years, people will talk about today’s lyrics.
Kumaar: (Cuts in) Haan ji, aapne break diya tha mujhe.
SR: Our first collaboration was Zindagi mein kabhi koi aaye na rabba. Today, you have written Baby doll and so many more smash hits. What changes you have seen over the years in the industry, including the way you interact with directors?
Kumaar: I guess the major change is in scripts. Scripts today have less of emotion and are more ‘practical’. Nowadays, catchy lines are locked easily but if you have written poetry, it takes time to convince a director. It ultimately depends on the director and the kind of songs he chooses.
SR: Himesh, you have had back-to-back hits, non-stop, since you started. What has changed when you meet directors now?
Himesh Reshammiya (HR): I don’t think about change. I have always tried doing something new every year. That’s how I have survived and that’s the way my music has grown. So, for me, it’s a very satisfying period in terms of what I have achieved. I see no reason to complain because there is a huge difference in the branding a music director or lyricist used to get in the ‘90s versus today, where we are getting branding almost on par with film stars. There are branded TV shows, commercials, branded songs or videos and there is that much more recall value. So I think this is a time when composers and lyricists are getting plenty of recognition. The only difference is that I have done about 150 films up till now, which I don’t think a new composer will be able to achieve. Also, it will not be possible to do 650 songs during his career because there are so many people right now. That’s the only change – a huge difference in the number of films that a composer or a singer can do at this point in time. If he wants to survive, he has to become exclusive. That will allow him to stay in the industry longer, which was not how it was when I was doing 35 films a year. If I did 35 films a year, there was never a threat that I wouldn’t do well the next year. But now, I don’t want to do more than two films a year.