INFORMATION

Bollywood songs, more formally known as Hindi Geet or filmi songs, are songs featured in Bollywood films. Derived from the song-and-dance routines common in Indian films, Bollywood songs, along with dance, are a characteristic motif of Hindi cinema which gives it enduring popular appeal, cultural value, and context.[1] Hindi film songs form a predominant component of Indian pop music and derive their inspiration from both classical and modern sources.[1] Hindi film songs are now firmly embedded in North India’s popular culture and routinely encountered in North India in marketplaces, shops, during bus and train journeys, and numerous other situations.[2] Though Hindi films routinely contain many songs and some dance routines, they are not musicals in the Western theatrical sense; the music-song-dance aspect is an integral feature of the genre akin to plot, dialogue, and other parameters.[1]: 2

The first song recorded in India by Gauhar Jaan in 1902 and the first Bollywood film Alam Ara (1931) were under Saregama, India’s oldest music label owned by RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group.[3] Linguistically, Bollywood songs tend to use vernacular Hindustani, mutually intelligible to self-identified speakers of both Hindi and Urdu, while modern Bollywood songs also increasingly incorporate elements of Hinglish.[4] Urdu poetry has had a particularly strong impact on Bollywood songs, where the lyrics draw heavily from Urdu poetry and the ghazal tradition.[5] In addition, Punjabi is also occasionally used for Bollywood songs.

The Indian music industry is largely dominated by Bollywood soundtracks, which account for nearly 80% of the country’s music revenue. The industry was dominated by cassette tapes in the 1980s and 1990s, before transitioning to online streaming in the 2000s (bypassing CD and digital downloads). As of 2014, the largest Indian music record label is T-Series with up to 35% share of the Indian market, followed by Sony Music India (the largest foreign-owned label) with up to 25% share, and then Zee Music (which has a partnership with Sony).[6] As of 2017, 216 million Indians use music streaming services such as YouTube, Hungama, Gaana, and Saavn.[7] As of 2021, T-Series is the most subscribed Youtube channel with over 170 million subscribers…

 

Hindi film songs are present in Hindi cinema right from the first sound film Alam Ara (1931) by Ardeshir Irani which featured seven songs. This was closely followed by Shirheen Farhad (1931) by Jamshedji Framji Madan, also by Madan, which had as many as 42 song sequences strung together in the manner of an opera, and later by Indra Sabha which had as many as 69 song sequences. However, the practice subsided and subsequent films usually featured between six and ten songs in each production.[1]: 20

Right from the advent of Indian cinema in 1931, musicals with song numbers have been a regular feature in Indian cinema.[9] In 1934 Hindi film songs began to be recorded on gramophones and later, played on radio channels, giving rise to a new form of mass entertainment in India which was responsive to popular demand.[9] Within the first few years itself, Hindi cinema had produced a variety of films which easily categorised into genres such as “historicals”, “mythologicals”, “devotional, “fantasy” etc. but each having songs embedded in them such that it is incorrect to classify them as “musicals”.[1]

The Hindi song was such an integral features of Hindi mainstream cinema, besides other characteristics, that post-independence alternative cinema, of which the films of Satyajit Ray are an example, discarded the song and dance motif in its effort to stand apart from mainstream cinema[1]

The Hindi film song now began to make its presence felt as a predominating characteristic in the culture of the nation and began to assume roles beyond the limited purview of cinema. In multi-cultural India, as per film historian Partha Chatterjee, “the Hindi film song cut through all the language barriers in India, to engage in lively communication with the nation where more than twenty languages are spoken and … scores of dialects exist”.[10] Bollywood music has drawn its inspiration from numerous traditional sources such as Ramleela, nautanki, tamasha and Parsi theatre, as well as from the West, Pakistan, and other Indic musical subcultures.[11]

For over five decades, these songs formed the staple of popular music in South Asia and along with Hindi films, was an important cultural export to most countries around Asia and wherever the Indian diaspora had spread. The spread was galvanized by the advent of cheap plastic tape cassettes which were produced in the millions till the industry crashed in 2000.[9] Even today Hindi film songs are available on the radio, on television, as live music by performers, and on media, both old and new such as cassette tapes, compact disks, and DVDs, and are easily available, both legally and illegally, on the internet.[1]

Style and format
The various use of languages in Bollywood songs can be complex. Most use variations of Hindi and Urdu, with some songs also including other languages such as Persian, and it is not uncommon to hear the use of English words in songs from modern Hindi movies. Besides Hindi, several other Indian languages have also been used including Braj, Avadhi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Bengali, and Rajasthani.

In a film, music, both in itself and accompanied with dance, has been used for many purposes including “heightening a situation, accentuating a mood, commenting on theme and action, providing relief and serving as interior monologue.”[11]

In a modern globalisation standpoint, Bollywood music has many non-Indian influences, especially from the West.[12] Many Hindi film music composers learned and mimicked Hollywood’s style of matching music to scene atmospheres into their own film songs, the result being Bollywood music. These songs can be considered a combination of Western influences and Hindi music.[13]

Production
Songs in Bollywood movies are deliberately crafted with lyrics often written by distinguished poets or literati (often different from those who write the film script), and these lyrics are often then set to music, carefully choreographed to match the dance routine or script of the film. They are then sung by professional playback singers and lip-synched by the actors. Bollywood cinema is unique in that the majority of songs are seen to be sung by the characters themselves rather than being played in the background.[citation needed] Although protagonists sing often, villains in films do not sing because music and the arts are a sign of humanity.[14] In Western cinema, often a composer who specialises in film music is responsible for the bulk of music on the film’s soundtrack, and while in some films songs may play an important part (and have direct relationship to the subject of the film), in Bollywood films, the songs often drive large-scale production numbers featuring elaborate choreography.

The key figure in Bollywood music production and composition is the music director. While in Western films, a “music director” or “music coordinator” is usually responsible for selecting existing recorded music to add to the soundtrack, typically during opening and closing credits, in Bollywood films, the “music director” often has a much broader role encompassing both composing music/songs specifically for the film and (if needed) securing additional (licensed) music. In this sense, a Bollywood music director also plays the role of a composer and music producer.

The lyricist of Bollywood songs is less likely to be the same composer or music director, as Bollywood films often go to great lengths to include lyrics of special significance and applicability to the film’s plot and dialogue, and/or the words of highly regarded poets/lyricists set to music written specifically for such words in the film, as noted above.

Bollywood film songs have been described as eclectic both in instrumentation and style.[15] They often employ foreign instruments and rework existing songs, showing remarkable inventiveness in the reinvention of melodies and instrumental techniques.[16]

Bollywood film songs often tend to be accompanied by expensive music videos. Some are among the most expensive music videos of all time.[17] The most expensive Indian music video is “Party All Night” (for the 2013 film Boss), which cost ₹60 million ($1.02 million) to produce.[18] Adjusted for inflation, the most expensive Indian music video was “Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya” (for the 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam), which at the time cost more than ₹1.5 million[19] ($320,000),[20] equivalent to $3 million (₹210 million) adjusted for inflation.

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