Mo wrote a splendid post about criticism yesterday, in the context of art…. applicable to all kinds actually – how the opinion of an elite few takes precedence over what works for an individual. Music is something I’ve received a lot of judgment over, so I thought its a good time to go on a little journey in time.
Music has always has had this way of evoking nostalgia – I listen to an old track and the associations just start pouring in – when i heard it, where i was, who i was with..and so on. Actually not even the song per se, but the talk about music also sends me on a trip. Over a period of time, it becomes lesser about the way it had made me feel, and behaves more as another addition to a period in time. A function of archiving, I guess. I remember this discussion we had on Twitter a while back. It started out with Kimi Katkar and ended with snake talk, but we did dwell upon Kishan Kumar, and the unforgettable “Acha sila diya” from Bewafa Sanam. That was 1995, perhaps the golden age of Bollywood music in my life.
But the stage was set much before that. Those were the days of Rs.25-40 priced cassettes, depending on the label – T-Series- the friend of the masses, Venus, TIPS etc, and new purchases would be planned as soon as a preview of the next release was heard on the tape between large helpings of Jhankaar beats. Of course that also meant that one bought stuff that no one else would buy – Takkar, Amaanat, Aatish, Guddu..sigh. There were about 4 of us at school who shared an interest in Bollywood music, and therefore its medium of distribution too. Interest would be an understatement since we even used to save up lunch money to buy cassettes. We distributed work according to our preferences of music directors – Anu Malik, Jatin-Lalit, Nadeem-Shravan, Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen etc. So the ardent fans mostly bought their favourites, and the rest got to listen before purchase/recording. I still remember our first argument over who got to take the ‘Baazigar’ tape home first.
On another front, the success of Roja meant that all the ones that followed from Rahman- Pudhiya Mugham, Kizhakku Cheemayile, Gentleman, Thiruda Thiruda, Uzhavan, Duet, Kadhalan etc, all entered my collection.
Good fun, until we split up for graduation courses, and my interest was split between Indi Pop (kick started by a Channel V dance collection, and kept alive by Alisha Chinai, Euphoria, Silk Route, ) and Bollywood, the latter being sustained mostly thanks to their new find – A R Rahman and the “we’re just about getting along” Jatin-Lalit. In Tamil, Rahman continued to rock with Iruvar, Minsara Kanavu, but his focus was clearly Bollywood. The main problem now was that purchases couldn’t be shared, and cassette prices were shooting up. The tiny interest in “Western music” didn’t help, since those cassettes cost much more. But Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, MLTR, Boyzone, Celine Dion etc couldn’t stop me from being the first to buy DTPH from a store in Bangalore. (while on a batch tour) I waited at the store while the cassettes were brought by the distributor. I still remember the shopkeeper’s quizzical look. Fun it was.
It took Goa to initiate me into the world of Floyd, and the heavy metal brigade, though all the earlier favourites played on. I found a kindred Bolly music soul in my room mate, though the bugger never bought any new cassettes, unless it involved substantial usage of Rani Mukherjee in the cover. It was a good bargain, since he had the hardware and I replenished the software regularly.
The work stint back in Cochin almost put me back on track as far as Bollywood music purchase went, though Knopfler matched it in terms of money spent. Hours were spent in Music World. Its thanks to this phase that I have CDs like Paanch. (the ill fated Anurag Kashyap movie), but by that time, I think there were just too many movies coming out to keep track. Also, the plethora of channels ensured that the fun of tracking a cassette release day and buying it on day one was gone.
When I moved to Bangalore, I couldn’t bring my entire collection, but I still brought a few, if only to remind me that once upon a time, life was a series of songs.
These days, while Bollywood still holds sway as far as movie watching goes, in terms of music, I wait for tracks to reach me. Maybe the fun was also in finding new tunes and sharing them. I never could experience that sharing mechanism for non-Hindi tracks, and therefore there’s always a passivity in my music taste. The Eklektic Rock station on Live 365 is changing that slowly, though, making me move beyond the confines of Coldplay, The Killers, The Fray, Springsteen, Daughtry, Green Day, REM and so on…. Sometime back, a friend sent me a few tracks that she thought i’d like. It was fun, the feeling that one has when one discovers an old path.
until next time, we change, the song remains the same…