When Farhan Akhtar recently announced a collaboration with Kerala indie band, Chai Met Toast, for his directorial Jee Le Zaara, it was a clear indication of independent musicians making their way to glory in Bollywood. The pandemic served as a blessing in disguise for the independent musicians as they churned out music that was well accepted by the music aficionados. Currently, there are hundreds of artistes who are winning hearts with their experimental music. There are several Prateek Kuhads that have emerged in the independent space in recent times. The popular indie artistes scoring the charts are Ritviz, Raghav Meattle, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Nucleya, Taba Chake, Kanisk Seth, Shirley Setia, Kavya Trehan among many others ruling the indie music segment. There has been an upward rise of independent musicians in India as compared to Hindi film music in the pandemic.
Singer Papon believes the spike in independent artistes is due to the shutting down of cinemas. “Everything was shut down from film music to cinema in the pandemic. And this was the time when a lot of musicians created independent music. I myself have created a lot of independent music during this time putting it out slowly one by one. It has been a blessing in disguise for me,” Papon said. The Assamese singer has given hit songs like Jiyein kyun and Moh moh ke dhage to Bollywood. He has a band, Papon and The East India Company, where he creates experimental folk music.
Agreed Benny Dayal, “Yes, there is an emergence of independent music in the pandemic, compared to films because films are not being able to release in theatres. Independent music is making its way right now pretty quickly. It had to happen. Having a music industry where musicians are the face of their own music is very important in our society.” Benny is a prominent multilingual playback singer and also has an independent band, Funktuation. He has songs like Pappu Can’t Dance, Kaise mujhe, Rehna Tu, Daru Desi, Lat Lag Gayi to his credit.
Singer-composer Akhil Sachdeva who garnered recognition through his song Tera Ban Jaunga in Kabir Singh, feels, “definitely, there is an emergence in independent music as compared to Hindi film music”. Akhil said, “I feel an artiste needs independence and the way he wants to express his feelings through his music. I agree films give a wider audience but to keep waiting for the films and where you can’t do the song the way you want to, it comes with its own baggage.”
The boom in independent music has opened doors for many opportunities for artistes. While the lines are blurring, a lot of Bollywood singers have started their own labels and a lot of independent artistes are being welcomed in Bollywood with open arms. Akhil added, “Bollywood is ready for acceptance of new sounds. The presence of independent musicians in the film industry has become wider. Both the things are hand in hand.”