Fighting stereotypes, reinventing music
Songs have always been an integral part of Bollywood movies regardless of genre, so much so that a movie is considered incomplete without them. Sometimes it’s just to entertain the audience, while other times it’s used as a narrative.
However, in recent years things have changed drastically in the world of rhythm. Remixes and remakes of old classics replaced the original songs as filmmakers began to play it safe and invest their money in “tried and tested” formulas. Groovy numbers and article songs took away the charm that Bollywood was primarily known for, and the music eventually became a mere tool to promote films before their release. Bollywood songs today don’t have to have meaningful lyrics or be perfectly suited for film, all filmmakers require is that the songs have mass appeal.
In the midst of it all, director Anubhav Sinha attempted to break down existing stereotypes through his recent project, “Anek,” by weaving the film’s story and music together.
The film’s musical album includes a Kashmiri song, a Naga song, two English songs by Neha Karode and a Hindi rap song sung by Sunidhi Chauhan. The old tracks were created by a group of indie and folk musicians.
Neha Karode’s songs, titled ‘O Mama’ and ‘Rabbit’, not only proved to be a breath of fresh air for listeners, but also added to the beauty of the setting in which the story was told.
The talented singer spoke exclusively with ‘Millennium Post’ about the story behind her two ‘Anek’ songs, her journey as a musician and singer, and more.
Neha, who has been running her “YouTube” channel since 2019, is known for creating Raag-oriented creative fusion music as part of the “Bandish Based Originals” series. His musical style is what attracted music director Anurag Saikia. “I had been following the work of music director Anurag Saikia for a while and wanted to collaborate with him. I covered one of his songs and contacted him. Fortunately, he heard it, liked it and asked me if I wanted to try singing. something for him. He understood my singing style and scale very well and made me dub “Oh Mama”, which was written by director Anubhav Sinha. It went well and then they gave me another song, ‘Rabbit,’ in the movie too,” Karode shared.
‘Anek’ is a film about the conflicts that exist between the North East and the rest of India. For the project, Music Director Anurag Saikia utilized his Northeastern roots by seamlessly fusing many local instruments into the soundscape, making it as musically and culturally sound as possible.
While Sinha’s songwriting was an homage to the rebellious and soulful tracks of Bob Dylan and “The Beatles”, Karode channeled the influence of one of his idols, Joan Baez, into the tracks.
She has also proven her versatility by performing in the R&B and ‘Rock’ genres, which are radically different from her musical endeavours, featuring age-old ragas and bandits based on Hindustani classical music.
Sharing the story behind the recording of ‘O Mama’ and ‘Rabbit’, Neha said, “Anubhav sir wanted to bring revolutionary western music into the ring that has become a huge part of pop culture over the years. There are many parallels between the types of songs “The Beatles”, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and others were writing about peace and the message of “Anek” It was a film about identity and inclusion. Having songs in Hindi, English, Naga and Kashmiri was also symbolic of that.”
“I thought it was a risk that only someone sure of their subject could take. The songs weren’t just included as breaks in the narrative or for separate promotional and marketing purposes. These songs were all used as devices to move the narrative forward. I thought it was refreshing and set a good precedent for future movies,” she added.
Neha Karode’s musical versatility is influenced by her childhood.
“My parents are big music lovers, so I grew up listening to all kinds of music, from ghazals to rock. and performing in school musicals I started my training in Hindustani classical music when I was 12 I finished my Prabhakar in college and started making my own songs. As film music is huge in India, it kind of became part of my musical dream to do some reading for films as well. My move to Mumbai after college was almost entirely driven by my desire to sing for movies,” she shared.
Neha added, “I started my channel ‘YouTube’ about four years ago to reach more people and took small steps in creating singles. Last year I started a project independent called ‘Bandish Based Originals’, where I take bandish from various raags and give them a more personal and contemporary context.”
As a musician, Karode attributes her creative process to her “subconscious” mind.
“Once you start writing music, the process becomes a constant. Whatever I do, there’s always a melody brewing in the back of my head, and it’s at unexpected times that it clicks, and I quickly record a voice note so I won’t forget it before I get to the computer.”
“While I’d love to take creative credit for writing music inspired by different genres, I think the subconscious is where a lot of it happens. Because we listen to different genres and artists all the time. , the mind begins to keep track of beats, sound processing and riffs. My mind subconsciously does half the work before I sit down to consciously work on something. Writing a song is my most precious moment because writing is what makes or breaks a song. You have to work on the same with the topics of human emotions, but to say something new every time and reach for that thought is a very beautiful experience.”
When it comes to creating music, Neha enjoys being in control of her independent music, although she finds it “fun” to work on songs for Bollywood films.
“I love having absolute creative control over my indie music, so it both reflects my personality and sparks stories that I want to tell. But getting out of my comfort zone and becoming different characters that often have different emotions from me is a super fun challenge. when i make music for mainstream bollywood movies i like it just as much!
“Indie songs in India, compared to mainstream songs, are still lagging behind in terms of popularity and growth. But according to the singer, it’s ‘only a matter of time before they become more large”.
“Bollywood music is constant in most of northern India and regional film music is also huge in Bengal, Punjab and southern states. of younger audiences, but is not as accessible across geographies, levels and age groups as film music. However, it is only a matter of time before it gets bigger. Even among playback singers, the release of independent singles and collaborations are becoming increasingly popular. So the style of the releases and of the independent music ladder is getting bigger and bigger every day,” she said.
“I just released the fifth song of ‘Bandish Based Originals’, which is based on the bandish ‘Raag Malkauns’ with the amazing Abhay Jodhpurkar. I have a few singles and movie songs scheduled but I can’t talk about them yet. because things are always a bit unpredictable, especially in the cinematic space,” Neha said before signing on.