When “Bandish Bandits” was released on OTT last year, it came as a fresh breath of air for music aficionados. Giving the best of both worlds, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music was a treat for both Hindustani music lovers as well as pop music addicts. Music was always an integral part of Indian cinema, but now the concept of five songs and a plot in Hindi films had a competitor. With the advent of OTT, long-form content has been king. Music has slowly gained prominence in streaming shows, woven as background score or with songs being placed if the script requires.
Amidst dozens of web shows released every month in India, there have been a few that have been able to retain the Indian culture of songs in a story.
In “Little Things” the theme song “Pause”, sung by Prateek Kuhad, was soul-stirring, and stayed with the audience because of Kuhad’s popularity quotient.
“Broken But Beautiful” garnered immense praise for music. The four melodious songs in the series were sung by Akhil Sachdeva, Amaal and Armaan Malik, and Anusha Mani.
“Four More Shots Please!” gave many peppy as well as calming numbers sung by Darshan Raval, Saachi Rajadhyaksha, Medha Sahi, and Zoe Siddharth.
“Fittrat” had a mixed bag of songs by Altamash Faridi, Jonita Gandhi, Sharvi Yadav, and Sandman.
Shankar Mahadevan shares the kind of experience he had while creating music for the web series “Bandish Bandits”.
“It was one of the very important projects in our careers. It took us two years to compose its music. It was a mammoth project. It was like doing three to four films back-to-back. There was a lot of music woven into the script, and the script was developed based on the music. We got this amazing spectrum to compose — from classical to thumri to tarana to pop to virah to music competition to instrumental piece to Rajasthani folk. There were so many variations in one project. Where do you get a chance to experiment so much?” Shankar tells IANS. The trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy will compose music in a slew of upcoming web series.
“Bandish Bandits has some great songs, appreciated by many. This seems to happen a little less with film songs on these platforms,” says playback singer Apeksha Dandekar. She has sung songs in films like “Zubaan”,”Aatma” and “Always Kabhi Kabhi”.
Singer Shilpa Rao, who has sung songs in films “Ludo” and “Mimi”, has upcoming projects with the best digital platforms. She believes that OTT has given a chance to the music industry to create unique music content with the leverage of time in hand.
She says: “It is fun to be part of the digital space. Music has the power to adapt itself. OTT is giving a chance for creators and artistes with the magic of time. Earlier, if in one weekend a film song did not make it then it was finished. We have gone back to the time where people took their own sweet time to like something. It is giving the listeners and creators time to warm up to at least have a feel. I am hoping that this will keep going.”
Shilpa has given hits like “Ghungroo” (“War”), “Bulleya” (“Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”), “Malang” (“Dhoom 3”), “Anjaana Anjaani” (“Anjaana Anjaani”), “Khuda Jaane” (“Bachna Ae Haseeno”), “Javeda Zindagi” (“Anwar”).
Agrees “Indian Idol” singer Abhijeet Sawant: “Musicians have got one more platform to release music. The small music directors can get a better exposure and money for their music.”
Whereas, Apeksha is of the viewpoint: “OTT shows may allow exposure of new talents in music that people may not otherwise hear in theatres. I guess it just opens up the music scene as there is more space to explore more genres, because of the vast amount of shows on OTT platforms.”
Both Shankar and Shilpa are avid watchers of the content on OTT and strongly believe that digital platforms have changed the consumption pattern.
Shilpa says, “Music is an experiential form of art. From the live auditorium performances to the digital platform, music is very malleable. I am an avid watcher of content and I can’t do without one watch a day.”
Shankar believes that music has to match the content on OTT. “Although the series is gripping, I think they can focus more on the musical content because this will be a great opportunity to put out some great music that is going to stay for a very long time. They can have better songs on OTT. I am completely hooked on all the web series that come out of our country like “Mirzapur” or “Family Man”. OTT is an amazing medium,” expresses Shankar.
On OTT, long-form content is the main selling point. The experience in cinema halls is about viewing a song primarily. Listening to a song is more of a personalised experience, which OTT provides. “Cinema music might be a one-time experience, but the main attachment with a song is on the phone when you are driving or when you are at home. It comes down to the fact that people should gravitate to things that they like, not forced to,” believes Shilpa.
However, there is a sect that strongly believes that film music has its own charm and it’s not going anywhere.
Gaurav Balani of “Parikrama” and “Inalab” bands says: “I don’t think OTT can compete with Bollywood. There’s definitely been a shift in the ‘power structure’, but Bollywood music still remains fairly prominent simply due to the kind of promotional reach it contains.”
“I think film songs are still doing well despite the OTT culture and may even provide more accessibility to people. However, I do feel that there is an ambience in theatres that cannot be recreated at home. Also, film songs in theatres tend to get better promotion and exposure as opposed to getting saturated on OTT platforms,” tells Apeksha.
Agrees Abhijeet: “I don’t think OTT has reached to film music level. On OTT the music is purely situational. So, it’s difficult to actually compare film music verses OTT music.”
However, he believes that film music is fading somehow. “Music companies have got another way to earn more money via non-film music. We have to wait n watch till the films are getting released in theatres,” says Abhijeet.
However, Apeksha believes promotion plays an important role in music popularity. “Again, this depends on the promotion that the music receives. In fact, the audience may be broader but I don’t think the music of films can ever really die. Maybe it just takes more of a push to get all the music involved on different OTT platforms noticed.”
“Film music isn’t ‘dying’ necessarily but it’s evolving for sure,” signs off Gaurav.