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Aesthetics is important in music


Do movie composers retain the essential spirit of folk songs when they use them?

The only place you will get to hear pure folk music is when it is sung or played by the balladeers in our villages. Filmmakers feel compelled to add glamour to this music, and they are not particularly concerned about aesthetics. Few film musicians do justice to folk.

What do you say to the fact that lyricists and directors exploit the element of
mischief in folk songs to weave in vulgarity into songs?

Well to start with, the lyrics of a lot of folk songs are quite risquê. This is especially true of wedding songs, the banna banni songs. In fact the kind of everyday cuss words used in villages are often woven into folk songs. But my problem with these songs is the absence of aesthetics in how they are adapted for films. Those who work on these item songs aren't concerned about the nuances of the original works. They want a hit item number at any cost. But without these nuances, you take all the dignity out of folk music.

Folksy item numbers today go beyond just suggestiveness. Does that bother you?

A perfect example of what works for me is say Gulzar sahab's Beedi jalaile from Omkara. Of course, the song is erotic, it talks of the woman's longing for a hulk in the neighbourhood. The fact is wrapped in various metaphors, but no one can miss their real intent. Vishal (Bhardwaj) again is very concerned about the aesthetics of using folk music even when the situation requires some off-colour teasing. My Namak ishq ka is an example. But most filmmakers think that an item number must appeal to the lowest common denominator. So the lyrics are perverted and the dance steps used are equally perverted. So there is perversion of the music as well as perversion of the nautanki dance and costume to add to the whole effect.

Would you agree to sing a song with bawdy lyrics?

As individuals we always have a choice. If I say no, there will be ten others to say yes. But I am not comfortable with songs that lack in aesthetics, so I will always say no to them. Songs like these will always be around and if I want to leave the venture, I have the freedom to do so.

As a woman and singer, do ribald songs bother you - most of them talk of a mob of men circling a solitary woman, a very desirable and inviting one at that?

Again it is a question of choice. Female stars use all manners of justification for doing these songs. Item songs are a way of staying ahead in the rat race. Besides, they are a huge hit at Bollywood shows.

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