Children of the 80s , in my experience are uniquely orphaned in the matter of a contemporary Hindi film music sound to which nostalgia attaches. One readily encounters fans of the film music of all other decades – music to which they profess that special fondness, loyalty and attachment only possible from extended listening and imbibing during one’s wonder years. Until the 70s, and once again from the 90s onward, this phenomenon is a constant. Only the 1980s generation lack this, in my observation. It is not as though they lack for nostalgia markers – though these are usually located in other cultural spheres – notably Doordarshan serials, Amar Chitra Katha, TV adverts, cricket and, musically pertinent, the non-film ghazal scene. Even the popular film music listened to by this gen appears to move one generation (or more) back or forward, but does not centre principally around 80s fare in the way it ought to have. The reason for this is hardly difficult to fathom. The 1950s and 1970s were in relative terms, the defining and influential decades post independence in the film music scene. They either synthesized and made popular a new sound and style, or brought to the fore several new artists of lasting promise, or both. In relation to these, (purely personal opinion) the 1960s and the 1980s played more the role of followers. They inherited the stalwarts of the immediately preceding decade after a good 10-15 years of these personalities’ composing/singing/writing strength (and usually peak years) were spent. Broadly speaking they did not rewrite or make major alterations to the existing format, nor did they produce game-changing individuals. As such they tended to possess a slightly worn out character in relation to their immediately preceding period. The 1980s was especially disprivileged in inheriting and continuing to engage (in significant capacity) artists whose performing peak was not one but multiple decades past. The legendary composers and writers were either long retired or no more; the popular films of the day had become unsuitable vehicles for quality music – their hand in turn forced by economic considerations, video piracy, changing tastes, rampant plagiarism and the necessity for incorporating greater titillatory character in the songs. In this bleak period, it fell to the lot of a handful of the old guard of composers to provide the occasional pleasing melody in the hands of sensible and sensitive film makers. The middle-of-the-road and arthouse film directors became a more dependable assurance of the quality of their songs, than the composers/singers themselves. Good lyrics, themes, the occasional employing of classical singers and other non-industry staples, newer and fresh voices, and tasteful incorporation of songs in the film – all these followed suit naturally in these niche works. Here is one of my favourites from this category. Sulakshana Pandit sings Indu Jain’s lyrics, set to Kanu Roy’s music. The beautiful 1980s Delhi backdrop in combination with two of India’s greatest actors, in Sai Paranjape’s able hands, forms a superb complement to this minimally orchestrated song.
Khali Pyaala Dhundhla Darpan