That most commercial music in India stems from Bollywood is a fact. Bollywood music caught the nation’s attention, making people laugh and cry along with their favourite superstars. No one wondered why all the actors seemed to sing with the same voice. In fact, in the early days of cinema, most people didn’t even know what the actual singer looked like.

The role of music in Bollywood movies

Songs are integral to the plot, and very often push the story forward in some way. Of course, a well-placed item song can also do wonders for box office collections. Most film songs use the language as it’s spoken – colloquial Hindi with elements of Urdu, Punjabi, English and other languages.

Indie musicians sometimes call it “Big Bad Bollywood” – the thing that takes the spotlight away from new and fresh music. However, the truth is that Bollywood is not just a genre in and of itself. It encompasses all other forms, too.When a trend or style of music becomes popular, it finds its way into Bollywood. Whether it’sbhangra, rap, classical, devotional, or Rabindra sangeet, the industry has had it all. Trends may change, but the industry has remained strong and will continue to grow.

Being a Bollywood singer isn’t an easy thing. Here’s what it takes:

  1. You need to be able to sing songs across ranges and genres and learn them very quickly. 
  2. You need to be able to take a music director’s idea and make it your own, while still representing the actor who portrays the song on the screen. 

    For those to aspire to be Bollywood singers, there is no surefire way to enter the industry (though reality shows may claim to be the way – just look at how many contestants are churned out every year and see how many are able to make careers in the industry).  It is, however, very helpful, if you want to have a sustained career, to have a strong foundation in some style of music.  Many of the top Bollywood singers have a background in Indian Classical music and insist that regular practice and skill building is critical.

(The authors are Bindu Subramaniam and Ambi Subramaniam, Cofounders – SaPa).

More at SaPa:

If you’d like to learn to sing your favourite Bollywood songs, or hear about the musical career of Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam, sign up here for our self-paced course!

SaPa covers a variety of topics – from the importance of lullabies to understanding when your child should start learning music. Read them all, and many more, on the SaPa blog.

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