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Home > India > Movies > Bollywood News

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'For independent artistes, music is dead'

Abhilasha Ojha | July 08, 2008 13:17 IST


Rabbi

Rabbi may have released his second music album recently but he is clearly uneasy about the current music scenario. It may be saying a lot, considering this one is an independent music album, a genre that's almost dead in our music industry. But Rabbi's new body of work, Avengi Ja Nahin, is indeed a revolution.

Even with his first self-titled album, the singer had ended up creating a cult following, giving birth to what his fans call Rabbism. Now, like his debut fare, his second album (released two weeks ago) also resonates with lilting melodies produced by string guitars, bass and drums, unplugged style, along with some very thoughtful lyrics.

On his part, the singer, despite being happy with the response to this new work, says that the music industry is in a state of flux. "There's absolutely nothing that our industry offers to independent artistes. It wasn't so in the mid 1990s when albums were getting released, music channels were giving our videos decent airtime, and companies were willingly investing money," he says.

Somewhat perturbed by the present state of affairs, this one-film music director (Delhii Heights) admits candidly, "I might go up to a Bollywood producer and get into music direction for films simply because I may not have too many options left.

"Independent artistes are rarely promoted and film music takes up every little space on channels. My video was hardly aired on the channels. For independent artistes, music is dead and buried, and I've actually been singing at its funeral," he adds.

While Rabbi's right about the music industry, it's somewhat of an irony that his second album has been released by Yash Raj Music. Though no longer a bankable name in the film production circuit given its spate of flops recently, Yash Raj's music label will ensure a wider audience for Rabbi's work what with the production house's vast distribution network and capacities. That apart, Rabbi's also landed himself a plum deal with Nokia releasing Avengi Ja Nahin on its N series mobile phones.

All this is a sea change from 2003, when Anand Surapur promoted Rabbi's first album through his label, Phat Phish Records. There was a good video, with decent airtime, for the music channels. But the album relied more on word-of-mouth publicity than heavy-duty selling.

It is precisely the logistics of 'selling' his work now which has made Rabbi increasingly uneasy. "I'm a musician, I honestly don't believe in visuals. When my song Bulla was released, I had no say in how Anand perceived the video. Even this time, I didn't interfere in the music video of Avengi Ja Nahin." He admits that he's uncomfortable with all the 'skin show' that his new music video showcases.

"Whatever happens in the social sphere, in society, affects me and I react musically to these issues," explains Rabbi, adding that his song, Bulla, for instance, was written with the high rate of female infanticide in mind.

Pagri Sambhal Jatta, on the other hand, looks at what Rabbi calls 'cultural bullying and dominance.'

"I have been stopped in London [Images], singled out at international airports because of my pagri," he adds. The turban, in his view, "is a symbol of culture, a reason why this song was written."

Considering that the artiste believes that language and art can be used as forms of protest, considering also that the singer, through his album, protests against increasing globalisation, Rabbi admits that it's unsettling to be a part of music videos that he can't identify with. An armchair audience member till now, Rabbi says he'll find a way to get involved in the making of music videos which showcase his craft in the future.

By his own experience in the music industry, Rabbi agrees that popular Indian music is in the hands of Bollywood now, a worrying thought for everyone. "You'll find newer, fresher voices singing but they'll be nothing but empty, hollow songs. Imagine, we'll be part of music where no one speaks their hearts out. Ours will be a homogenised society, completely controlled by the moneyed lot," he says.

In such an 'empty society,' Rabbi says he's been lucky not to have compromised on his music. "There's got to be zero interference when I'm composing. At the same time, this time, I wanted to understand how the big guys [Yash Raj] work and their philosophy behind supporting the music that I create," he says.

So far, he's happy with the manner in which they've collaborated. "I'm excited to raise my own level of performance and I'm looking forward to some exciting live shows and activities surrounding my work," he says. Keep listening.

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