In India, a film without a song is seldom heard about and since the very early days of Indian cinema. playback singers have played a key role in the success of a film. Often, a film fades from memory and enters the pages of history, but its songs remain evergreen. The film industry in India has been a fertile, rewarding ground for many playback singers who have created new trends in singing and naturally, a huge fan following. Bollywood can boast of some of the most talented playback singers who with their immense class and sheer aura have taken the whole experience of viewing Indian films to a new high. Singers like Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Kumar Sanu etc in the male category of playback singers have carved a permanent place for themselves through the decades with their mesmerising voices and still continue to enthrall millions of fans. Similarly, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik etc have touched the heartstrings of millions with their voices and the manner in which they have rendered songs.
These singers have produced some of the most magical singing in the history of Indian cinema, so much so, that playback singers have always been taken on equal terms with top notch actors and actresses – after all, it is their voices and the songs they sing that create a very special magic in films. What about the new generation of playback singers in the Indian film industry ?The new generation has also produced some talented singers who have made a mark for themselves. Sonu Nigam, for example, has received a lot of praise and popularity in the industry.
Shaan came into the limelight with his album ‘Tanha Dil’ which was liked by all sections of people and specifically touched the hearts of the youth. The album went on to be a super hit. Mohit Chauhan is another name which has secured a large fan following. His songs in the film ‘Rock On’ in specific were high on the popularity charts. Javed Ali is another singer who has come up in the starry ranks with his remarkable performances in Hindi films. He has worked under the able guidance of A.R.Rehman and produced some amazing songs. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who is the nephew of the great sufi singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, occupies a significant place in the industry with his spell binding singing. He has been very successful in the industry and his performances have ‘blown’ the hearts of many.
Kailash Kher too is a singer whose soulful singing has touched the hearts of people. His album ‘Kailasa’ was a big hit and strengthened his claim to being a singer of the highest stature. Shankar Mahadevan’s magical singing is no secret either. His style of singing and music has been very influential and passionate. Among female playback singers, Shreya Ghosal is considered a very soulful singer. She has been rated as one of the best singers amongst the present new generation of playback singers. She has sung some of the most beautiful songs that have won a lot of acclaim from fans. Sunidhi Chauhan came into the lime light with her song ‘Ruki Ruki Si Zindagi’ in the movie ‘Mast’ and she never looked back from then on. She has sung many songs and has gained recognition from viewers and music lovers across the country. Richa Sharma is another singer who has created vibes with her style of singing. Her song ‘Sajda’ from the film ‘My Name Is Khan’ gave a clear picture of her versatility as a singer. She has been a star performer for some time now.
But the question that arises is whether the songs sung by the new generation of playback singers will be heard after 30 or more years or will they be forgotten ? The songs which were sung in the decades gone by are still being heard by all age groups with a lot of passion and verve. The passage of time has not dulled them. It is felt by discerning critics and fans that the songs of the new generation are popular for a few years and then fade away, while the songs which were sung decades ago are not just remembered but very much ‘alive’ today. This is a matter which should be a cause of worry for the new generation of playback singers, lyricists and music directors in Bollywood. It is also an exciting challenge and the final judges will, naturally, be music lovers and film lovers alike.