There's a song by Blaaze feat Kalyani called Ban the Police doing the rounds on a few music channels. The song is about the corrupt police and mentions the controversial criminal trials of recent times - Jessica Lal, Bilkis Bano, Gujarat riots etc. Is always heartening when music talks about sensitive topics, touches upon social issues. Have always believed that music is not just limited to making people tap their feet, it is a powerful medium to spread information, awareness, emotions. It is sad that in this country, music is ruled by the movies (Will limit myself to the popular music scene - ghazals, religious songs we shall not touch upon here). The evidence is in the successes of Sunita Rao, Baba Seghal, Remo Fernandes which are absolutely nothing compared to that of the Mangeshkar sisters, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Udit Narayan.
Remo is probably known more for the title song of the movie Jalwa and Humma Humma (Bombay) than any of his other efforts. His other efforts include his anti-drugs album Pack That Smack (1986 - didn't know of it either till I looked up Wiki) and also the 1992 Politicians Don't Know to Rock'n'Roll. I think I remember the cover vividly - Remo in a dhoti and topi with an electric guitar. The songs in the album were about the communal violence, politics and AIDS. Everybody wants to uuungh without the fear of AIDS went one song. The lyrics are probably funny bordering on silly but the intent is beyond reproach. Remo didn't want his songs to just sound good, he wanted them mean to something as well. By the way, he received a Padma Shri (The award is fourth in the hierarchy of civilian awards in India after Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan) for Art this year. (Lata Mangeshkar happens to be a Bharat Ratna (2002) and a Padma Bhushan (1999) awardee).
I hope Blaaze's new song gets lots of airtime on the music channels. It is a good song and I want lots of people to listen to it and like it. He also sang the rap song in the Bunty and Bubli movie and is a playback singer for the soundtrack of the new Rajnikant movie - Sivaji:The Boss. He has stated in an interview that his first foray into Bollywood was the East or West song from Judwa for which he did not get any credit. So this man is not new to the Indi-music scene.
Indipop (non-filmi music) is important because it offers an outlet for songs that don't fit in movies. It offers scope to artists to sing about life, problems, people, politics, poetry, philosophy, love without having to confirm to the plot of a movie or be bound by the confines of a movie script. Hindi movie songs are invariably about festivals, friendship, betrayal, happiness, sorrow or are meaningless. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the Kajrare and the Dhoom Machale but I probably wouldn't listen to them a year from now.
Nazia Hasan and Alisha Chinai sowed the seeds for Indipop in the 80s - IndiPakPop would be more accurate since Nazia was from Pakistan but doesn't matter since she was such a big hit here too. Music composer / producer Biddu had a large part to play in the career of these women. Nazia Hasan with Disco Diwane and Alisha with Babydoll.
Indipop bloomed in the 90s with Sharon Prabhakar, Usha Utthup, Lucky Ali (Sunoh), Baba Sehgal (Thanda Thanda Paani - masterpiece!), Shweta Shetty (Johnny Joker!), Daler Mehndi (Bolo Tara Rara - awesome), Sunita Rao, Shaan and Sagarika. These guys took Indipop higher. The introduction of cable TV and MTv helped.
But the 21st century has been so disappointing. The rules of Indipop for this century have been the 3 Rs - Raunchy video, bhangRa, Remix. An Indipop song had to be one or even better all of the three. In fact it's now more about the videos than the songs. In recent times, Indipop has been making famous the people in the music videos and not the person behind the voice - Deepal Shaw, Rakhi Sawant, Meghna Naidu, Mumait Khan, Shefali Zariwala, Negar Khan. I am ashamed to say that I think that I can probably name more models in music videos than the Indipop groups - Euphoria, Bombay Vikings, Bally Sagoo, Indian Ocean, ... (need help here!)
What I am trying to say is that Indipop sees to have stagnated and is going backwards. It's hard to put up a brave front or be optimistic when the success formula seems to be as simple as getting pretty women to dance to just about any song in a pub, in a tub, in the jungle, in the office, at home, in a car wash, in a disco, on a tree and just about wherever possible. Occasionally artists like Blaaze with his Ban the Police, A R Rehman with Pray for me brother offer some hope that Indipop will be revived but its a cruel and one sided battle that these guys are fighting.
I am not a betting man and even if i were one I wouldn't wager that the revival is going to happen any time soon.