MM Keeravani: We don’t have music stars in India, only playback singers - Hindustan Times

MM Keeravani on Indian music scene: We don’t have music stars but playback singers who are dependent on films

Sep 26, 2023 12:06 PM IST

The Oscar-winning composer points out how in India, the process of creating music is divided between people, unlike in west where one person does everything

Oscar-winning Music composer MM Keeravani gained international recognition, and put Indian music on the global stage following his Academy win for magnum opus RRR. He expresses delight that his achievement has served as a catalyst for promoting Indian musicians, particularly regional artistes, who were previously overlooked if they were not associated with mainstream cinema. However, he also expresses disappointment regarding the current state of the music industry, which he says is in a sad state.

MM Keeravani won an Oscar for Naatu Naatu.
MM Keeravani won an Oscar for Naatu Naatu.

“In India, music is still very much about movies, and music artistes are dependent on filmmakers for their work to reach a wider audience,” Keeravani continues, “At the end of the day, it all depends on a film’s success. If the film is a hit, the songs will do well. They do not shine on their own, which is disappointing. We need more and more independent musicians.”

Moreover, Keeravani draws a comparison with the West and points out how in India, the whole process of creating music is divided between people.

“One does music, the other writes lyrics, a third person sings, the fourth would arrange it, and another one features in it. And the one featuring in the video is mostly a film star or a popular actor from any medium. That’s not the case internationally,” he states, and explains, “In their countries, there is one person who does everything — from writing to composing the whole track, and they often become the face of the video, too. That’s why, artistes globally have a huge fan base and people know them well. However, in India we don’t have music stars, but playback singers. That’s the major difference and this situation is not encouraging.”

Though the acclaimed composer acknowledges that things are changing in the industry, the pace is painstakingly slow. “Also, the way music is consumed these days is changing, and we as artistes need to adapt to it. Earlier in the 70s or 80s, it was only about listening the melody. Now people want a visual experience as well. And because it’s more about watching the video of the song, it’s important that artiste become the star of it,” he concludes

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