An Endemic Feature in Indian Music Programs


By Kollengode S Venkataraman          thepatrika@aol.com

For-profit entertainment programs based on Indian film music are popular, with tickets sold in the thousands in big cities. In these events the emcees go to great lengths to introduce the songs with details and filmi trivia — the year and films in which they appeared, the playback singers, the music directors, the actors who lip-synched for the song… even vividly describing how the song was picturized. One thing they often miss is crediting the lyricists (kavis) who penned these memorable songs.

This was the case in the Sahana-2017 event also for very many songs. In the review two years ago on Sahana’s 2015 fundraiser, the Patrika wrote this (Full review here: www.tinyurl.com/2015-Sahana-ReVu):

“Indian film songs describe different moods — joy, pathos, irreverence, sarcasm, humor, irony, paradoxes, and the dilemmas of life — often conveying great insights into life’s complexities. Some of the really good ones are as good as paid sessions with psychologists. So, lyrics are the heart, soul, spirit, and the very life of [good] film songs… … [Hence] leaving out the names of the lyricists who penned the masterpieces … … while mentioning the names of the films, music directors, and the singers who simply lend their voices… is inelegant… Sahana can correct this quite easily in their future programs.”

Using songs without giving credit to the lyricists is discourteous and unfair to the lesser-known poets. This topic is worthy of a stand-alone article.

We sent the above to Sahana’s Mr. Girish Godbole. His response is given below. Readers can make their own judgment.

“Mr. Venkataraman’s opinion is right that a lyricist (“kavi”) is a key contributor to a song. However, in criticizing the Sahana-2017 event for not mentioning the lyricist of every song, he seems to have missed the point that it was a live entertainment show which was “emceed,”  not “announced.” An emcee’s role is to make an entertaining introduction to the next song while following the theme of the show and linking the various items like a beautiful seamless garland. This is exactly what the emcees of Sahana 2017 Bollywood Show did. The advertised theme of the show was “Shankar Jaikishan to Shankar Mahadevan” —  clearly a theme focused on music composers. The emcee’s narrative mostly talked about the music composers, their styles, their sources of inspiration, etc. In a handful of cases, where it was particularly relevant, the emcees mentioned the lyricist’s name, and in one case even the original lyricist’s name in the original Punjabi song. The rest of the emceeing was appropriately focused on making it funny, entertaining and interesting in line with the theme and spirit of the evening.”      ♣

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