Bollywood singers, artists weigh in on nepotism debate
Following Sonu Nigam’s revelations, various singers and artists have opened about the workings of the Hindi music industry
The suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput has triggered discussions on nepotism and discrimination in Bollywood. Recently, singer Sonu Nigam said in a video that favoritism is prevalent in the music industry. Sonu said that in the future people possibly could hear the news of a singer dying by suicide as well. He also urged the music industry to be kind and humane to newcomers. Following Sonu’s allegations, various singers and artists have opened about the workings of the Hindi music industry.
Singer Jubin Nautiyal said, “We all have to understand one thing, there was a time when there was no Internet. But today, it's more content-driven. Nobody knows but now, even a small song from anywhere can turn out to be a huge hit. Whatever sounds best to the ear, to the whole team of people who are producing the song, is what works eventually."
He added, "You can have favourites but sometimes, when a singer or a composer comes up with a great song, you acknowledge it. You can't deny that, right? Nepotism can be one of the factors that affected the industry in the past, but today, what matters is good content, talented artists and good sound. That's what every music label, director or producer is looking for."
Singer-composer Amaal Malik, who hails from a family of musicians, claimed it's difficult for an industry kid to get recognition.
"First of all, with due respect to my dad (Daboo Malik), he wasn't an ace composer. He never got the success that my uncle did. So it wasn't a phone call that went and someone said, 'Please listen to my son, he is a composer'. He's obviously done his share of songs and he found his little bit of success. When Armaan sang his first song for Vishal Dadlani, he didn't know that they were making Daboo Malik's son sing. He went inside the studio when he was 10-11, sang a scratch and it went on to be part of Bhoothnath. He didn't get the opportunity because he was so and so's kid."
Amaal reasoned that coming from a particular gharana does not guarantee success.
"A lot of people have that notion that it must have been easier for me because I had the Malik tag. But I don't feel it's right,” he said. “With due respect to someone like Ankit Tiwari who leaves everything at home to come and make it big here without any backing, I agree I have an advantage. I know how things work. I have seen the failures of my family members so I know how it would work and that's the only difference. I have been doing it since the age of 19 but I got my first film at 24. Even for that film, my younger brother and my mom went on a film set to meet Salman Khan. We waited for 7 hours until he could hear a CD of our work. We wanted someone to launch our music and maybe just say something if he liked it. Because the music was good, he gave us an opportunity.”
Lyricist Manoj Muntashir said the systems and structures in the music and film industries are vastly different. "The music industry is not just about Bollywood, it's beyond that. So nepotism or dynasticism exists in Bollywood and we have had several debates about that. But in the music industry, there's nothing called nepotism or dynasticism. Take singers of 90s then because if nepotism was prevalent, then only the kids of the popular singers from that generation would have ruled now, whether it's Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik. Then how did we have Rochak, Jubin, Sachet or even Tanishk Bagchi? They are all outsiders. If nepotism chalta, then they would not be here."
He continued: “We, as a bunch of people, are clear testimony to the fact that nepotism doesn't exist in the music industry. In fact, we are doing a huge disservice to people and new talents by propagating fear because now, they will feel our industry is filled with tyrants and they will destroy you. Let's get it clear: there's no dictatorship, no tyranny, no anarchy, no fascism in the music industry. There's no democracy either. Democratic values don't count for great business after all.”