Mumbai FM players clear stand on Marathi music; musicians still unhappy
MUMBAI: Irked by the fact that most of the radio stations in the city refuse to give air time to Marathi music, political party Shiv Sena on Saturday, issued a warning to all FM players in Mumbai to start airing Marathi songs within seven days or else 'face the music.'
Sena Chief Bal Thackeray in a statement said, "It has been noticed that many FM channels do not play Marathi songs. They should start airing them in a week or else Sena would launch an agitation." Fresh media reports have also stated that Shiv Sena staged a demonstration in front of the offices of Red FM and Radio Mirchi on Monday evening for the issue
Reportedly, the statement was issued by Thackeray after Marathi musicians Mayuresh Pai, Kaushal Inamdar, Mandar Gogate and Chandrashekhar Sane approached him. Following the Sena, the MNS has also jumped onto the bandwagon to support Marathi music being aired on radio channels.
Clearing the air on the issue Kaushal Inamdar says, "Our basic aim to approach them was not to ask them for help but to make them aware about the policy that the radio stations in the city have against the playing of Marathi music. Neither the common folk nor the government authorities are aware that the radio stations have such a policy as to not air regional Marathi music. Such policies are unacceptable and we want them to wake up and address the issue."
"Radio stations in Tamil Nadu cannot afford not to play Tamil music. Similarly, in Bengal the radio stations have to play regional Bengali music so why is that the capital of Maharasthra cannot play its regional Marathi music," questions Inamdar. "As a Marathi musician if I want to survive how do I do it if the so called 'local medium' doesn't help me in anyway. It is a sad state of affairs if I cannot exist by making music in my mother tongue."
When asked if there is a market for Marathi music in a metropolitan city like Mumbai, Inamdar defending his stand says, "It's a lie that there is no market for Marathi music. Musicians like Ajay Atul are doing well, Marathi movies are viewed everywhere and the music is equally enjoyed, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Marathi was one of the most rated program. Only when people are exposed to the music will its demand increase. We are not asking the FM players to turn into a Marathi channel but give it a fair amount of air play that it deserves."
When contacted about the new development, radio stations had a different tune to sing. Most of them announced that they already play some amount of Marathi music where as others said they are in the process of starting to air it. Players like Radio City have nine stations in Maharashtra and in the interiors they already play Marathi content where as others like Radio Mirchi have undertaken Marathi band hunts.
Talking about the amount of airtime Big FM gives to regional music, the station's programming head Viplove Gupte said, "At Big FM, we have always believed in localizing our content. We do not replicate the same programming across our network, rather we tailor it to suit local tastes and preferences. Each station across our 45 Station network plays content in local languages.
The Mumbai station is no different, and given the vast Marathi populace, we already have a very successful show called 'Masala Chaha', which airs every Sunday morning and is a huge hit! I host the show myself and have had some excellent talent from the Marathi fraternity grace the show including the likes of Mahash Manjrekar, Shreyas Talpade, Upendra Limaye, Sachin Pilgaonkar and several others."
Radio One has also recently added a dedicated Marathi music show to its offering. Its Mumbai station head Bavesh Janavlekar says, We were in the process of a complete makeover and had planned a weekly show for the top 13 Marathi songs along with our Play Your Music Day initiative as a part of the same. We recently announced Play Your Music with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and from the 18th we will begin this top 13 Marathi song special. We also have a Marathi RJ who will host this show. At Radio One, we strongly believe that good quality music has no boundaries and no genres. We are India's first music station which promotes different genres of music along with the popular Bollywood music. We have always believed in giving our listeners quality music which exists across genres. Being a Mumbaiya music station, we would never ignore Marathi audience base....
Hence where some stations claim to air Marathi content Inamdar disagrees and calls it sugar coating. "Most of these stations who claim to play Marathi music air it in the wee hours of the morning. Who listens to radio at six in the morning. It is as good as not playing it at all."
Other stations are now contemplating adhering to the demands. Fever FM COO Neeraj Chaturvedi says , "Fever FM caters and customizes its programming to offer a complete music listening experience to Mumbaikars with celebrated shows like Picture Pandey, Fever No 1 show and Rubaroo being highly appreciated. We have heard of the incident in Mumbai and are in the process of reviewing the situation. We will respond basis industry guidelines/agreement."
Inamdar also admitted that force is not the way to deal with the issue. "We just want our space and want to give Marathi music its legitimate space. We tried every way we could to solve this issue peacefully. Even amongst all this hoopla it is the Shiv Sena and its typical style of agitation that is being reported by the media. The basic cause of Marathi music is yet again getting diluted. But then if taking political help us get attention and gives voice to our issue so be it."