| 27 Mar 2023
Durga Jasraj: "Bollywood is not killing love for classical music"

Art And Artistes director and Indian Music Academy (IMA) co-founder Durga Jasraj:

Year 2012 for classical music:

An afternoon while travelling in the sweltering heat of Mumbai, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from an official representing London Olympic Organizing Committee, asking me for some artistes they would like to nominate for Olympic celebrations around the venues. On the way, I was wondering about the call, and suddenly it dawned on me that International telecast of Idea Jalsa on the leading Zee TV network across 165 countries has provided a world-wide footprint of Jalsa – ensuring that audiences across the world are exposed to Indian music performances across various genres in a contemporary fashion. While Zee International enabled a reach of 57 million unique viewers in one year, Idea Jalsa has now undisputedly established itself as the single largest platform for all genres of Indian music. Over 700 artistes and more than 50 different genres of Indian music, Idea Jalsa has provided the Indian music industry with a diverse collection of timeless content and a large repertoire of classical and contemporary Indian music. It gave me immense satisfaction of having powered a powerful programme that serves as a brand ambassador for Indian Classical Music.

Great triumph was company’s efforts towards spreading Indian music in the mainstream of media worldwide. Jalsa saw tremendous  140 million viewers (viewer unique) in urban India. Zee offered 165 countries across the world –a huge achievement. It has never been showcased in the mainstream media, media invasions since 1990s

Indian Classical Music scenario is getting further organized with the advent of interesting festivals and programmes, and encouraging response from corporate towards sponsoring programmes. One has seen a renewed interest in this category.

Growth of classical music:

The music of India includes multiple varieties of folk, popular, pop and classical music. India's classical music tradition, including Carnatic and Hindustani music, has a history spanning millennia and, developed over several era, it remains fundamental to the lives of Indians today as sources of spiritual inspiration, cultural expression and pure entertainment. India is made up of several dozen of ethnic groups, speaking their own languages and dialects, having very distinct cultural traditions. If one tries to look at classical music scenario, the basis would be the live concerts, festivals, performances, recorded music sale, and programmes.  While so many things have changed over the years in terms of technology, and new styles emerging, rarely did anyone attempt to try and adapt Indian music to the changing medium.

Indian music industry has a rich musical tradition and is capable of generating sizeable revenue for the country in every genre of the music industry. The Indian entertainment industry is known and incomplete without music. Other segments such as remix, Indi-pop, mobile music have also gained popularity. The current size of Indian music industry could be estimated to be in the region of Rs 800 crore.

In keeping with emerging times, we are foraying into the digital space with Hungama and making a big mark. We feel that digital will help in expanding the music industry further and catalyze exponential growth to Rs 2000 crore industry.

Developing interest:

Most of us have a notion that Bollywood tunes have spoilt the new generation’s taste in music in general, and classical music in particular. Singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mukesh, Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi  and other greats, who are unparalleled in singing, have given the audience their first big taste in music, and developed our musical aesthetics and have created the base of understanding music. Video has played an important role in elevating music. Music is not understood, but first enjoyed. If the presentation of music becomes cool, then it enhances your experience and this can differ from person to person. It is all about story telling. Only once people graduate from here, do they move to semi classical, ghazal, bhajans, then taste evolves to classical and people have personal choices -- some may like classical, some may like desi, and some may like rock.   But it’s wrong to say Bollywood music is killing love for classical music. Hindi film industry has in fact helped in promoting music, and Bollywood isn`t to be blamed for anything. People who feel youth don’t have a knack for listening to classical music should understand that that’s not the case. They just need it to be served to them the way they like it.

Remembering the legends:

The departure of doyens always brings a gloom to the world of music – for each of them have stamped their class through their character, inherent understanding of the nuances of music, thus creating a fan base globally. Such doyens have served the society to share their very special gift they have been blessed with, i.e. music. Their music will remain eternally with us. As the industry tends to lose its doyens over the years the gaps get created. With many new promising talent that are emerging in the performing art scene this brings freshness and hope in the horizon to the world of music.

Way Forward:

Music needs connoisseurs, patrons and fans and this is what can propel the industry to get more and more formalized and organized. In this world of entertainment along with the existence of cricket and bollywood, the non-film bollywood genre of music will find a space because it is a niche art. With more fans that keep showing up at such live performances, it will be (will make it) valuable for sponsors for them to get their numbers and this will it make it attractive for musicians to pursue the field as a full time career, rather than a part time one.

We believe that in future, music will remain our core, multimedia will make it valuable for sponsors to get their returns on investment making it attractive where the programme needs to be conceived and  (&) produced with content adaptable through music across television, live events, radio, digital, multi-media formats and so on.

Despite the progress of technology, the ‘Live’ experience is what people cherish, and hence the need for putting together events in different markets where you have the artistes perform. The key is in creating the platform that entailed the creation of an event with a popular appeal e.g. festivals or cultural program. The challenge will be to evolve a new type of presentation to seed an appreciation for music and general and traditions in particular making it a unique experience.