Bollywood songs – A Reflection of Society and a Treasure of Musical Forms


The world of Bollywood is one of glitz and glamour. An envoy of talent, grit and dreams, Bollywood fondly used as a term for all things related to Indian movies is more than what meets the eye. However, of all the different merits and features of this industry, there is one that stands out when compared to other cinemas of the world. Songs an integral part of Indian movies have for years been and continue to be a very important part of the movies, conveying emotions and moments in a variety of ways.

Romantic numbers

Very rarely in real life will you find your mom breaking into a soulful ‘lori’ while trying to make you sleep, or your brother singing about his fondness for you in front of a gathered audience and worse your boyfriend jumping on hills, running around trees emoting his deepest love and feelings. Alas! All of this happens in Indian movies and though at times criticized for its sheer absurdity, one cannot but help feeling that movies are meant to take you away from reality into a world of fantasy where anything and everything is possible. The larger than life scope of cinema hence finds a wonderful expression in songs that have over the years been the best friends of Indians domestically as well as globally.

Because just sitting idly and listening to tuneful romantic songs stirs the soul to limitless possibilities just as tapping your feet with your headphones in the middle of completing an important assignment. The rush of adrenaline while watching team India battle it out on the large screen is as much moving as missing a heartbeat while rooting for the underdog in a relationship. Hindi Cinema along with all regional cinemas does have a penchant for churning out melodies that are a large part of the movie industry.

Sad songs

Each regional cinema will have its own rhythm, chartbusters and all-time favorites, however, the songs are as much a part of the cultural landscape as of the movie and story itself. And that probably is the biggest achievement of songs in Indian cinema, that no matter what, they have reflected the society of their time. And hence have etched memories of the jingles along with the surrounding setting and societal moods. The older subtle romantic numbers showcased the communities reluctance to bold unabashed love scenes nonetheless the songs with their meaningful lyrics and heart wrenching music have laid the foundation of romanticism for generations to come. With songs about cites, occupations and events, they depicted and continue to depict the struggles of living a routine life, of why one needs a ‘tel’ maalish (a quintessential Indian remedy for practically all ailments) or the frolic behind weddings.

Wedding beats

A song thus simply makes one remember how a Punjabi wedding is different from a Bengali one, how picnics are characterized by group games and flirting, how Durga Puja, Diwali and Eid are celebrated, how patriotic fervor is enhanced on knowing of country’s sacrifices or how secretly meeting away from prying eyes of neighbors and family are essential aspects of a new blossoming of love. And this is why a song sequence is a true reflection of the way the story visualizes emotions and thoughts which are in turn influenced by culture, tradition and the way of life.

Patriotic fervor

Songs tend to have higher impact on the audience since the visual is combined with a melody that is hard to forget. Besides the societal and individual reflection, songs in Indian cinema are also in many ways bearers of the rich traditional forms of music. At the same time they are not limited to just Indian music or classical music but also music forms from across the globe are used, integrated and presented in movies. This opens up a wide scope of letting the masses meet the popular music genres and incorporating these in a movie only increases its appeal and spread. Thus Bollywood music has been responsible in letting audiences aware of different music forms, such as, kawali, sufi songs, Hindustani and Carnatic music, folk music, Rabindra Sangeet and many more. Essentially, music of Bollywood also called Filmi Music incorporates practically all the other forms of music, hence opening up avenues and awareness of the rich history and repository of music that belongs here. At the same time, it borrows heavily from other international genres too, exemplifying the fact, that music in truth knows no boundaries.

Occupational hums – Care for a Tel maalish?

For all the fun and sarcasm that at times is entwined with Bollywood songs, one cannot ignore their relevance in our daily lives. The blazing sound in auto rickshaws, the soulful tunes while driving in rain, the loud rocking during weddings or the melancholy of life and romance when in tears alone have been the fastest friends of everyone who has seen Indian movies. The songs besides having a personal connect also are true reflections of the world we live in. I say true, because though Bollywood songs originate in fiction, they carry with them large doses of reality, even when they involve fantasy. And, that happens to be their magical beauty. As they say, ‘Geet Gataa Hoon Main…’

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