Mera bachcha bada hoke doctor ya engineer banega.” If you had a penny for each time an Indian parent has said that over the years, you’d probably be giving the Ambanis and Adanis a run for their money. But you’d struggle to fill a piggy bank if, instead, you were to get a penny for each time a desi parent has said, “Mera bachcha bada hoke indie musician banega.” The reason is that despite the independent music business showing signs of flourishing these days, the career path that an artiste takes remains fraught with uncertainty. And yet, there are lakhs of aspiring musicians who throw caution to the wind. Some of them persevere, while others get disillusioned and quit. It’s that latter group that singer Sahil Dhandhia has a message for in his new single, Chalte jaana hai, the message being — try, try, try again.
It’s part of his upcoming album, named after this first track, and the Mumbaikar tells us that there are manifold problems that indie musicians face. “The first is vagueness,” he says, adding, “What I mean is that there is no clarity on how you should go about things in your career. You might want to sing for Bollywood. You might want to sing jingles. But who do you approach for that, and how do you go about it? There is no clear path for that, unlike in acting, where you get a portfolio done and approach casting agents.”
Another problem, he continues, is that people within the indie music business tend to act all high and mighty when they should be simply doing their job. “They [people who work for labels, for example] pretend to be a lot busier than they are, when it’s a desk job where they simply have to listen to a track that a musician sends and just get back with an answer, even if it’s a ‘no’. Otherwise, there’s a lot of anxiety that sets in because you think, ‘Has the person heard my track? Is he going to get back?’ It starts chewing you up, and that’s not healthy,” Dhandhia elaborates.
Then there are the usual niggles like financial insecurity and parental objections. There are no easy solutions to these, but Dhandhia does suggest that someone should write a book, a sort of primer on how musicians should approach their career. That’s not a bad idea at all, because goodness knows that Indian indie musicians need all the help they can get.
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