"Hindi music is inspired by rock, not classical sounds"

Mar 28, 2013, 23:31 IST | Kartiki Nitin Lawate

Rock musician Atul Ahuja shares his views on Rock music in contemporary India, how remixes are just embellishments and how aspiring musicians must learn the hard way

Classical Rock outfit Atul Ahuja and Band performed in the cityrecently and wowed the audience with their unique Rock ‘n’ Roll and Classic Rock sounds. Apart from lead singer Ahuja, the other band members include Derek Julien (lead guitar), Ryan Fernandes (bass guitar) and Vatayan (drums). Excerpts from an interview with Ahuja:

Atul Ahuja

Rock music is alive and kicking
The importance of Rock music has never been higher than it’s today. While Bollywood music has a lot of listeners in India, it derives influence from Rock and Western music than from traditional Indian sounds. The lyrics are in Hindi but the music, melody, progressions and arrangements are very Western and drawn from Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rock, Disco and Rap. At times, certain songs and background scores are actually lifted from Western melodies and used in Indian cinema. So, Rock music and its related genres are prevalent in India and infact growing in many ways.

Down memory lane
I was born and raised in Pune. To me, it is the best city in the world. The people, the culture, the weather, the academic institutions, the two-wheelers, the bakeries, the wide variety of excellent food, the seasonal fruit, the diverse population, the student crowd and the eclectic art and music found in Pune is irreplaceable.

The Beatles are the best
After many years of listening to music and playing music, it is difficult to pin down one band or artist as a favourite. Despite that, I can always say that The Beatles continue to remain unmatched and I do not see any band or artist who are a close second. However, my strong influences include many artistes, styles and genres, spanning Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Elvis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Santana, Deep Purple, Queen, Sting and more recently, Adele. In the Indian cinema/ Bollywood context, RD Burman and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy stand apart from the rest. RD Burman created the first tectonic shift in the late 1960s followed by another shift that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy created in the beginning of this millennium.

The bane of remixes
More important than remixing is creating. Musicians need to be encouraged to create. The easy access to publishing music has helped air a lot of work that is great. It has also helped air a lot of mediocre work and mediocre remixing. Previously, the music companies and publishers would help filter the brilliant from the mediocre. That is now left to the end-consumer. Brilliant work will always shine. Remixing is only as good as the brilliance of the created original. It is a means to embellish and dress-up an existing work of music. Creating great music, however, remains at the core of great music, not remixing.

Advise for aspiring musicians
Be true to your lyrics and accompanying music. Write lyrics that you really mean and which can help spread love and voice genuine joy, happiness, and frustration of one’s generation. Music is a great medium to entertain, bring together diverse people and also become the voice of a generation. Create it and spread it wisely. Plagiarising and publishing songs for the sake of cheap popularity or for making a quick buck will never satisfy a musician or the audience, beyond a quick-fix. The audience is smarter than most in the long run.  

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