The melody of Kumar Sanu

A recent movie release from the top production house saw Kumar Sanu’s return to mainstream Hindi movie after quite a while.

Kumar Sanu’s melodies were a rage back in 90s and we all grew up with his music. The songs are popular and certainly on the play list of  middling generation. The Millennials won’t know much about them though and this return provides them an opportunity to discover a singer who mesmerized a generation with his lovely ditties.

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Aashiqui was a trendsetter Hindi movie that launched Kumar Sanu’s career and marked a turn towards melody in the industry. All the songs were extremely popular and most of them featured Kumar Sanu. The songs were well placed and added heft to the storyline that was otherwise quite run of the mill.

Romantic musicals were now seen to be a sure shot formula to success and a string of popular movies followed. This meant that music reclaimed its rightful place in the scheme of things while planning a movie and even became an assured revenue stream that contributed to the overall success of the venture. In the 90s we were still hooked to music cassettes that turned as good profit and music piracy / MP3 had not become the bane of the industry.

The music composers were up to the task and Kumar Sanu collaborated with all the marquee names including Nadeem-Shravan, Anu Malik, Jatin-Lalit and Anand-Milind. He even got a chance to do a rare collaboration with R D Burman in ‘1942 – A Love Story’ and who can forget the number ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Lara ...’.

Kumar Sanu’s reign was stamped by the unbelievable run he had at the Film Awards as well – he picked up the Best Singer Award at Filmfare for 5 years in a row – Aashiqui (1990), Saajan (1991), Deewana (1992), Baazigar (1993) and 1942 : A Love Story (1994).

And the formula was straight and simple too – usually the song was a romantic one is soft tone, the lyrics were simple rhymes that were meaningful & easy to understand though there was an occasional smattering of Urdu words and western instruments particular the Guitar. In some ways it was a repeat show of Aashiqui many times over. And not to forget Kumar Sanu had made his initial appearance on the scene as a follow-up act of the legendary Kishore Kumar.

His popularity sustained into the new Millennium as well but the number of songs dwindled abruptly by 2005 and he was seen to be past his prime. The music trend too had changed – romantic soft numbers were no more the craze, instead we had a mad rush for item numbers, hinglish songs and even songs that simply made no sense in terms of lyrics. In today’s context certainly Kumar Sanu’s ditties are best seen to be ditties of nostalgia for the ageing generation. The younger crowd does not have much patience for it – remix of such numbers or numbers that can be easily play at the Disco are in demand.

Yet Kumar Sanu’s reappearance might not end as a flash in the pan – the range of songs nowadays has splintered into various genres and everyone seems to have a place under the Sun. So he may yet again carve a niche and retain appeal for sweet and simple that set so many hearts aflutter. So anybody for a rerun of ‘Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye …’.

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