Film songs acted as catalyst of change in India: Luke Kenny

By Madhusree Chatterjee

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) Hindi film music has echoed the changes in Indian popular culture for the last 60 years mirroring the growth of the country in sync with global trends, says India's first male video jockey (VJ), Luke Kenny.

"We have a great tradition of music in Hindi films. If you look at the evolution of Hindi films, you would find that they always had songs in them. The film songs acted as catalyst of change in India because movies have been the primary mode of entertainment in India - introducing new ideas," Kenny told IANSl.

The Irish-Italian-British VJ, rock revivalist, actor, writer and filmmaker who was born in Kolkata and raised in Mumbai, was in the capital to receive the "Glenfiddich - The Spirit of the Pioneer Award" along with five other achievers Aug 25.

Every era had its own kind of music in Hindi movies, Kenny said.

"The trend in the 1950s was crooning around the world and the Hindi movie music reflected it. The 1960s was a decade of upheaval in western music with the arrival of rock 'n roll, which seeped into Hindi movie music. Hindi cinema music has reflected western music consistently - having western parallels in songs of every decade," Kenny said.

"While composers Shankar-Jaikishan was influenced by the likes of American rocker and country music star Jerry Lee Lewis and popular rock 'n roll, actor Shammi Kapoor went to the US to buy the latest rock 'n roll releases. And he (Shammi Kapoor) would return to India to demand similar music in his movies," he said.

Kenny, who began to work as a DJ in the early 1990s, became Channel V's first VJ in 1995. In 1998, he became the head of music programming of Channel V for nearly a decade and was known for his popular western music feature - "Luke After Hours".

In 2005, he directed his first feature film, "13th floor" and in 2008 starred in Abhishek Kapoor's movie, "Rock On!!!" as a keyboardist.

"I am in the process of setting up a music television company that will bring the best of international music to India. I am in talks with a major house. It is a purely Indian venture with definite future plans to emerge as a player in the international as well as in the regional music space. Regional music channels are unique to television," Kenny said.

Music has been part of Kenny's growing up years.

"It was all around me. My grandfather played jazz with a band in Delhi, my father played western music in Kolkata in the 1960s and my grandmother became a fan of Hindi movie music (Amitabh Bachchan movie songs) after we moved to Mumbai from Kolkata. It was a triangular attack of all kinds of music," he recalled.

He plays "solo rock music with a collective of musicians".
Kenny's musical journey began in 1980s with "Michael Jackson, discovery of music videos and the pop-rock sounds of the mid-1980s."

Music has transformed since then, Kenny said.

"It is because of the evolution media has gone through because of easy accessibility of technology. There has been a focus shift in the sense that everybody wants instant entertainment. As a result, movie channels had to explore other means to survive and grouped on to reality TV. It is unfair to blame music channels," Kenny said.

The television music veteran is also directing a new horror movie.

"Horror is a genre that has been neglected in India. In India, when one thinks of horror movies, they are usually of the 'bhatakti atma (haunting souls)' type. But horror is so much larger than that," he said.

Kenny, who is working with a scriptwriter, is "shopping for a producer to pick up his script."

"I will direct and act," the said.

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