By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network
It looks like the notorious slump in the music industry is over. Suddenly star prices have skyrocketed propelling the music industry to follow suit. "It's all because of Akshay Kumar," says Pritam Chakraborty with a straight face. "When he started charging unheard-of prices (apparently in the vicinity of Rs 30 crores) the entire economics of an average film project altered drastically. Today my musicians, arrangers and programmers are asking for a steep hike in their remuneration. I've no choice but to hike my fee accordingly."
Though Pritam doesn't mention a specific amount, his fee has apparently gone up from approximately 7-8 lakhs per score to around 12-15 lakhs. All the other composers including the successful Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Vishal Shekhar charge in the same vicinity.
However, after the release of the soundtrack of Anees Bazmee's Akshay Kumar starrer Singh Is Kinng which has been sold at a staggering price of Rs 13.5 crores, Pritam Chakbraborty who has scored music for the album is expected to hike his fee by many notches.
Says the long-haired globally-geared composer, "Singh Is Kinng redefines the parameters of film music sales. This kind of price for a movie soundtrack was unheard-of after people stopped buying music off the shelves as much as they used to, thanks to computer and television outlets."
However, Pritam has walked away with very little of the Singh Is Kinng loot. "We musicians remain underpaid especially lately when the music industry was undergoing a slump. For me the turning point was the soundtrack of Jab We Met which gave me a chance to be unusually creative and then Race which had peppy item songs."
A.R.Rahman is a price apart. Apparently, his fee per score used to be around 1.5 crore rupees which considering the all-round escalation in movie budgets has gone up to Rs. 2.5 crores.
Last year's flamboyant flavour Himesh Reshammiya has stopped doing music for films that do not feature him in the cast. So he cannot be counted among the musicians in the race.
But composer Aadesh Shrivastav feels the bubble is an illusion. "And it's bound to burst. Who are these people who are suddenly paying in multi-crores for music rights when everyone knows music doesn't sell these days? Very frankly, I look at the Rs. 13.5 crore claim for the Singh Is Kinng soundtrack with great skepticism. Whom are they giving that kind of money to? The film's leading man Akshay Kumar or the music composer Pritam? Have they given Pritam even a fraction of the money they've got for the music rights?"
Aadesh feels film music is going through an era of unhealthy competition. "I remember when Laxmikant-Pyarelal had composed the Qawwalli 'Parda Hai Parda' for Amar Akbar Anthony, R.D. Burman was so thrilled, he immediately congratulated Laxmi-Pyare and was inspired to compose a Qawwalli 'Hai Agar Dushman' in Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin. Today the competition is so unhealthy. If two plagriarized songs click in a movie, another music director will offer to rip off four songs for the same producer and make them chartbusters. Today when a listener hears a song he likes his first reaction is, 'Where is it stolen from?' It's very difficult to remain original like I am, when everyone is busy copying. That's why I'm doing so much non-film work. Very honestly I see no future in Hindi film music."