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World Music Day 2022 | Original music on OTT gets a thumbs up

From Amit Trivedi's 'Divine' in 'Sacred Games' and the music of 'Bandish Bandits' by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Sushin Shyam's music for 'Minnal Murali', OTT platforms are giving us music to remember.

June 21, 2022 / 07:34 AM IST
OTT platforms are emerging as another arena of opportunity for new talent. These platforms are also attracting some of the biggest names in India's film industries and on the indie-pop scene, to create original tracks that may outlive the series or film they're a part of. (Illustration by Suneesh K.)

OTT platforms are emerging as another arena of opportunity for new talent. These platforms are also attracting some of the biggest names in India's film industries and on the indie-pop scene, to create original tracks that may outlive the series or film they're a part of. (Illustration by Suneesh K.)

Music can bring people together, regardless of nationality, race, language or geographical boundaries. And World Music Day celebrates this. Fête de la Musique, Make Music Day or International Music Day is celebrated in over 120 countries worldwide. France's culture minister Jack Lang came up with this idea back in 1981, and since June 21, 1982, summer solstice, it’s been celebrated annually.

With digital concerts, self-published music that doesn't depend on music labels, and the rise of music in the OTT sphere, the music scenario in our country has changed drastically in the last few years.

OTT music is a genre by itself

If you’ve binged on Game Of Thrones on Amazon Prime/Disney+Hotstar, chances are that you’ve ended up humming the theme tune.

Indian viewers have grown up appreciating music in our movies and shows, and with the phenomenal rise in long-form OTT content, this has only grown.

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There have been multiple shows in the last couple of years where platforms have used original, exclusive music.

Gautam Talwar, Chief Content Officer, MX Player, says: “We have always given importance to original music scores from the very first series we launched called Hey Prabhu. The show had original songs specifically written for it. This practice is followed even today. Be it songs for hit shows like Aashram or Matsyakaand, or even shows that are in production like Chotte Yaadav, which has original songs composed by none other than the Indian Ocean, we believe that original music is a key to storytelling, and we invest appropriately in creating original tracks for almost all our original shows.”

Singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad who has composed for Netflix’s Mismatched and Ajeeb Daastaans, puts a lot of thought into the music he creates for OTT platforms. So, what does he look for in a project when he says yes to it? “I like to do music that I can do justice to, so if I feel like a song needs to be written in a space that I feel confident operating in - whether lyrically or sound wise, I’m usually happy to do it. I also need to feel good about the project and the script overall.” Kuhad had also composed music for Pause, and Little Things season 2.

In 2019, Sony Music Entertainment released the Original Series Soundtrack of Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven that was composed by Sagar Desai. It had six songs by Rituraj Mohanty, Vibha Saraf, and Farhad Bhiwandiwala. For ‘Roshay’, sung by Vibha, producer Dub Sharma used ambient folk instrumentals, while the song ‘Musafir’ had a danceable beat.  ‘Aa Re Sakhi More Piya Ghar Aaye’, a qawwali by M.S. Nizami Brothers, and the song ‘Perfect Love’ had a light-hearted composition and these are a few examples of originals in OTT series.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's (SEL's) music, a mix of peppy pop numbers, instrumental, folk and pristine Hindustani classical in Bandish Bandits was the core of the show and they spent two years composing for it. The composer trio were pumped at the idea that a web series could give one so many variations and so much scope to explore.

Big names like SEL and others from the Bollywood music industry often work in the OTT sphere now. Composers Sachin-Jigar created music for Amazon Prime’s The Family Man Season 2 and composer Amit Trivedi worked on Disney+Hotstar’s Grahan, 'Divine' in Netflix’s Sacred Games.

These days most shows have music as an integral component of storytelling. Most creative heads at OTT platforms believe that original music is a narrative requirement in storytelling and hence, it is critical to partner with the right music composer for your respective shows.

MX Player's Talwar says they are working with new talent and upcoming musicians as well. “Vaibhav Bundhoo, a newbie, scored some beautiful melodies for our show Campus Diaries. We... produced a full-fledged music show called Times of Music that not only won us the Filmfare but also the Asian Academy Awards. We had legends like Pyarelalji (Laxmikant Pyarelal fame), Anandji (Kalyanji Anandji fame), Viju Shah, Bappi Lahiri to name a few, reimagining songs for contemporary artists like Vishal-Shekhar, Salim-Sulieman, Sachin-Jigar, Ajay-Atul... We are fully invested in creating original songs for our shows as we believe it’s integral to storytelling,” he adds.

Zee 5's Broken But Beautiful Season 2, had an album of four original songs sung by popular singers Anusha Mani, Armaan Malik, Akhil Sachdeva and Vishal Mishra. The melodious love song 'Shaamein' written by Manoj Muntashir, composed by Amaal Mallik and sung by Armaan Malik was much appreciated. Title tracks of Mirzapur, Scam 1992, songs in Shershaah, Ludo, Atrangi Re, Pagglait, Mimi, Minnal Murali have stood out and found a place in not just playlists but popularity charts as well.

Music, after all, has a longer shelf life than any film or series, and that is what has led to this phenomenal rise in the business of music on OTT platforms. Music showcased here is not a slave to a genre, and OTT also has an all-inclusive outlook to creating music, thereby attracting skilled music artistes.
Debarati S. Sen is a Mumbai-based independent journalist and consultant content creator. Instagram: @DebaratiSSen
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