KK Demise: Bollywood Vs Regional!

There was an ugly kind of mad expression just the day before the Kolkata concert of the famous Bollywood playback singer Krishnakumar Kunnath (KK) who succumbed to a heart attack immediately after that fateful concert, held in a jammed auditorium in extreme humid heat conditions. Due to the lack of space we couldn’t mention it and discuss about this particular madness, obviously a pandemic-induced one to a large extent, in our earlier piece. It came from a well-known Bangla artiste-singer in the form of an enraged expression. He questioned as to who is KK indeed, that why should there be so much craze for such Bollywood singers like him and that there are more talented singers than him available locally in Bengal. No doubt, his comments were condemned in all quarters including the social media. The artiste himself apologized for his behavior and later expressed his terrible shock over the tragedy that followed the concert.


However, this kind of ugly conduct cannot be wished away as a one-off thing or as an aberration. Of course, this coming from a Bangla artiste is a bit surprising, because Bengal has a thriving film and music industry that gives ample opportunities to the local singers or playback singers and, from the early ages in Bollywood numerous talented Bangla directors, producers, actors and singers migrated and made it big there, and it’s still in continuation. Our rather unfortunate observation that ‘his comments cannot be wished away…’ is valid in many other states of the country where the respective film and music industries are sluggish and not paying enough to anyone wanting to make a career, barring exceptions, of course.


In such a state there’ve always been dissatisfaction, lamentations and rage over the Bollywood artistes coming there and performing to packed auditoriums or stadiums while they just look on helplessly, abandoned as locals without the ‘glamour’ value. Many of us have seen from the sixties at least when local filmmakers go out of the states for music recordings, always preferring Bollywood playback singers to sing for their films even if it involved compromise with the local language. Even now, with high-tech studios coming up almost everywhere the filmmakers do the recordings there, but still prefer famous Hindi playback singers. 

Similarly, local event organizers are always ready to go to any extent to bring in Bollywood singers so that their events become grand successes. Local artists are not considered, because when they’re featured it just becomes a local event, mostly even without ticketing or ways to make money. Only the southern states are the glorious exceptions to this grumpy ‘artistic’ phenomenon because they create their own phenomenal superstars locally and generate the moolahs not just locally, but worldwide.  


Well, it’s an established fact that there are thousands of very talented singers all around the country; more now, thanks to the social media and many other digital platforms where they can sing like stars. But everyone cannot make it to the playback singing in Bollywood; forget about making it big there, due to various reasons like lack of enough finances or sponsorship or command over Hindi or lack of connections and kinda godfathers or many others. 

On the other hand, Bollywood thrives on its countrywide or even worldwide acceptance with everything enacted in the national language Hindi that is welcome everywhere except, obviously, in the southern states of India. Thanks to its huge reach Hindi films or songs or actors or singers become immensely popular instantly. And, the local organizers, filmmakers and other professionals vie to get hold of at least a handful of them to make their projects in regional languages look bigger, attractive and more glamorous.


The two-year hiatus created by the pandemic has hit the regional artists much more than those in Bollywood, making them frustrated, despondent and angry. Many of them have become like the millions of others who have lost their jobs, sources of income and thus the means of their preferred livelihoods. Therefore, this unfortunate chasm between Bollywood/Hindi vs. Regionals is likely to widen further in a future that is laden with uncertainty, inflation and declining growth of markets. And unfortunately again, we cannot offer any solution to this, because it’s been an issue of creative ventures, preferences and choices. Any kinds of strong regionalism or parochialism can only further the stress within the country.


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