20 October, 2020

The Dub Foundation

The clones have fallen silent. The new wave of crooners beat a different drum.

Narendra Bisht
The Dub Foundation
Kailash Kher says he's never asked anyone for work. Those who want him, get in touch. "It's like I have opened a shop of incense sticks and other fragrances. It's spreading on its own," says the 30-year-old diminutive singer from Delhi. Kher's success—he's sung over 250 songs and jingles—is remarkable because he sounds unlike anything we have heard before, a challenge to the assembly-line nature of Bollywood playback singers.

For seven decades, when it came to voice, the industry was unwavering in its demand: more of the same. There were three established pillars—Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh and Kishore Kumar—and no one looked any further. The assembly line, in fact, had started much before them. Mukesh came to the fore as a faithful imitator of K.L. Saigal. Even Kishore did a spoof of the singer-actor who ruled in the 1930s with Dheere se jaana khatiyan mein, o khatmal. Along the way, talents like Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar managed limited success, barely enough for a four-CD 'best of' collection.

In the '80s and '90s, following the exit of the...


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