Kumar Sanu Reflects on Changes in the Music Industry Since his Initial Success in the ‘90s

Ritu Jha-


Padma Shri awardee, playback singer Kumar Sanu believes that the remixing of old songs with the new is disheartening as it deteriorates the quality of the music. Not of the song itself, but the hard work that was put into the music by the original singer.

Kumar who this past Saturday performed in Silicon Valley with two other legendry artists, Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan told indica in an exclusive interview, “Most of the young generation artists don’t know how to sing the old songs and when it comes out [it] lacks quality.”

As one of the most prolific and popular male vocalists of the ‘90s Indian music industry releasing over 8,000 songs and performing on frequent international concert tours, Kumar shared his observations on the changes the Indian music industry has gone through, “[There has been] a lot of change compared to the way they used to record songs and somehow it feels much easier now.”

Kumar’s stardom began in 1990 when he sang for the soundtrack of the film, Aashiqui. After the film’s release, Kumar became widely recognized in the Indian film industry.

Growing up in Calcutta, Kumar had music in his genes. His father, Pashupati Bhattacharjee, a talented classical composer and vocalist, encouraged Kumar to pursue music from a young age. He supported his early musical training as a singer and tabla player.

“Music is everything, the new generation believes in that. But singers in the 90’s listened and believed in the voice, emotions, and the way artists sang the songs. That was most important,” Sanu was honored with the Padma Shri award in 2009 and five Filmfare awards for singing between 1990 and 1994.

For the 1990 film Aashiqui, music directors Nadeem-Shravan got Sanu to sing all but one of the songs.

He won the first of his record five consecutive Filmfare Awards as Best Male Playback Singer. His next Filmfare Awards were for songs in the movies Saajan (1991), Deewana (1992), Baazigar (1993) and 1942: A Love Story (1994).

Sharing his thoughts on the how technology has impacted the music industry and the artists as well he said, “Yes, technology has disrupted the music industry, which has both its advantages and disadvantages.”

“There is more technology involved compared to when we sang those years, with full orchestra, we sang just once or twice.”

“Now everything is available and what has changed is then in two tracks we were supposed to finish the songs, now even more than 100 tracks could be modified and artists [can] dub their part any time and numerous times.”

The disadvantage is that those who are not singers and cannot sing, they are singing and making albums.

“Now being hard-working has totally come down, and today [recording and singing] has become easy thanks to technology, “he said,

When asked if he misses the ‘90s melodious era compared to the lyrics today in the music industry.

Kumar said that he does miss the melody and the lyrics of the ‘90s. He also noted the ways in which much of the lyrics today are infiltrated with vulgarity.

“The bad stuff reaches people faster and so of course I miss our era.”

Kumar, who is also a  trustee and Brand Ambassador of a non-profit Bishwa Bandhan, a foundation for cerebral palsy said music can heal the brain.

“They are experimenting and believe that how through voice frequency believe they can cure cerebral parsley, and one kid got cured.”

“The frequency in my voice….it activates the dead brain,” said Sanu.



[Photo courtesy: Bollywood Events]


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