A story of love, loss and second chances by Nikita Singh, releasing this Valentine’s Day.
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Heartbreak is a universal phenomenon, whether man or a woman. Why are so many heartbreak songs in Bollywood today sung by male voices, sometimes even for a woman’s heartbreak?
Heartbreak is an everyday affair just like study, work, living and daily chores, because everyday, or to be precise, even every hour of any day we go through some heartbreak.
Yes. That’s true. What is heartbreak anyway? Anything that the heart desires but is not fulfilled; rather, shattered. Isn’t it? Be it studies where you’ve really worked hard for some exam and still get low marks. Be it work where you’ve really gave your 100 percent and still didn’t get the expected acknowledgement. Be it in your friends’ circle where you’re the one who holds the group together and still get rebuked for not making more effort? And lastly in love life where every little denial is a mini heartbreak and the ultimate rejection is the big heartbreak.
But even after that when you can’t afford to go into depression, or stop living, you do that what everyone usually does just after the heartbreak… yes, you provide food to your soul that is music. And the music you hear is intentionally chosen as sad first and healing next. First you want to feel the loss for a longer period of time, and when you realize that you’ve overcome the pain, you start listening to healing songs.
Now the point of this post are these heartbreak songs, of which we have no dearth in India, thanks to Bollywood. Every movie ever made in Bollywood has one or two sad songs which fit perfectly to the mood after heartbreak.
But what about the voice that sings these heartbreak songs? If you look closely, you’ll find that the bulk of these songs are sung by male singers, and a female voice, if present, is usually there only to support that male voice.
When in turmoil, as women, we always prefer to talk our hearts out to our mothers, sisters or women friends… no doubt fathers and male friends are fine too, but as women, many of us feel that some things are just better in women-to-women talk. And when it comes to consolation or solace it’s the best when the voice is that of a woman. Same theory can be applied to songs too.
Another thing is, that when we hear female versions of heartbreak songs we can feel that it’s not just us who are going through that wrenching pain. It has happened with others, to others, and they have successfully evolved as a person themselves after getting over that. So it becomes easier to move on. Also, when we hear a female version of the song we realize the intensity of the words and thus the emotions.
If that’s so, why why is Bollywood is filled with heartbreak songs in male voices? Is it because they show a man’s emotion in that song… how broken he is, how helpless he feels, how devastated his world had become? But aren’t these the same things that a woman feels when the same thing happens with her? Then why do we have heartbreak songs catering only to the male character, and by extension, to men? Why highlight one thing and ignore the other? Are they trying to show that it’s always the men who face rejection? Who suffer heartbreak? Don’t women face denial or rejection or cheating? Do only men need the help of a heartbreak song and not women? Also, why are there mostly male voices for the sad and heartbreak songs even when women are shown to have suffered? Like the bizarre way in which there is a male voices to showcase female heartbreak like ‘Piya Aaye Na‘ (Aashiqui 2), ‘Aaoge Jab Tum‘ (Jab We Met) and many more. The only compensation we get is the soulful lyric of these songs.
What else I’ve noticed is when it comes to the realization of love or show of happiness they readily use female voices. So there is an equal measure of the both male and female versions of happy songs. But that’s not the case in the previous matter.
However that was not the case in the previous times. Go back to the black and white era and you’ll find a handful of songs based on female heartbreaks sung by female singers, ‘Ajeeb Dastan Hai Ye‘ for instance. Although women then were shown in sarees and gajras and with a more ‘faithful’ mindset than today, being bad and bold (and maybe more ‘real’?) doesn’t mean she gets cheated and then what’s the point of showing her mourning while there’s a male giving words to her emotions?
No matter how ‘new age’ we become, some thoughts and human emotions that are primal still remain old fashioned, and that’s not at all bad. At a time when Bollywood is trying to be more feminist by making women centered movies with strong female characters I hope they start realizing the necessity of making female versions of heartbreak songs.
Header image is a still from the movie Jab We Met
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