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In Defense of "Guzzler" Music

Bollywood - the largest film industry in the world. Every year, it provides hundreds of movies featuring intricate storylines, raw emotions, and insightful meanings. Yet, an often overlooked feature of Bollywood films is the music used throughout a movie. One of the unique features of Bollywood that sets it apart from other film industries is the musical nature of the movies. In any given film, 5-7 songs, usually sung by playback singers, play during various moments in the movie. These songs typically help progress the plot, but can also give the viewer insight into a character, similar to a monologue from Shakespeare. In itself, the songs have many subgenres. From dance and party songs to more classical songs, there is a place for any type of song in a Bollywood film. The most common type, and my personal favorite, is called ghazal, which is traditionally an Arabic verse relating to loss and love.

In modern terms, however, Ghazals are most commonly labeled as any emotional song about love or heartbreak. The artists who sing Ghazals are informally known as “guzzlers”. Among these artists is the renowned Arijit Singh, who has quickly become one of the most prominent playback singers of the 2010s. Using his soft yet powerful voice, he conveys heartfelt emotion in every song he sings. His vocals help the listener experience the true emotions of the song, whether it be sadness or love. Even to someone who has never been in love or felt heartbreak, Singh makes the listener feel as if they are in the situation. Vocals aren’t the only aspect that makes Ghazals so special though. Coupled with soothing vocals, captivating lyrics also help enhance the raw emotion of a song. One of these lyrics is from the song “Raabta”, which states “Tere nazara mila roshan sitara mila, taqdeer kikashtiyon ko kinara mila.” In English, this translates to “When I see you, it’s like attaining a bright star, it’s like the boats of my destiny have found the shore.” Its many lyrics like these, combined with beautiful vocals that represent what Ghazal music truly is - heartfelt, emotional, and powerful.

Yet, even as dynamic as Ghazals may seem, everyone does not love it. Critics argue that this genre attempts to make listeners feel artificial emotions. This can be demonstrated by the fact that many songs use overly sentimental lyrics when they aren’t needed. Another argument against Ghazal music is the fact it doesn’t display a wide range of emotions. This is believed because the majority of Ghazals are only about sadness, and rarely provide any happy feelings. Finally, critics argue that the widespread use of sorrowful songs goes against what a traditional Bollywood song should be. While all of these arguments have merit, they either simplify or misunderstand Ghazal music. For starters, when lyrics are sentimental, they are needed to provide context to a scene or just to give the song a more lasting impact. In addition, I would argue that Ghazals don’t necessarily need to use many emotions. The purpose of one in the first place is to be about love or sadness, so it doesn’t need any other emotions. I would further argue that the introduction of a variety of genres to Bollywood movies has expanded the range and depth that a film can be.

Ultimately, whether you are a fan or critic of Ghazal music, its ubiquity in Bollywood cannot be understated. I believe that it has the ability to make one feel emotions in an entirely new way. Its meaningful lyrics and strong vocals provide heartfelt songs that can even touch those devoid of emotions. Ghazals and other sentimental music have had a lasting impact on me, and I’m certain that, if many people gave it a chance, they could experience the beauty as well.


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