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					        Popular music and cassette industry in Haryana 1980-2005

The following essay is an engagement with the emergence of cassette culture in Haryana

and seeks to explore various dimensions by which cassette industry impinged on the pre-

existing music in this region and also shedding light on the various facets of the industry

itself which helps to provide some generalizations about popular music in North India.

The cassette revolution has engendered a dramatic restructuring and reorientation of the

music industry, of quality, quantity, and variety and of consumption and dissemination

patterns. This decentralization and democratization of technology has revitalized local

subcultures and community values but also brings contradictions. This study attempts to

bring out the changes occurring not only within the cassette industry but also the ways in

which it has impacted traditional networks of patronage. This essay very briefly will also

be a comparative study with other regional cassette industry as well. This study can be

divided into three sub-periods: (i) 1980-1990 (ii) 1990-1999 (iii) 1999-2005. The first

period marks the beginnings of cassette industry to which there was a lot of scepticism

among the local artistes as to whether venture in this field or to continue with the

tradition of live performances, which meant a very limited participation. The second

period marks firm entrenchment of industry and much more enthusiasm shown by the

local artistes which restructured the industry and industry exercising greater command

over the forms of representations and content and above all music itself. The third period

witnesses the transformation from an audio medium to visual medium with the coming of

inexpensive CD players and the declining costs of production and the availability of eight
songs in a full length feature film. This classification is linked not only to the changes

occurring in cassette industry in Haryana but also to the ways in which other regional

industries had their impact on the industry in this region.

This study is based on interviews with cassette industry owners, local artistes, attending

live performances and tracing the changes occurring in terms of from and content of the

songs. Before analyzing the cassette industry, it is worthwhile to investigate as to what is

the form that gets a place in the cassette and becomes a commodity for consumption

while other forms get sidelined and how it is different from other regional cassette

industry. The term ‘cassette’ which I will be using throughout the essay refers to not only

the audio cassettes but includes video cassettes and VCD’s and DVD’s as well. This is

mainly due the form that is common in all these mediums.

Before the advent of cassette culture in Haryana, the swang/ sang was the main source of

entertainment, performed either on public functions or on private functions like marriages

or birth of son in the family. Ragini was the narrative mode for swang. To put it simply a

ragini is like a song but whole performance has to be in the form of ragini. This kind of

narration is very well reflected in Heer-Ranjha, a Hindi film, starring Raj Kumar,

directed by Chetan Anand, which had all the characters conversing with each other only

in rhymes. Almost all the raginis were composed between 1900-1945 by prominent

sangis (one who performs swang) and thus what gets incorporated into cassettes is part of

a much longer history of oral tradition some even dating back to the early nineteenth

century. Thus what we have in the form of cassettes is actually compilation of this oral

tradition into some kind of archival form, but this compilation has also caused serious

damage to once vibrant and innovative live performances which is reduced to just a
handful of public rendition that too only of a handful of raginis which has led to the

complete disappearance of swang from the social and cultural life of the region.

The earliest cassette company to produce Haryanavi music was Sapna cassettes but has

ceased to exist now and not a single record is available with either cassette shops or with

avid listeners of raginis. The other major cassette companies operating in this region are

Max, Maina,. Jagdish, Sonotek and Superline. It is interesting to note that most of these

cassette companies are based mainly in Delhi and the NCR (National Capital Region) and

only Superline is produced from the interiors of Haryana that is from Rohtak district. A

mapping of production centers reveals an interesting aspect of the styles of music and

content of the raginis. This kind of mapping also transcends the political boundaries of

Haryana and we have a much different kind of Haryana in its cultural essence.

Max Cassettes is one of the earliest cassette companies that started producing Haryanavi

music. Though, no precise date can be assigned to any of these cassette companies since

the owners themselves has a very rough idea as to when they entered this enterprise but

everyone tells theirs started after this one or that one. The oldest cassette, which I was

able to get hold of, is a 1988 manufactured containing eight raginis from Kissa-

Satyawadi Harishchandra (the truthful Harishchandra). It was in the early decades of

1980’s and more precisely between 1982-84 that many of these cassettes companies

started production activities. Initially, Max produced the entire swang/ sang in four

volumes that could be purchased anywhere between Rs75-90 depending upon the

bargaining skills of the buyer but still it was out of reach for many as they would have to

the entire pack of four cassettes. It is also significant to note that whereas a swang may

well contain more than fifty or in some cases even hundred raginis and a live
performance could take whole night oven the next day to complete the rendition

depending upon audience and function but, these cassettes consist only of a few selective

raginis and the rest of the plot can be surmised within the ragini or at the end of the

ragini. This has had an adverse impact on the ragini itself as they get shortened over a

period of time and it is only some raginis, which are seen as authentic resulting in the

decline of singing of whole lot of raginis and swang as performance no longer attracting

the imagination of people.

Initial recordings focused mainly on the religious content of the raginis. This was partly

due to the fact people themselves were skeptical of the industry and its success and the

early years didn’t yield much of economic returns thus the emphasis was more on

devotional themes. It should be noted that the late 1980’s was also a period when

television was becoming a household reality and people were fed with all kinds religious

serials be it Ramayana, Mahabharata, or Shakuntala etc., and this manifested in the spurt

in devotional content of these cassettes. Thus, the first phase of cassette industry was

marked by conservatism in terms of the themes that it chose to record and not too many

experiments done with the music itself. Max cassettes pioneered in this kind of

recordings. Max cassettes employed Rajkishan Agwanpuria for most of its recordings and

his status exalted equivalent to that of Arun Govil (the actor who played the character of

Ram in Ramayana, a popular TV show in late 1980’s), being revered by all and people

touching his feet not only because of his rendition of religious themes but also due the

stories circulating about his good nature and not being too demanding with the producers.

Since it was only an audio medium and no video recordings were possible in the first

period, the inlay cards also used to be very simple in which the singer sat on a sofa and
cassette sold mainly on the goodwill of the singer rather than that of company. With

early success Max cassettes faced much competition from other cassette companies and

also with the changing tastes of the people. There was change not only in terms of music

but the styles of singing and the most striking event that transformed from cassette

production was the coming of competition, although it existed earlier as well but the

manner in which it affected the recording process was enormous. Competition, actually

took the recording out of the studios and now recording was done in the open, in front of

public during the holding of live performances. It is interesting to note the response of

Max cassettes to the crisis posed by these structural changes in the cassette industry.

Though we need to discuss these changes as well but let us first analyze the response of

Max to the changes. Early 1990’s is also the period of emergence of T-Series on the

scene and brought Jhankar beats as the musical change in the cassettes. This kind of

music was not possible in case of ragini as they were a part of popular culture having a

longer history and the people wouldn’t have accepted any kind of change in the

traditional music and few attempts that were made proved to be a failure. The other

important feature that T-Series brought with it was the production of blank cassettes. This

idea was immediately taken up by the Max and started producing blank cassettes for

other cassette companies. The cost of production for a blank cassettes during this period

ranged anywhere between Rs.4-7 and this was a healthy proposition for Max since it had

its own studio as well, which, it continued to give other cassette companies on rent and

this ranged between Rs.3000-5000 and considering the number of recordings that were

taking place due to the change in music and also the composition of singers, it proved to

be a healthy advantage to Max alongwith the production of blank cassettes. But all this
changed very soon. Many other companies started producing blank cassette for their own

use and also for other companies that were based out of Delhi in the smaller towns of

Haryana and U.P. like, Meerut, Rohtak, Bulandshahar and Bhiwani. This meant serious

economic loss to Max and no new records were available since they already had stopped

producing new records. And now it is involved mainly in reproducing its older records

that are still in demand but in very remote regions of Haryana and its adjoining regions.

Max has its own distribution outlet in Lajpat Rai Market but the rumours in the industry

suggest that it’s on the verge of closure as the new generation has abandoned this

enterprise and is looking for greener pastures.

Maina cassettes started on a humble note in the early 1984 and today it is the undisputed

leader in cassette production. This company today, is synonymous with the film making

in Haryanavi, Nepali and Bhojpuri as well. It has very successfully made the transition

from cassette production to film-making in virgin territories like Haryana and Rajasthan

and very recently talks are on for producing a film in Uttaranchal region. A more closer

look at the transition of this company would reflect on the transition of ragini culture

itself and changing tastes in an era of globalization.

Before setting its foot in Delhi, Maina conducted its distribution and marketing activities

from Dadri(a district in Haryana, about 200-220 km away from Delhi) but most of its

recordings were done in Max Studio owned by Max cassettes. A master copy was

prepared here and had a shop in Lajpat Rai Market, which was responsible for

distribution in the neighbouring regions like Meerut, Ghaziabad, and also catering to

tastes in NCR which has a substantial rural population and forms a major chunk of

consumers. Maina also owned a retail shop in Dadri and for some this whole business of
cassette production was secondary to their traditional business. Very soon, the need to

shift to Delhi was felt and in early 1990’s, the family migrated to Delhi, leaving the shop

to their extended family in Haryana. It is in this period that cassette companies like

Jagdish and Maina overtakes Max by bringing subtle changes in the music and also

changing their singers and content. Whereas the first incorporated mainly the devotional

and mythological episodes, the focus was shifted to raginis, which dealt with everyday

life like Devar-Bhabhi and Jija-Sali relationships.

Maina capitalized on the tastes of young college going students and this marked the

beginning of parody. The ragini composed on Hindi film song, ‘Meri Chhatri Ke Neeche

Aja, Kyon Bheege Kamla Khari-Khari’ became instant hit and this started the trend

towards appropriation of film tunes and abandoning of traditional tunes and traditional

musical instruments as well. The traditional music instruments are divided into two

categories: (i) Kachha Saj, it comprises of 4 earthen pots, one banzonium, one

harmonium, and other two supporting artistes. The artistes, who play these instruments,

also act as chorus. (ii) Pucca Saj, consisting of one sarangi, one harmonium, one

banzonium, two cimta (forceps), earthen pots and supporting artistes. Whereas Max had a

pronounced use of pucca saj, Maina focused on kachha saj, which is more vibrant, gives

more beats, and young people enjoyed this kind of music very much. Another very

amusing innovation that the people devised was to attach new speakers to their players’

and it inverted on the mouth of a pot, which supplemented the need of jhankar beats. The

musical changes were not limited only to jhankar beats and parody or the influx of film

tune it was also the influx of explicit bawdy jokes which was there earlier as well but it
was a part of the plot then but now it became more of a regular affair. Early 1990’s also

break from the fetters of studios and recording is done in live public performances.

Cassette culture, by early 1990’s annihilates the remnants of swang culture and this is

replaced by competitions, which are conducted mainly during night. Whereas swang is

performed by one party, here almost all the major artistes are present and a competition is

held among these artistes and the condition is to sing a new composition on the same tune

as sung by the another one. Whoever is not able to sing, is out of the competition and this

takes around six to eight hours and gets over by early morning. Cassette companies get

new records from these competitions and releases these cassettes on the name of the place

where the competition was held, for example, ‘Bahadurgarh Competition Raginiya’,

Sonepat Competition Raginiyan, Vol.1, Vol.2, Vol.3, Vol.4’. This way cassette companies

save costs of production, since the fees of artistes has already ahs been paid by the

organizers of the competition. Competitions also provide a good opportunity to amateurs

to sharpen their skills and new talents gets spotted by cassette companies. The

competition cassettes are produced not in the serial order of the raginis but Vol.1 may

well be compilation of two or three singers on different tunes and this heterogeneity is

maintained in all cassettes and at the end of the last volume the winner is announced and

also the prize money.

The competitions provided the much-needed boost to cassette industry at a very crucial

stage, since most of the themes were already incorporated into the cassettes and this

exhaustion meant looking for newer alternatives either to cassette industry as a whole or

to tap other forms of popular culture of which none was possible and this new stage threw

new singers and newer participants as well, as competitions used to be a night-long affair
the interests of the crowd needed to be sustained for a longer time, this meant the entry of

female singers for the first time on stage in public performance in Haryana. This

emancipatory aspect of micro medium, in the long run proved to be a great vehicle for the

dissemination of progressive ideas and led to the composition of a whole new kind of

literature about domestic violence, evils of gambling, alcoholism and the importance of

girl child. Though, it is very subjective as to how far it actually manifested into social

transformation. The cassette companies neglected this aspect primarily due to

commercial reasons but the third stage witnesses films being made precisely on these

themes grossly neglected this aspect.

Maina Company flying high after its success in Haryana decided to venture in U.P.

mainly in Braj and Meerut, the areas adjacent to Sonepat, Panipat and the eastern border

of Haryana, sharing a much closer cultural affinity, wasn’t entirely new to this form of

culture be it rasiya or other folk songs and thus launched Sonotek cassette company,

catering mainly to western U.P.      This also brought success to the owners and this

changed the relationship between the producer and the artiste. Initially it was the

producer who needed the services of the artistes but now artistes became subservient to

producer’s dictum.

Before proceeding on to the structural changes in the third period in which industry starts

to influence the dominant and elite cultures and the intersection of two converging yet

very different mediums come together resulting in a two way interaction which until now

had been a one way exchange, an understanding of the cassette industry located on the

fringe of Delhi provides us newer insights into this process. The case here is of Jagdish

cassettes, launched around the same time as that of Maina has also made significant
strides in cassette production and film-making. It also made a success riding on

competition boom and jhankar beats, parody and double-entendred songs. It is almost a

parallel success story to Maina differing only in its distribution networks. Whereas Max

and Maina have their own shops in Lajpat Rai Market, Jagdish still operates from a shop

in the narrow by lanes of Narela, which acts both as a wholesale and as retail outlet. it

doesn’t have agents like Max and Mina, for its marketing and distribution. For

distribution and marketing it relies on the perseverance of its owner, who goes to distant

parts of Haryana and neighbouring states like U.P., Rajasthan and Delhi. Mr. Jagdish

after whom this company is named, comes to Lajpat Rai Market to buy cassettes and

VCD’s of other companies like HMV, Sony, Maina, Sonotek, Rajkiran, and other brands

thus acting as a bridge between Jagdish and other companies as well.

This media is markedly different from dominant and elite media not only in terms of its

content, forms of representation and quality but also due to its easy accessibility. It

doesn’t require much of investment to buy a cassette player. If one wants to buy a very

branded product, the costs are surely going to spiral but the democratization of

technology and the so-called Chinese sets have made a marked difference in terms of

consumption. In this respect, work done by Bhagwati Prasad, shows that these ostensible

‘Chinese sets’ are actually prepared in Delhi itself and the concept of intellectual property

rights hardly applies to them and this ‘bleeding culture’ (Sundaram, Ravi. Sarai.), firmly

entrenched and bypassing all the legalities or what has been termed as ‘porous legalities’

(Liang, Lawrence. Sarai). All these cassettes and CD’s are available at Lajpat Rai Market

at the wholesale shops of all these cassette companies. The marked price in case of audio

cassettes is Rs.30 each and a pack of four cassettes might well yield good discount and
the price goes on decreasing as the number of cassettes keep increasing and a good

bargain will get an audio cassette in the range between Rs.18-20. If one knows the name

of the owner of the cassette company, there can be further discount and most importantly,

if someone like who has met the owner and know him personally, prices come down to

Rs12-15. The cost of production that goes on in the producing on audiocassette ranges

between Rs.8-10. so the marked price is Rs.30 and to a layman it is available at let’s says

between Rs.22-25 but when it is to be distributed through agents, it reaches the retail

owners between Rs18-20 which was sold to agent between Rs12-15 and when it reaches

to the consumer, a fixed price of Rs25 is what one has to shell out. The audio players are

available between Rs500-1500 and if one wants to make good noise out of it one can buy

speakers as well.

 The above narrative is mainly based on my conversations with cassette owners. A full

account of this industry in incomplete without going into the lives of singers, the ways by

which they got to know of the opportunities in this micro-medium, their aspirations from

this media and how far ‘money’ as a category has redefined their lives. An attempt will

be made to compare Bhojpuri and Haryanavi artistes, though it is very superficial and

subjected to further inquiry not only of artistes but also of the industry as a whole, which

I wish to undertake, if possible.

As discussed earlier, ragini is part of oral tradition (a distinction needs to be made

between oral tradition and oral history), having a much longer history, thus there existed

networks of patronage and other ties of dependence and it needs to be explored as to how

far these ties get broken or gets strengthened. Prior to the emergence of cassette culture,

prominent sangis were invited to perform on certain occasions which were could have
been organized either collectively or individually. Village communities used to ask these

sangis to perform on occasions like Dussehra, Diwali, at the time of harvesting so that

these people can be given grain for their subsistence, or on the occasion of cleaning of

village pond or contribution towards Goshala (cow shelters). These were called on

private occasions as well like on the birth of son child, marriage etc., and these were

rewarded then. But the scenario changes with the emergence of cassette culture, what

used to be their compositions were now finding a place in a media which was making it

available for mass consumption and culture now became a commodity, to be sold, to be

bought. The initial response to it was very conservative one. Jagannath, a very prominent

sangi of 1970’s and 1980’s, stopped performing swang after finding the commercial

motives behind the whole exercise. Though, he didn’t lay any claim to any of his

compositions that were incorporated into cassettes but he never sang for any cassette

company despite getting many lucrative offers. In true sense of the term he is the last

sangi of Haryana. Nowadays his ill health has prevented him from singing on occasions

that are of collective good to the village.

One of the most popular ragini singer was Rajkishan Agwanpuriya, who expired in 2001,

and now one of the oldest surviving singer is Master Satbir, a teacher by profession who

took to singing out of sheer love and he is the last on e to have sung all the raginis in the

traditional way though with some modifications as technology required it to be. He is

credited with singing almost all the themes there in the swang but left singing a long time

back owing to his bad health and also due to his inability to sing on film tunes although

he tried it a few times. Most of his recordings are available on Maina and Jagdish but as
left singing way back, they are not available that easily but can be located with someone

who has followed his raginis closely.

At this juncture, let me make a clear distinction between the old sangis and today’s

cassette singers. Cassettes artistes are not sangis as a sangi is on e who actually composes

as well and here lies the crux of the matter since, wherever, folklore or any form of

popular culture is finding a place in this micro medium is actually mediated by these

artistes and it’s in no way their own genius of creativity. Thus today’s singers are merely

becoming agents through a medium by which we are receiving a particular form of

popular culture.

This passage will be dealing with those singers who have really redefined ragini culture

in terms of its singing are very popular among people. Among these very prominent are

Pale Ram, hailing from Halalpur, a village in Sonepat district of Haryana. He started

performing in late 1970’s and after a practice and much hard work of about seven to eight

years; he became proficient in this form of singing. It is very hard to tell precisely as to

when he started singing for cassette companies but it was late 1980’s when his cassettes

started to come in the market. He is credited with making competition such a huge affair.

As ragini has to be sung at a very high pitch, a masculine voice is what makes it different

from other forms of singing since it requires intonation at a very high pitch and even a

tragic scene is described in a full bursting voice. As discussed earlier, that there is a

serious risk of exhaustion of popular culture if only few representative raginis are sung

from a whole theme consisting of at least more than fifty raginis in each theme. This is

actually what happened to most of these singers. They were most busy between 1988-

1994, when they were recording almost day in day out for various cassette companies
like Maina, Jagdish, and Max. For, the reasons that are beyond my comprehension, no

one told me the precise amount that they were given for recording and it was told only in

approximate terms. Pale Ram was paid between Rs.8000-10000 by various companies for

each recording. I still need to know whether it was for one cassette or for any number of

recordings done in a day.

Another prominent artiste is Ranabir Barawasaniya, hailing from Barawasani, a village in

Sonepat district in Haryana. He too started singing for cassettes in mid-1980’s. He, too

was extremely busy between 1988-1994, during which he didn’t even took a day off and

has sung for almost all major cassette companies and is a strong opponent to Pale Ram at

competitions. He was paid between Rs.7000-9000 for one recording, which meant a full

theme, having twenty-four songs in three volumes. But there are certain recording which

are completed in one volume as well.

Now comes the issue of a well-organized ragini party. All singers have their own groups,

comprising of eight to ten other artistes. It is because of this group that they are able to

complete one recording session in around three to four hours and in case of volumes it

might take the whole day. The group members are there for around eight years in the

parties belonging to Pale Ram and Ranabir. They are paid between Rs.400-600,

according to the amount of recording, but this is the amount they generally get in each

recording. Let us consider this, out of a sum of Rs.10000, almost half of the amount goes

to artistes but the advantage with the artistes is that they can play for other singers in case

main artiste in free or having bad health. In competitions as well, young singers who

haven’t formed their party as yet, can play for them and get paid for this. It is to be noted

that all these musicians are not trained in any sense of the music but they have opted it as
career out of sheer love for this tradition and it is a case of watching and learning and if

someone starts playing well news spreads to the neighbouring areas as well and a singer

who hasn’t formed his party as yet can do so now. A look at caste compositions of these

musicians reveals that most of the singers belong to Brahmin caste and the musicians

come from various backgrounds. In post-partition scenario, specialized groups are no

longer there like that of mirasis. In early twentieth century they formed the backbone of

this musicians group but partition changed the pluralistic composition of popular culture.

Both Pale Ram and Ranabir have made recordings for AIR (All India Radio) at Delhi and

at Rohtak as well. Here they had to sing two or three raginis instead of full-length

recordings, thus they are preferred over cassette s and radio has a wider reach than

cassettes as both the AIR stations have fixed timings for raginis. Here they get paid

between Rs.4000-5000 and sometimes even Rs.8000 plus travel expenses. But after the

coming of Rohtak station there has been a polarization of the artiste. Delhi station prefers

artistes from U.P. and Rohtak station promotes Haryanavi singers. But with the coming

of new director at AIR they have again been given the contracts. AIR has devised a

method of putting the singers into some sort of grading, which determines their pay. Pale

Ram has made it to Grade A very recently and Ranabir is still in Grade B. New singers

find it extremely difficult to make to any of the grades and it is only the experienced ones

that make it to AIR.

Now we come to another question. If most of the singers completed all the recordings by

1994 what happened to the industry after that and how did they manage in the absence of

any new work. This puzzle is solved through traditional ties of patronage and
dependence. Once these singers get exposure and wide publicity, people ask them to

perform a show either collectively or individually but nowadays they are called mainly

on individual celebrations, like marriage, birth of son, someone getting govt. service etc

and singers are busy almost five days a week. It is the case with every ragini singer and

they get invitations from Rajasthan, Delhi, Delhi NCR, and western U.P. and sometimes

from Punjab as well. The rules are very simple for attending these functions, the host will

arrange for travel or he can for the petrol if party is opting for its own vehicle. they will

be provided with all the customary dues that are party of a longer tradition and most of

the times relationship forges into a friendship and thus they start having some well

established patrons. For attending these events they get paid between Rs.10000-12000,

which is divided in the group according to their share. Nowadays it is these events that

are sustaining them in the absence of any new recordings.

Very interestingly, these cassette companies have brought titles like ‘Pale Ram ki Hit

Raganiyan’, ‘ Ranabir ki Desi Raganiyan’, this is done on the lines of titles brought out

by HMV in its golden collection series of singers like Lata, Kishore, Rafi etc.. There are

certain titles which cater only to a specific audience with the titles like, ‘ Haryana ki

Chulbuli Raganiyan’, ‘ Kissa; Devar-Bhabhi’, and many others like this which are full of

titillating jokes and conversation between devar and bhabhi. In order to augment sales

few titles have come bearing the name of sangis of early twentieth century.

The above discussion focused on the singers from Haryana singing in Haryanavi, now a

new trend is emerging in which singers from other regions like eastern U.P., Himachal or

even from Bihar singing Haryanavi songs. This has been a matter of resentment among

local Haryanavi artistes and the feeling is that of bringing disrepute to their tradition, as
some of the compositions that are sold in the name of Haryanavi don’t even have the

remotest link to Haryanavi culture. This trend can be ascribed to the third period of

classification in which there is a transition from audio medium to visual medium. This

phase witnesses the coming of these raginis in a CD format and this is what makes the

last period so engrossing. The way these films are shot and marketed is very fascinate to

note since there is no as mechanism of release of films and the number of copies to be

brought out. But before we proceed into this visual media, let us again analyze the issue

of representing the authentic Haryana. There is a tradition of Shiva worshipping in

Haryana but the way this is composed in VCD’s it reflects much of western U.P. and is

sold in the name Haryanavi bhajan. One important bhajan singer is Kushinder Khudana

from western U.P. singing, ‘ Bhole ke Bhajan DJ Mix’ and it has all kinds of beats in it

and whole lot of other bhajan others sung by a singer from Bihar. Since most of these

cassette producer are not constricted to one region and are producing for many regions,

the boundaries gets blurred very easily as to what is the real Haryanavi music. Similar is

the case with the kind of music that is produced from regions like Ambala and Kaithal,

where Punjabi has greatly influenced the language and customs thus a totally different

kind of music is produced from there. Here it becomes extremely problematic as to what

is the real Haryanavi music and which one can be accepted as the real one. This paradox

that has been brought to the fore is an extremely interesting aspect of cassette industry,

which brings heterogeneity and a shared culture to the people.

An important aspect that the cassette industry has thrown up is whether technology

entrenches traditional ties of dependence. It is to be discussed in the light of the names of

these ragini singers. Everyone has the name of their village as their surname rather than
their surname indicating their caste. One possible reason could well that it makes it far

easier for new producers to locate them by theirs village. But on the other hand, as the

tradition goes that whoever does something good by which the name of their village gets

highlighted, it then becomes a matter of pride and many wrestlers have used the name of

their villages.

The third marks the transition of audio medium into visual medium and this again

brought good fortunes to ragini singers. Now the package also increased upto about

Rs.12000-13000 per recording, which is about eight raginis in a VCD and instead of

stillphotos we have a full picturization of each song in line with the main theme. This has

an important impact on the nature of participation, as many girls and boys from regional

universities have got a chance to act in these films. Earlier male played the female

characters but this has changed the whole scenario and more and more women are

participating in this enterprise. Though, the second phase also witnessed the coming of

women on the stage but it was seen merely as gimmicks to entertain and sustain the

interests of the crowd. But in present scenario, Upasana Sharma, has more than fifty titles

to her credit.

The cost of production in case of VCD increases but it also depends on the producer as

well. One recording may cost anywhere between Rs15000-20000, it is in case of ragini

being picturized but nowadays cassette companies are coming up with one and half hour

and even two and half hour films on VCD. This new trend needs further exploration in

terms of the people who are investing in these films and what are the possible returns in

it. What I have been able to explore till now is that most of these people who are

investing in these films, already have a steady source of income and it is secondary and
indulge in it purely to satiate their creative zeal and also for their undying passion for

cinema is what propels then towards this industry. There have been people who have

struggled all their youth in Mumbai to meet producers and in the hope of getting that

golden chance. It is their failure or shall I say good fortune that their exploits in regional

cinema have forced the dominant media to appreciate their work as well. This has

resulted in good publicity to people likeSuman Negi who has given four super hits and

Billoo Chaudhary who boasts of having more fans than Amitabh Bachchan in his

territory. And, yes it isn’t a shallow one, considering his films available at every VCD

retail shop in Haryana, western U.P. and his popularity even extending to Rajasthan as


This aspect of regional cinema has given rise to other auxiliary industries such the

demand to protect it from piracy holograms are needed not only in case of VCD’s but

also in case of audiocassettes. A master hologram costs Rs.10000 and after that every

hologram is supplied at the rate of four and half paisa.

This filmmaking is not restricted to only few cassette owners but also some employed in

government service are more vigorous in this enterprise. A case in point is Ramphal

Chahal, an executive programmer in AIR has produced more than ten films and he

himself is the actor. The shooting of these video CD’s take place in the restaurants that

have cone up on the Rohtak Road just after crossing Nangloi. Some recordings have even

taken place in the wee hours of the morning in pandals that were put up for a marriage

and with connivance of tent boys much of the shooting is done there as well. The cost is a

major factor in the quality and movement as against the Bhojpuri which have more of

action and song and dance sequence and lots of new technology. This difference between
Haryanavi cinema and Bhojpuri cinema is also due to the kind of form that finds a place

in the media. In the former it is still the themes that were composed in early twentieth

century and any deviation from those conventions is seen as derogatory and also dehati

culture precludes any possibility of any urban elements entering this medium. Though, it

is not very strictly followed and very lately women songs have also find place in this

medium but it’s still confined within the notions of domesticity and that of ideal wife and

it is actually who has all the agency in this portrayal.

In this chain, Maina has more than seven hundred titles to its credit and has bought the

copyrights of ten haryanavi films that were released on cinema but there was a problem

of not having enough prints and it is in the process of buying copyrights of other regional

films as well. Jagdish has more than two hundred titles to its credit and all are its own

productions and almost all have recovered the costs.

Very recently, a meeting with person struggling to get a role in bollywood plans to

launch himself on a grand scale and promises to change the scenario of filmmaking in

this region.

                                                           Deepak Kadyan.