Having completed writing music reviews for 12 years, I was almost facing an existential dilemma. Thanks largely to Jagga Jasoos. Here’s a film that’s a true-blue musical (with a very pointed cue to why it is one, in the script!). And the musical doesn’t release its soundtrack as a single entity even a week before the film’s release.

The days of using a music soundtrack as a promotional tool, and hence release it a month in advance, are gone. Or, at least from the Hindi film industry’s perspective, they are over. Rahman’s Mom soundtrack released just a week before the film. I believe Jab Harry Met Sejal’s soundtrack, with 10 songs no less (4 singles are out so far) will be out in the coming week – a week before the film’s release! Tubelight’s soundtrack released as a full entity, a day before the film’s Friday release.

I have had tons of people asking me to start reviewing singles and get on with it, instead of waiting for full albums to be released. I did consider that, but the ensuing duplication—of writing about the same songs when the albums release too—seemed cumbersome and repetitive.

Plus, barring the Dharma/Yashraj/Bollywood machine, the rest of the country seems to be still sold on the soundtrack model, except that the audio release isn’t a glitzy function and is released fairly close to the movie’s release. I’m ok with that – I’m not part of any film’s propaganda machine so I couldn’t care less when the release happens as long as I get to form my opinion on a complete/full album.

And, if you will kindly allow me a brief moment of vanity, the one thing… or the other thing (besides inculcating a multi-lingual interest in music amongst a reasonable number of people) that I seem to have helped is continuing to showcase composers’ progress over a period of time, by betting early and being very happy when they turn out to be as per my yardstick of quality and make it big.

In the last few years, I have consistently bet on the following:

Sam CS
Ajaneesh B Loknath
Afzal Yusuff
Sunny MR
Achu Rajamani
Leon James
Sean Roldan
Midhun Mukundan
Manoj George
Justin Prabhakaran
Joshua Sridhar
Nivas K Prasanna
Vivek Sagar
Charan Raj
Manikanth Kadri
Sooraj S. Kurup
(I’m sure there are more that I may have missed)

Some of them have finally made it big. Like Sam CS, for whom I rated his completely unknown and unheard ‘Kadalai’ very high, made it visibly big with Vikram Vedha. Or a Vivek Sagar, who is composing for an upcoming biggie starring Naga Chaitanya (whether that is good or not is a different question, given how Sunny MR did for his Dochay!). Or my consistent bets on Ghibran, Sean Roldan, Justin Prabhakaran, K, Ajaneesh Loknath, among others.

Some of them haven’t worked out… yet. Like Shravan, who I feel is on the cusp of big things – his last, Chandamama Raave is exceptionally good proof of that, though I have no idea who heard it or if the film released. Or a J.B, who is still on the periphery of Telugu music. Or a Joshua Sridhar who is on the periphery of both Tamil and Kannada music! Or a Krsna, who is on the periphery of Hindi music. Here’s hoping all these folks do get their big breaks and flourish and continue to produce great music that I can gladly offer a #200.

To year 13!

Thank you for reading.