Our current crop of youngsters don’t know Nipper, the dog. However, show the iconic picture of the dog peeking into a gramophone to someone from Generation X or earlier and they will tell you HMV is short for His Master’s Voice. The music label, owned by Saregama India ruled India’s music intellectual property scene for nearly five decades post-independence. Even today, the music company has a library of 1.2 lakh songs (in 18 languages). But Nipper, who fetched cash for its master for decades, vanished from India’s music scene two decades back.
Vikram Mehra, managing director, Saregama India, has no qualms admitting to the lost decades. “Yes, we were absent from the Bollywood music acquisition scene. We didn’t buy film music after the ’90s.” Interestingly, today he is back in his office after releasing the music for Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga. The film’s title harks back to the popular song from the film 1942: A Love Story. “Incidentally, we were also the music distributors for Vidhu’s film, 1942: A Love Story. That was 25 years ago. We began acquiring mainstream Hindi film music only last year, but we are back in the game,” says Mehra.
In its first comeback year, Saregama acquired music for Bollywood films such as 102 Not Out, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, Saheb Biwi aur Gangster 3, and Kahani 2. The brand’s strategy — to stick to medium-sized projects — seems logical since music rights for big-banner movies sell for as much as Rs.250-300 million. Price notwithstanding, making a comeback in a space dominated by big hitters such as T-Series, Zee Music Company, and Sony Music is difficult. However, in the past one year, the label has made its way back to the limelight. This time, not for the chartbusters HMV was known for in its heyday, but for something else &mdas