Sonu Nigam, who has rendered several hit Hindi film songs, has hit out at Bollywood music, saying it eclipses the talent and creativity of other musicians and singers in the country.
'As long as there is film music, these (individual) albums cannot do well and singers' creativity and their value will always suffer. They will always be secondary to actors and their identity will be at the back stage,' Sonu told IANS in an interview.
He pointed out that films today are made at big budgets and much is spent on their promotions. Therefore, all major music companies take interest in promoting film music, leaving other singers and private albums on the back foot.
'The private albums are left at the mercy of small companies that fail to compete with the promotional strategies of film music. India is a country of actors and cricketers. Only they are worshipped. All other jobs are far behind these two.'
Drawing a comparison with the West, Sonu said: 'Singers like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez enjoy the same status as any other actor or player. Their albums are promoted in a big way with no financial constraints.'
He added that even in neighbouring Pakistan, singers are much better appreciated than in India.
'People from the West are surprised when they come to know that our actors lip sync the songs. It never happens in Western countries.
'And if there is any song, then the actor sings for himself. It is not like what we have in India. Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman and Drew Barrymore among others have sung their songs themselves.'
Sonu, who has bagged several awards for his singing, also said that playback singers were grossly underpaid.
'When actors in our country get millions for a single movie, people negotiate with singers for even Rs.5,000.'
He said that producers have a budget for everything, but when it comes to paying singers, they suddenly go short of money.
'A playback singer is paid a meagre amount of Rs.25,000 to Rs.30,000. If a singer depends solely on playback singing and doesn't do any stage shows then he has to live a below average life.'
As far as accompanying stars in their foreign tours is concerned, Sonu said that established singers now prefer to go on their own solo tours as that gives them due recognition and value as an artiste.
'I had rejected an offer by a major group for a tour on the same ground in 2004 and now other singers are doing the same thing,' Sonu said.