Varma wrote for an Indian magazine called Gentleman (which, despite its name, was not that kind of magazine), which folded in 2001. He's now putting up his archive of music writing in blog format, indexed through here.
He is passionate about the great rock and folk acts of the 1960s, and writes glowing long-form essays on the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. I particularly liked the Leonard Cohen piece, but then I particularly like Leonard Cohen.
And here, he's quite critical of Hindi film music and of the Indi-pop scene, which for him lacks that crucial element of individual, personal expression. The piece linked to was written in 2001, but I think Indian popular music is still pretty much where it was five years ago. Here's Jaideep Varma:
This kind of singer-songwriter has never existed in our popular culture. Mainly because film music is the popular music in our country. Indian cinema has produced many wonderful songs with excellent melodies, but all within a very limited format. Ultimately, a film song has to fill a situation in the film. And today, popular Indian cinema, with its accent on ‘timepass’, cannot produce songs of depth and passion. The format in which they exist simply won’t permit it. Even the older songs ultimately suffer from the same sentimentality and melodrama that the films themselves were steeped in.
This is the voice of someone who is utterly convinced about what he's trying to say, but that doesn't necessarily make him right. (Read the rest of the piece; he surveys virtually the entire Indi-pop music scene.) It's quite possible to say that Varma is guilty of Euro-centrism (or rock-centrism) in his perspective on music.
Varma loves British and American singer-songwriters for their individualism and sincerity, but is it not possible that that individualism is itself a kind of pose? And isn't it also possible that sincerity may be overrated, that the craft in the better work of a Bollywood composer like A.R. Rahman, may have real value -- even devoid of the individual touch?
The ability to appreciate different musical sensibilities on their own terms is often called "aesthetic relativism," generally by people who don't like it. But it may be just as correct to call it "eclecticism." Whatever we call it, it is a capacity that Jaideep Varma, for his considerable talents as a music critic, may not have.