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Listening Movies - 2

By: sureshmehcnit Posted Mar 27, 2008 General 1041 Views
(Updated Mar 27, 2008 09:28 AM)

Continuation of Listening Movies

Importance of Background Score

The main theme of ‘Star Wars’ is as important a character of the movie as a Darth Vader. When Spielberg was unable to show the Shark, John Williams made the audience to feel the presence of Shark by his score written on just two notes. In the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, could the evil nature of the ring, be brought out effectively without Howard Shore’s cunning Ring theme? Can an E.T fly without John Williams’s Flying theme? What would be the running scene in ‘Chariots of Fire’ without Vangelis’s spirited synth piece? How Amelie’s adventures would have felt without Yann Tiersen’s vibrant and colorful Piano theme? Who is James bond without John Barry’s signature tune? Or can we think of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ without Tan Dun’s westernized Chinese melodies and turbulent Taiko drums?  Can you think of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti westerns without Ennio Morricone’s score? Or can you think of funny actions of Charlie Chaplin without that comical music played in the background? Why Henry Mancini’s Baby elephant walk theme comes to our mind whenever we see a beautiful elephant dancing in its way? Why does your mind gets filled with a Titanic love theme when your heart if full of your first love? Who or which is Masculine, The rocky or his electrifying theme? Why do the sitar and flute pieces of ‘Pather Panchali’ play in your mind when you watch a kid playing on the streets of a deep interior village? And I can go on and on and on.

Background Score in Indian Films

So we come to an important question that matters most to us. What is the state of background scores in Indian films? Who should give or should have given importance to background scores in Indian films? These are some of the easiest questions to answer. The directors, the composers and the producers of Indian films collectively failed to give background score its due importance.

In India, movies were seen just as extra large sized stage musicals that predominantly had songs. The composers in a stage drama used standard sound bytes in the background to enhance and exaggerate the emotions. As the stage actors use to shout their dialogues loud to reach out to the audience, music was also performed loud to match with the performer’s volume level. Film makers or composers who came from or grew up watching such drama background were not so aware of the importance of background scores. Also most of the composers were so much rooted to Indian classical form of music and they concentrated only on making tune for songs.

For a producer, movie making has always been a commercial business than art. There are few producers, who invest in movies out of passion for art. In this business, it is unrealistic to expect a producer to understand the importance of background score and spend time and money for it. Shooting schedules were not well planned; movies got delayed due to various reasons. To release the movie on the announced date, all the post production work was done with urgency. For writing and recording the background score, the composer could get the movie, only few days before its release. The quality suffered because of the lack of time. So even if the composer and the director know the importance of background score, they were helpless. To complete the work, our composers had ready made music for all emotions to use as background score. And what really helped them was that most of the movies were in same genre dealing with same subjects, emotions and issues. One can easily count the number of old movies that could be guessed just by listening to its background score.

This lack of importance to background score in Indian films can also be because of two other external factors. They are lack of official recognition for background scores and lack of good film critics in India. Till date there is no category commenced in National Film Awards for best background score. Such an important aspect of film making is still waiting to get an official recognition from the Indian government. Indian film industry never had great critics. Even now, when there is so much of media exposure, and with reviews on movies appearing immediately after its first show, rarely critics mention about background score. Even if they mention, one can expect ‘it was loud,’, ‘it was good’ kind of generic opinions. Last year’s best background score in Indian cinema is for ‘Cheeni Kum’ by Maestro Illayaraja. You can check any available review in the media and count for yourselves to know how many of the so called critics have actually mentioned a word about it.

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