It was a norm to have just one musician helming the musical side of a movie. And that included not only the songs but also the background score. Needless to add, songs were always an integral part of the entire setup.
They still are.
The only difference is producers and directors are prepared to work with more than one music director at a time. This particular change hasn’t always led to amiable results. In fact, many a times it has created uncomfortable environments to work in. One doesn’t have to look far for examples.
When Lungi Dance from Chennai Express was ruling the chartbusters, Honey Singh had all the excuses in the world to be delighted. However, the same couldn’t be said about Vishal-Shekar -- the music directors originally assigned for the blockbuster. There was an audible disappointment somewhere.
Something similar happened when the buzz starting doing the rounds about Salman Khan’s upcoming Mental. Apparently, despite their creative differences, Himesh Reshammiya and Sajid-Wajid ended up on the same boat with the former singing a song for the film on Khan’s request.
Things went steeper when music composer Anand Raj Anand had to point out that Sonu Nigam has composed just one song for the forthcoming Singh Saab The Great. But not before adding that he composed the rest of the tracks for the Sunny Deol-starrer.
So what really has contributed to this phenomenon where diverse mindsets are assembling together to create filmi music? Turns out there are many...
Earlier, there used to be a separate entity called movie music album which was marketed and sold simultaenously. Fans could buy cassettes of their choice directly from the shelf. Eventually, the consumer became choosy and was ready to pay for only those songs one liked. As of now, with the advent of Internet and free downloads, songs fail to do brisk business except for the ones few who actually click with the public.
Producers and directors would leave no stone unturned as long as the budget remains under control. Besides, there are musicians in the industry who are more than willing to compose for free provided they receive credit. Once a song is a hit, they’ll earn from the live shows that will eventually come their way.
Abhishek Ray, who scored the music of Paan Singh Tomar, has an intriguing thought to spare. “To a lot of filmmakers, musicians have become mere commodities. You can buy them like you buy tomatoes and potatoes in a supermarket.”
A classical scenario
Many music composers today come from a background that has very little to do with classical music. This leaning has its limitations. The arrangement of a song -- being a complex process -- is then relegated to technicians which further relays the process. The younger talents are full of zeal but when it comes to concepts like symphony, an orchestra or even a plain raga, the lack of formal training spoils the show. “There is a reason why we take RD Burman’s name with awe. He was someone who could do justice to songs as distinct as Raina beeti jaye and Piya tu ab toh aaja. That range is uncommon. We can say that his strong roots were visible in his genius,” muses Anand.
Culture of mediocrity
When you have DJs mixing songs and calling themselves music composers on top of that, mediocrity is bound to seep in. The idea behind notation, chords and even playing a particular musical instrument goes for a toss. “We can safely conclude that this is not the best of times to be a musician but it’s certainly the most appropriate time to be a DJ who remixes for a living. After all, we keep visiting the good old songs because original music is seldom made,” rues Abhishek.
The positive note
With multi-composer structure gaining ground, not every little factor has a deteriorating effect. For what it’s worth, there have been encouraging signs too. It’s easier for a musician to break in and prove oneself provided they have a solid base. Along with the challenge, there is a greater hope for recognition which wasn’t the case earlier, especially when musical hegemony was unabashedly followed. “One also has to look at the number of potential talents entering the industry with an intention to make it big and that’s exactly where I feel the most interesting part of this phase lies. It’s either going to work or too many cooks are going to spoil the broth,” sums up Anand.
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